Sunday, 1 July 2007

Messing with .pdf's

Recently I've been having to mess around with Adobe's Portable Document Format (.pdf) files. Along with the usual huge amounts of time wasted searching down blind alleys (a.k.a. "Googling"), I've discovered the following:

Readers/Viewers

  • Of course there's the well-known Adobe product Acrobat Reader, but I found a couple of other free readers for Windows (TM) that each have some useful features.
  • Foxit Reader. None of the bloat, so much faster it's a joy to use.
  • PDF XChange Viewer. Not as sprightly as Foxit, but superb options for adding annotations, highlights, notes, balloons, etc., etc.

Tools


I wanted to automate some things and found pdftk. FLOSS for Windows & Linux. A fabulous little command line tool with features such as splitting out pages. Recommended.

For Developers (PC)


iText is a mature Java library for manipulating .pdf's that I've found very useful and is the basis of pdftk. There's also a port to C# called iTextSharp.

For Developers (AS/400 or whatever it's called this week)


A series of articles by Giuseppe Costagliola (a.k.a. Beppe Costa) came in incredibly useful. These were in bite sized chunks, so I was able to try out & understand a technique before developing it further. His series of articles start with straight RPG, move through some C, and on to Java techniques.

Also useful was Jean-Paul Lamontre's Toolbox.


If you want to know how to write out .pdf files in your own programs you'll need the Adobe .pdf Reference - but it's very hard going. Find some examples out there on t'internet, or use something like iText. Trust me, it's a lot easier.

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