August 29, 2007

More geeky tools

PDFs are quite helpful for distributing information and it's a fairly easy task to convert most documents/spreadsheets/presentations/images into the portable document format; you can find that software yourself. However, being able to extract individual pages, or combine multiple PDFs into a single document can be tricky. Adobe, I'm certain, would love for you to pay $500 for Acrobat Writer. However, if, like me, you're a little short on funds, I've got a somewhat cheaper solution in mind. Okay, much cheaper. Alright, it's free. I give you the PDF Toolkit. Excerot:

If PDF is electronic paper, then pdftk is an electronic staple-remover, hole-punch, binder, secret-decoder-ring, and X-Ray-glasses. Pdftk is a simple tool for doing everyday things with PDF documents. Keep one in the top drawer of your desktop and use it to:
  • Merge PDF Documents
  • Split PDF Pages into a New Document
  • Rotate PDF Pages or Documents
  • Decrypt Input as Necessary (Password Required)
  • Encrypt Output as Desired
  • Fill PDF Forms with FDF Data or XFDF Data and/or Flatten Forms
  • Apply a Background Watermark or a Foreground Stamp
  • Report on PDF Metrics such as Metadata, Bookmarks, and Page Labels
  • Update PDF Metadata
  • Attach Files to PDF Pages or the PDF Document
  • Unpack PDF Attachments
  • Burst a PDF Document into Single Pages
  • Uncompress and Re-Compress Page Streams
  • Repair Corrupted PDF (Where Possible)

Pdftk allows you to manipulate PDF easily and freely. It does not require Acrobat, and it runs on Windows, Linux, Mac OS X, FreeBSD and Solaris.

Pretty cool, huh?

What's that? You don't like working with the sometimes cryptic, albeit well documented, command line instructions to perform the above tasks? Turns out that you're not alone. Someone built a GUI for the PDFTK; it's called the PDFTK Builder.

PDFTK Builder is a free graphical interface to the Windows version of PDFTK making it much easier to use.


Collate - allows you to rearrange (reorder, delete, & duplicate) pages in a single document and/or merge pages from multiple PDF documents. Multiple documents will be merged in the order they are listed in the 'Source Documents' window. If page ranges are not specified, PDFTK Builder will assume all pages for that document are to be included. Page ranges can be indicated by using a single page number, or a hyphen between start and end pages (reversed page orders are allowed). Multiple ranges are indicated by using commas or semi-colons between ranges.

For example: if you wished to insert pages from one document into the middle of another, then the primary document would need to be listed twice, once before (listing pages to appear before) and once after (listing pages to appear after) the document containing the pages to be inserted.

Split - allows you to separate each page of a PDF document into its own file.

Background or Stamp - 'Background' enables you to add a background to each page in a document or just the first page. The 'background' (eg a company logo, or a 'draft' watermark) must be another PDF document (the first page of that document if it has more than one page). 'Stamp' is very similar to 'background' except that the 'stamp' is placed on top of the source document.

Rotate - 'Rotate' enables you to rotate a range of pages in a document.

There's more, of course, but that should be enough to whet your appetite. Now go forth and compute.

Posted by Physics Geek at August 29, 2007 12:18 PM | TrackBack StumbleUpon Toolbar Stumble It!

Very cool. I like PDF995. It is free for use for someone at home like me. particularly if I have something I want all my family to be able to read. I print to it, ignore the ads and go...

Posted by: vw bug at August 29, 2007 03:37 PM

I have Acrobat Writer, but I'm not proficient at it. Do you think that the second program that you listed would be easier to use?

(I had to leave the "mc" off the front of my email, as the filter thinks that is obscene.)

Posted by: Woody at August 30, 2007 11:21 AM