PDF In-Depth

FlashPaper vs PDF

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Dave Wraight picture

Dave Wraight

Dave Wraight has been actively involved with PDF since version 1.0 and today heads PDF software and resource company AcroTips.  More




The recent purchase of eHelp by Macromedia got me thinking about the future for one of eHelp's products -- RoboPDF.

Macromedia have never been one to actively embrace PDF and now that FlashPaper is really starting to hit the scene I was wondering if Macromedia's purchase of eHelp was simply a manoeuvre to remove RoboPDF from the scene so FlashPaper could play a more prominent role.

Macromedia's current range of products are truly great -- they have products for multimedia presentations, web site management, animation and authoring tools and of course graphics tools. Of all their latest product releases FlashPaper proves to be the most interesting new technology.

FlashPaper encapsulates a lot of the concepts and features that we have grown to love with PDF. However I wanted to know more and find out the nitty gritty to really see how they compare and see what potential FlashPaper could have.

PDF vs FlashPaper


We all know how to create a PDF, either using one of the many third party 'Print to PDF' tools, Adobes own printer driver 'Adobe PDF' or perhaps through the process of distilling a Postscript file into PDF.

There are many ways to create a PDF document using Acrobat. We can drag and drop files from the Operating System File Manager into Acrobat's desktop, choose File, Create PDF from within Acrobat, print to a Postscript file using any application and later process the Postscript file using Acrobat Distiller and we can even create PDF files using the Acrobat PDFMaker Macro available from MS Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Visio and also AutoCAD.

There are over 15 third party PDF creation 'Print Drivers' available, along with one that's open source and free -- PrimoPDF, there are also various other PDF Creation Libraries.

I found the PDF Creation tools and libraries at the PDF Store. There was actually more than 15 however it's difficult to separate pure PDF creation tools from other more complete solutions.

MS Word files can be converted into PDF or FlashPaper

But what about FlashPaper? How do we create a FlashPaper document?

It turns out the process is very similar to the process used to create PDF, there are two options we can make use of: 'Print to FlashPaper' using the 'FlashPaper Printer' driver or we can run the FlashPaper application and drag/drop our files into its main window.

The output of both steps is a ShockWave file (.SWF).

Method 1: Print to FlashPaper

Print to FlashPaper dialog

Method 2: Drag and Drop Source Files

FlashPaper Printer

When dragging content onto the FlashPaper Interface the application(s) that is(are) associated with the dragged source files is opened up and each file is printed to FlashPaper (i.e. the first method) -- however, the biggest difficultly I found with this method was that there is no technique for creating a 'composite' FlashPaper document -- i.e. if I dragged ten photos (.jpegs) into the interface I would get ten individual FlashPaper documents.

The FlashPaper Printer driver is actually part of Macromedia's Contribute application (Ecommerce/Web Management Tool), I found no reference on the Macromedia Website for an unbundled or separate version of the FlashPaper toolset, nor any reference to FlashPaper's integration into other Macromedia tools.

FlashPaper Printer Page Sizes

FlashPaper Printer Page Sizes built-in and Properties Dialog for the Printer. Custom Page sizes are easily created.

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