Monday, March 03, 2008

TGIF - March 3, 2008 - PDF Creation

Fliers, brochures, registration forms, health info forms, covenants, postcards, newsletters, etc. We all create all sorts of information that we distribute on paper for people to see and maybe return. Sometimes they e-mail us and want us to e-mail them something back so they don't have to wait for the snail-mail. It sure would be nice to send it as a PDF (Portable Document Format), but who wants to spend hundreds of dollars on Adobe Acrobat in order to create those? I know I don't!

If you created your document in Open Office or in Microsoft Office 2007, you can use the Save to PDF feature of either of those programs. You may also use another program, such as Print Master, that has a Save to PDF option. That works great. But what if the program you're using doesn't have that option? You could set up a geeky program called Ghostscript and convert from Postscript to PDF, but that requires a geek and, while very powerful, is a bit inconvenient to use.

The simplest option that I've found is called doPDF, available at It's a free, although not open source, program which allows you to create PDF files on Windows 2000, XP, and Vista. It installs as a printer on your system and then you select the doPDF printer from any application that you're using and it creates a PDF file for you. I have only started using it recently, but it seems to work quite well and has received good reviews from other people on the net. It doesn't put any watermarks on your output and seems to generate relatively small files that are easy to e-mail.

Before I upgraded to a machine with Windows Vista, I used PDF Creator, an open source program that works similarly on earlier versions of Windows. They are offering $150 to anyone who can figure out how to make it work on Vista! I like the fact it's open source, but was disappointed when it didn't work on my new system.

For those of you that have a bit more geek in you, Ghostscript, in combination with GSview, can be used to not only create PDF files, but also to convert them to a wide variety of other image formats. This can be quite useful for posting a picture on your website of a fancy poster you created in some program that can't export to JPG. If you are interested in learning more about how to use this program, e-mail me and I'll devote a future space to it.

God's blessings on the ministry you do each day,
Pastor Andy Arnold
ELCA Youth Ministry Network's Tech Geek

P.S. Don't forget that I love to receive questions so that I'm talking about things you're interested in hearing about!