Sample Chapter: "Planning and Preparing for Output"
From "Adobe Acrobat 5: The Professional User's Guide" by Donna Baker

15 May 2002

Professional Users Guide Editor's Note: With permission of author Donna Baker and her publisher, Apress, Planet PDF is pleased to offer this sample chapter from her recently released book. Many of the graphics were reduced in display size to allow for faster display online. There's also a PDF version of this sample chapter with full-size illustrations, linked from the MORE INFO section at the end of this three-part sample. There may be some references in this excerpt that are out of context, referring to other chapters or files to which owners of the book would have access. We've also included links where this book can be purchased online -- or watch for details coming soon on how to win one of eight free copies here on Planet PDF! In the meantime, there's much to learn in this chapter -- and you can also read the Table of Contents to see what other topics are covered in the book. As a bonus, there's also a link at the end of this sample to a second free sample chapter -- "Using Advanced Acrobat Activities" -- available from the publisher's Web site.

Chapter 7: "Planning and Preparing for Output"

In this chapter, we will look at how to create some specific output formats. I will also give you the rundown on two functions that are new to Acrobat 5: batch commands and the PDF Consultant.

What If I Want to Make . . .?

This is where we fill in the blank. So far in this book, we have covered a lot of information-how Acrobat works, how to convert files into PDF format to work with in Acrobat, and how to manipulate and secure the Acrobat documents. I have explained how to comment and edit documents, and I've discussed how to collaborate on documents with others.

I have referred occasionally to concepts such as articles and reflowing. Well, it all comes together now. This chapter covers a number of interesting types of output. Along the way, we will look at some more information you will need to create specific output types.

Just a note before I start. Some output types have a chapter devoted to them because their requirements are specific and because they use different processes.

This includes accessibility, forms, e-books, and print. In this chapter, though, we will look at several types of output that you can create using the same source material and variations on the same processes.

Along the way, we will also look at some processes that I have hinted at or even looked at briefly in earlier chapters, including using the article feature. Then, we will look at a new plug-in for saving PDF files as different types of Web page formats, and we will conclude with a look under the hood at the metadata of our documents.

Before we delve into any specific output types, I first want to show you two new features in Acrobat 5. The first, PDF Consultant, analyzes and optimizes a file. The second new feature lets you create and use automated batch functions. Both of these features come into play as you prepare a document for export to another format or as an alternate form of output.

Using PDF Consultant

What a valuable plug-in! Regardless of the type of output you are planning, your output will be more efficient and more professional if the output is as clean and focused as possible. You use the PDF Consultant plug-in to inspect, analyze, and repair documents. PDF Consultant, which works at the object level, can perform a number of functions, including the following:

  • Detect And Remove: Lets you seek and destroy all those unnecessary elements that add weight to a file without contributing to its function.

  • Optimize Space: Allows you to decrease the file size by removing things such as invalid bookmarks or links.

  • Audit Space Usage: Indicates how much of the total file weight is attributed to different elements such as images, comments, fonts, and so forth. The values are expressed either in bytes or as a percentage of the entire file's size.

Let's put this feature through its paces.

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Optimizing and Analyzing a Document

Workflow Tip: Why Use a Feature That Removes What I Added?

You absolutely would use this feature. I selected All Comments, but if that check box were deselected, I would have the option to remove attached files or multimedia files. Think of how you work on a complex project. Until you reach the point where you are in an advanced draft stage, you might need all manner of accessory documentation.

However, your readers aren't going to be interested in, nor likely should they have access to, things like spreadsheets and financial information. So when you are preparing a draft for distribution as a finished document, delete all the attached elements and references.

I will use one of the demos I designed for Chapter 6 to illustrate how these processes work. Figure 7-1 shows the Document Summary dialog box. As you can see, the file is 29.9KB. Certainly not a big file, but we are going for concept, not quantity.

You access the PDF Consultant plug-in by selecting Tools * PDF Consultant and then selecting the desired option. The first option we will look at is the Detect And Remove process.

Figure 7-1: The Document Summary dialog box for this demo

Document Summary dialog box

Detecting and Removing

Also known as the seek and destroy process. When you select the Detect And Remove option, the dialog box shown in Figure 7-2 opens. As the dialog box warns, when you select items from this menu to remove from the document, you will lose any functionality the items provided-which only stands to reason. For example, you might choose to delete JavaScript Actions from a document. It would make sense, then, that whatever JavaScript functions had been present won't be available to you anymore.

Once you have decided what you need to strip from the file, click Remove. The job is finished. But what if you aren't sure that's what you want to do? Instead, click Analyze. The dialog box shown in Figure 7-3 will open.

As you can see in Figure 7-3, the Consultant found five comments and five Web links. Click OK to close this dialog box and return to the main Detect And Remove dialog box. Now decide what to remove and click the check boxes to select the items. Click Remove to strip the items from the document. Then click OK to close the dialog box.

Figure 7-2: Start with the Detect And Remove dialog box if you know what you want to remove.

Detect And Remove

Making Space

In the previous chapter, I showed you how to manipulate bookmarks and delete the unnecessary ones by smoothing out the hierarchy. Because the bookmarks were created automatically and converted into bookmarks in the PDF file, in some instances I could have a bookmark that points to nothing.

This PDF Consultant tool can remove invalid bookmarks as well as invalid or unused links. All of these changes will contribute to a smaller file size. Figure 7-4 shows the Optimize Space dialog box.

Figure 7-3: The Warnings And Errors dialog box

Warnings And Errors

Figure 7-4: Optimizing space using the PDF Consultant

Optimizing space

As you can see, there are two sections: one for bookmarks and links and the other for named destinations. So, for example, if you had created internal jumps or links or targets (so many terms for the same thing!) that weren't used in the final product, rather than tracking them down individually and removing each one, you can evaluate and deal with them all at once.

To use this tool, make your selections by clicking the appropriate check boxes or radio buttons, and then click OK to run the process and display the results (shown in Figure 7-5). Click OK to close the results window. That's it.

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Auditing Your File

Figure 7-5: Results of the Optimize Space process

Optimize Space results

The third tool in this set is used to perform a space audit. File size has become important in some organizations, particularly in government organizations, where literally thousands of files are being stored. By evaluating the content of a file, you can see how much space a type of object is using.

You might want to do a file audit before any of the other functions. I'll discuss that in a minute. Regardless, there is much information to digest after an audit has been completed. To initiate the process, select the Audit Space Usage option. Rather than a dialog box opening, the message shown in Figure 7-6 will be displayed.

If you save the file under another name, you are assured that the file has been completely saved. An audit can be run at any time, but unless everything in the file was saved prior to starting the audit, the results may not be valid. For example, at the last minute you might decide to add some new bookmarks to a file. If you forget to save the file before running the audit, your results will be valid only to the point at which the file was last saved. Therefore, click Cancel and give the file an alternate name by selecting File > Save As. Once the file has been resaved, the audit will automatically start. You won't have to restart the process again. On the other hand, if the file has been open but you are sure you haven't made any changes in it, click OK to run the audit. The finished audit for my file is shown in Figure 7-7.

Figure 7-6: Acrobat recommends that you save your document under a different name before running an audit.

To ensure valid results

Note: Depending on whether you are using an original file or one that has been through a Save As process, the message box in Figure 7-6 might appear when you select the Optimize Space tool as well as the Audit Space Usage tool.

Figure 7-7: The completed audit of my file

Space Audit results

Notice how many elements are actually in a document, even a simple one such as this. As you can see in the figure, my file has been reduced to 26.3KB. I started this demo with a file size of 29.9KB, so that is a whopping saving of 3.6K. As I said earlier, I was going for concept, not quantity. Once you have looked at your audit results, click OK to close the window, or click Remove Elements, which will open the Detect And Remove dialog box. We have come full circle.

One final note on the PDF Consultant-and here is the most interesting feature: All of these operations can be configured in the Batch Sequences process. In other words, in addition to exporting a batch of files, you can optimize them prior to export. Isn't that convenient?

And speaking of batch processes, let's have a look at those now.

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Batching Files for Conversion

Workflow Tip: Integrating PDF Consultant into Workflows

This process couldn't be easier. Depending on both the source material and the requirements of the output, PDF Consultant is a very valuable tool to have in the toolbox. If your file has been through a lot of collaborative processes, it probably includes many elements that can be removed safely before export. Get into the habit of integrating document optimization processes into your export workflow for consistently clean documents.

Batching, as I am sure you know from experience with other programs, is a way to automate repetitious processes. In the last few years, a number of programs have been released that use JavaScript as a basis for writing custom command sequences. Acrobat 5 joins that illustrious crowd. You can use batching commands on anything from a single document to a collection of documents.

The batching process is composed of three segments:

  • Defining commands
  • Defining files to execute the commands on
  • Defining storage locations for the converted files

Defining the Batch Commands

You can run any of a series of preconfigured commands or create custom sequences. We will look at both options. To create a new process, select File > Batch Processing > Edit Batch Sequences. The dialog box shown in Figure 7-8 will open. The window lists the preconfigured commands.

Figure 7-8: Start the batch command process in this dialog box.

Batch Sequences

Follow these steps to define the batch commands:

  1. Click New Sequence. A sequence placeholder will appear in the list at the right side of the window. Enter a name for the new command sequence in the pop-up window, and click OK to open the Batch Edit Sequence dialog box, shown in Figure 7-9.

    Figure 7-9: The Batch Edit Sequence dialog box houses the information for the command-building process.

    Batch Edit Sequences

  2. In the Batch Edit Sequence dialog box, click Select Commands. The Edit Sequence dialog box, shown in Figure 7-10, will open. This dialog box is the heart of the process. Included are a number of commands in the following areas:
    • Comments
    • Documents
    • JavaScript
    • Page
    • PDF Consultant

    Figure 7-10: The Edit Sequence dialog box with commands added

    Edit Sequences

  3. In the Edit Sequence dialog box, configure the commands for the sequence. You can manipulate the content of this window in several ways:

    • Select a command from the left pane of the dialog box and click Add. The command will be added to the sequence.

    • Delete a command by selecting it and clicking Remove.

    • To reorder the list, highlight the command to move, and click Move Up or Move Down.

  4. Set options for each command by clicking the command in the right pane and then clicking Edit. For example, as shown in Figure 7-11, you can configure the options for the Summarize Comments command by changing the attributes in this dialog box.

    Figure 7-11: An example of command configuration options

    Summarize Comments

  5. You can make some commands interactive. Click the white box to the left of the arrow next to the command to Toggle Interactive Mode. This mode pauses the batching process and allows you to configure options before executing the command. For example, look at Figure 7-12. I want to point out some details:

    • You can display the content of each command by clicking the

    • The sequence of elements in the command is displayed, as well as any options.

    • The Summarize Comments command has a white box to the left of the arrow. Click the selection box to the left of the command line to make a command interactive. This indicates that the batch process will be paused depending on what settings you used (as shown in Figure 7-11, I changed this setting to save in a selected folder).

    Figure 7-12: The content of the commands. The Summarize Contents command is in Interactive Mode.

    Summarize Comments

  6. Click OK to finish building the command sequence and return to the Batch Edit Sequence dialog box.

Once you've created a command sequence, it's time to define the target files.

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Defining the Target Files

Workflow Tip: Why Should Thumbnails Be Embedded?

Most of these options may be self-explanatory, except perhaps embedding thumbnails.

Depending on how a source document is converted to PDF, its thumbnails might or might not be embedded.

What's the difference?

Not much with a small document. With a large document, not embedding thumbnails saves time. If thumbnails are not embedded, each time the palette is opened or resized, the thumbnails will have to be redrawn. If you are unsure of the conversion settings, add this command. If the thumbnails are already embedded in the project you are running the batch commands against, the process will go to the next command.

Once you've established a command sequence, the next step is to specify the files on which you want the commands to be executed.

The options available are shown in Figure 7-13.

The drop-down list contains several options:

  • Selected Files: Select multiple individual files

  • Selected Folder: Select all the files in a selected folder

  • Ask When Sequence is Run: Allows you to select different locations and options as the situation requires

  • Files Open in Acrobat: Will batch any open files

The final part of the process is defining storage options.

Figure 7-13: Pick the options for running the command from this drop-down list.

Pcik the options

Note: In Windows, the files must all be in the same folder. They may be in different folders if you are using a Mac OS version.

Selecting Storage Options

Figure 7-14: Select the location to store the output from the batch processing.

Select location

Storage options include both location and file options.

  1. Select a storage location. By default, the files will be saved to their source folder. Other options are to save to a specific folder or to the same folder as the original, or to ask when the sequence is run (again for customized use of the batching process). These options are shown in Figure 7-14.

  2. Define the output options. Hidden beneath the selection list in Figure 7-14 is a button called Output Options. Click it to open the dialog box shown in Figure 7-15.

  3. The dialog box contains these options:

    • Same As Original(s): Uses the same filename with a PDF extension

    • Add To Original Base Name(s): Adds a prefix or suffix to the original filename

    • Do Not Overwrite Existing Files: Does not overwrite existing files if you are creating several similar files

    • Save File(s) As: Lets you choose a file format before each save

    • Fast Web View: Creates a Web page version of a document

  4. Click OK to close this dialog box and return to the Batch Sequences dialog box.

Now your custom batching command sequence has been created. In the Batch Sequences dialog box, click Run to run the batch. If you need to modify any of the settings, select File > Batch Processing > Edit Batch Sequences and select the sequence.

Figure 7-15: Make the final selections for the custom batch commands in this dialog box.

final selections

Preconfigured Batch Commands

As I mentioned earlier, a number of batch commands are automatically installed with Acrobat. The menu list, which you access by selecting File > Batch Processing, is shown in Figure 7-16.

As you can see, a number of basic processes can be accomplished quickly. If you look at the list, you will see that these are all useful ways to save time when performing the same kind of activities on a number of files.

That was quite a whirlwind tour, wasn't it? I think the best way to appreciate how this feature works is to use it. On that note, a project is up next.

CONTINUED in Part 2 of 3

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