Layouts and Printing

So after deciding I wanted to use my small phomeo printer, I tried using a few different libraries and open source hacks to get my older python layout code to work with it. This proved to be sort of fruitless, as I kept hitting roadblocks and it wasn’t really doing what I wanted it to do anyways.

After that, I tried doing some PDF generation with python. I found this to be kind of cool, because I could do some basic positioning and image work. Python has some pretty well documented and robust ways to make PDFs. But again, it wasn’t really going where I wanted, and I found myself asking the same question I had w/ firmware which was “do I want to spend countless hours tracking down how to fix X, or…not?”

After some thoughts, I ended up teaching myself how to use Affinity Publisher. It was weird at first, I felt like I had failed, or was “cheating”, but then reminded myself that yes, I used to do print work…and print was where my entire interest in design started.

One thing that was interesting to me is that, like the text generation and assemblage, I sort of went back to a classical kind of layout. I think I just really liked my photos as is, and the idea of printing a bunch of stuff over them didn’t really appeal to me. I had started w/ doing collages in Affinity Photo, but it didn’t translate to well to the small printer, and in the end I just wanted to keep it simple. Plus I decided that the collages inserted into the zines was a juxtaposition I could live with.

The other challenge was getting the zine in a format for sending to the printer. One of the downsides of not really hacking it, was having to deal w/ the printer software…printer software kind of sucks across the board, regardless of printer or platform. But this was tied to mobile and it was pretty annoying. I tried doing some different work flows like using the iPad version on my computer, and sending things to my phone as a PDF.

In the end the process to print things, was Affinity Publisher > Export as a JPG > Air Drop to my Iphone > use the app on my phone to print to the printer. This I found was the best way to keep the layout as a 1 to 1 and not deal with text replacements (hilariously something I always had to deal with when doing print, so 20 years later and that’s still a thing).

All in all this ended up being a much less code related process that I thought it would be.

Collages and Small Printers

Working on some collage this week using tickertape printer output and and found items. I’m starting to think that I want to use my little BT printer instead of my older adafruit printer, which would change the format of my zine, but overall could be a positive outcome. I feel that I’ll spend more time doing assemblage and less time in software, but frankly I’m fine with that. I’ll have to play around with the Phomeo printer firmware though.

So after hooking up my old Adafruit printer that I used in 2019 and porting over my code, I have come to some realizations that there is a lot of buffer overflow. And I’m starting to lean more towards using my Phomeo which I wouldn’t be able to directly translate the code I have to use with it, but I’m thinking maybe I can repurpose my old zine code to be more of an assembler that outputs a PDF I can print from the Phomeo. I’ll tinker with it. I have found some open source libraries for the phomeo, but because its bluetooth its not as reliable. One option could be outputting everything as a website, and then printing from web. Scaling could be a problem. I’m going to do some experiments.

Little phomeo bluetooth printer