September 16, 2004
"PDF Hacks": More Than Electronic Paper
Sebastopol, CA--To most of the world, PDF stands for that rather tiresome
format used for documents downloaded from the web. With a reputation for
being slow to load and slower to print, hopelessly unsearchable, and all
but impossible to cut and paste from, the Portable Document Format doesn't
inspire much affection in the average user. But PDF done right is another
story. Those who know the ins and outs of this format know that it can be
much more than electronic paper. PDF Hacks (O'Reilly, US $24.95) by Sid
Steward shows readers how to use a variety of PDF tools--not just Adobe
Acrobat--to create, rearrange, customize, and present information as PDF.
"Most books about PDF are really books about Adobe Acrobat, so they are
confined to solving all PDF problems using a single, expensive tool,"
explains Steward. "Meanwhile, people have been developing various tools
and libraries for making PDF do exactly what they needed. I wanted to
write a book that addressed common PDF problems by dipping into the entire
pool of available tools and techniques. I especially wanted to leverage
free --as in 'freedom'--software."
PDF Hacks unveils the true promise of Portable Document Format, going
way beyond the usual PDF as paged output mechanism. Steward draws from his
years of analyzing, extending, authoring, and embellishing PDF documents
to present 100 clever hacks--tools, tips, quick-and-dirty or not-so-obvious
solutions to common problems. The hacks cover the full range of PDF
functionality, from the simple to the more complex. Readers will learn how to
manage content in PDF, navigate it, and reuse it as necessary.
"We're beginning to see PDF closely integrated with programs such as Adobe
Illustrator or OpenOffice.org and with operating systems such as Mac OS
X," Steward notes. "Thanks to Adobe's open PDF specification and various
free software projects, PDF has begun to spread widely. As PDF spreads,
common questions become more pressing: 'How do I copy a table of data from
a PDF page?' And: 'What is the best way to integrate PDF with our web
site?' And: 'What do we do now, with all of these PDFs in our archive?'
PDF Hacks tackles these questions using newly available programs and
Ideal for anyone who works with PDF on a regular basis, including web
developers, pre-press users, forms creators, and those who generate PDF
for distribution, PDF Hacks demonstrates how to:
Customize PDF viewers to make reading PDF more comfortable
Create PDF files with a variety of tools on a number of platforms
Build PDFs with sophisticated navigation and interactive features
Integrate PDF files with web sites beyond a simple hyperlink
Collect data on your web site with PDF forms
Convert incoming faxes to PDF
Write scripts that control Acrobat
With the right tools, PDF is flexible, compact, interactive, and even
searchable; it's the ideal way to present content across multiple
platforms. PDF Hacks provides resources that anyone can use to create
PDF files that offer a richer, more powerful experience.
ISBN 0-596-00655-1, 277 pages, $34.95 US, $50.95 CA
O'Reilly Media spreads the knowledge of innovators through its books, online services, magazines, and conferences. Since 1978, O'Reilly Media has been a chronicler and catalyst of cutting-edge development, homing in on the technology trends that really matter and spurring their adoption by amplifying "faint signals" from the alpha geeks who are creating the future. An active participant in the technology community, the company has a long history of advocacy, meme-making, and evangelism.
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