Sponsor Article: Five interesting things you can do with PDF

After fifteen years spent reincarnating PDF files into an array of formats for our customers, you would think that we have seen it all at Visual Integrity. Still, the suggestions we receive from prospects and customers alike are a constant source of inspiration, and yes — even surprise. PDF has evolved well beyond its initial intention as an exchange format and we think that even its creators at Adobe would be surprised at some of the ways people depend on it in their everyday lives.

The key to knowing what you can do with a PDF file is to first classify it correctly. Once you draw the distinction between the two types — vector and raster — things becomes a whole lot easier. To classify a PDF file, open it in Acrobat Reader and magnify it to more than 800%. If the details in the drawing look sharp, it is a vector PDF and you can do more than you think with it. If zooming results in jagged or grainy details, it is a raster, or bitmap PDF and your options are more limited. Vector PDF files are versatile and can be transformed into formats easily digested by Windows applications such as Microsoft Office.

PDF files can be converted into editable Visio drawings, PowerPoint slides or Publisher and Word pictures. Here’s our short list of the most interesting ways we see people using PDF:

  1. Play it. Move over music books. A real trend we see is towards digitizing sheet music for display on dedicated devices like the MusicPad Pro or laptops. Musicians can use a utility like pdf2image to convert their music and import it into their library software or device as PNG or JPEG at the right resolution and dimensions with little effort.
  2. Chart it. You may receive business or financial charts in the PDF format and want to use them in your document or presentation. Using a tool such as pdf2picture, you can extract the editable objects and text from the PDF file and then edit the chart in Word or Visio. Simply convert, ungroup and then make changes to color, shape, line weight and more.
  3. Present it. Do you need to turn a PDF file you received into a PowerPoint presentation? First, make sure it’s a vector PDF. If so, you can use pdf2picture to transform it into the Microsoft picture format. Using “Insert picture from file”, just add each page to a slide and then ungroup the slides to make all your changes. Font types and sizes can be changed, colors can be modified and objects can be stretched, added or deleted.
  4. Estimate it. Buyers, when requesting bids from their supplier chain, will often attach a PDF file to the the RFQ to show the specified part in detail. Using a tool like pdf2cad, you can convert the PDF design into an actual CAD file that can be used in your estimating system. This saves valuable time redrawing the file in AutoCAD and ensures a more accuarte and speedy price calculation.
  5. Advertise it. PDF is widely used to deliver advertiser files for publishing online or in print since it ensures a perfect visual match. Usually, the ad needs to be reimaged and cropped during production to fit into the layout tool. A utility such as pdf2image allows you to maintain quality while choosing the right resolution — 96 dpi for the Web, 150 dpi for newsletters or bulletins and 300 dpi for professional print jobs.

All in all, once you know what kind of PDF file you have, you’ll be able to regenerate it in the format that is ideal for your project. Sometimes you’ll need to edit the objects and text; other times, you’ll simply need to re-image the PDF file at a higher or lower resolution. The key is to have the right tools at your disposal. That way, you can make the most of your PDF files.

Visual Integrity is offering an exclusive 30% discount to Planet PDF subscribers through December 31, 2008. Eligible products must be purchased on-line through the company’s web site and include pdf2image, pdf2picture, pdf2cad and PDF FLY. Use coupon code PLANETPDF when ordering.

Tip sheets on using PDF files in Microsoft Office can be found on the Visual Integrity web site. All products can be tried free for 30 days. The company web site is www.visual-integrity.com.

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About the Author: Jean Haney

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