Wide-Format Printers/Plotters

Track your plots: Plot logging tools

1 Feb, 2000 By: Michael Lennox


Do you know how often you plot? Do you know how much paper you use? Would you like to track that information, create reports, and bills for your materials? Each of the following five packages lets you do just that. Most are designed to work directly with AutoCAD and behave similarly when you issue the Plot command. Their differences lie in how they collect and store the log data and how usefully they present it.

Each time you plot, all of the packages capture information such as paper size, paper type, job information, and the date and time. Some of the utilities produce reports or communicate this data directly to other applications. Others produce ASCII text files in a comma-delimited format that you can import into a spreadsheet or database.

These programs require a little more effort on your part if you want to produce reports and invoices. All of the utilities reviewed work with at least one version of AutoCAD. AutoCAD LT, MicroStation, and other applications are also supported by some of the reviewed packages. Some utilities also have companion applications for tracking time or stamping plots as they are created.

I installed and tested all the packages with AutoCAD 2000, or AutoCAD Release 14 for those without AutoCAD 2000 support. For those that support LT, I used AutoCAD LT 98. For packages that create Excel or Access files, I used Office 97 to import, view, and manipulate the data.

Reviewer's Report Card  
 
Functionality Customization/
reporting
Price* Install/setup Star rating
Importance factor
x3
x2
x1
x1
CDV Systems, Plot Tracker
B
B
B
B-
4 stars
Infinity Squared Services, Plot Suite
A
A-
A-
A
5 stars
Microsol Resources, PlotLog
A
B+
A-
A
5 stars
Technesis, Smart Plot
A+
A+
B-
A+
5 stars
XAct, XPlot Logger
A-
B+
A+
A
5 stars
*See chart below for pricing details; grade based on 5-user pricing.
 

Plot tracking price details 
 

Three users Five users Ten users Fifty users
CDV Systems, Plot Tracker
$297
$495
$990
$2,500*
Infinity Squared Services, Plot Suite
$237
$375.25
$711
$3,160
Microsol Resources, PlotLog
$395
$395
$495
$1,135
Technesis, Smart Plot
$1,050
$1,050
$1,370
$3,450
XAct, XPlot Logger
$74.99
$225
$600
$1,275
* Plot Tracker has a price cap of $2,500.
 


About the Author: Michael Lennox


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