View Full Version : Re: public domain PDF tools

11-14-2000, 08:34 AM
Dear Colleagues,

Thanks to Mel Siff for the info on PDF software. I thought you might want
to know that one very important use of the PDF format is as a form. Last
month I submitted a grant proposal to NIH using an editable PDF version of
form PHS398. I used the free Adobe Acrobat Reader to open this form, type
in the necessary information on the form (like using a typewriter on a paper
form, but much easier), the printing the edited form to my printer. The one
MAJOR headache, however, is that the free Acrobat Reader software does not
let you save your edited form to disk. If you exit the Acrobat Reader
software and sometime later find a mistake on what you printed, you cannot
pull up the edited form; rather what you pull up is the blank form and have
to start all over. So, what I did was type up all the info in a Word
document, then copy and paste into the PDF form. This copying and pasting
took a lot of time, and I am considering purchasing the full version of
Adobe Acrobat so I can save the edited PDF files to my hard drive next time.
This will save a LOT of time and allow me to save my full grant application
on disk for future use (in the exact same PDF format that I began with, just
without the blanks).

I wonder if any "free" software offers similar functionality as the full
Adobe Acrobat software (for editing existing PDF forms and saving them to
your hard drive). I couldn't tell from visiting their web sites. Does
anyone know the answer to this question? Thanks.

[Note: Since writing this note, I got a reply back from the Win2PDF people,
and they say that their software cannot be used to save editable PDF forms,
rather only to create non-editable PDF files. Sounds like I might need the
real thing (Adobe Acrobat) to do what I need. It may turn out that Adobe
Acrobat will become just as essential to most of us as Microsoft Word or
Excel. Nice to see a non-Microsoft contender doing well. Now if they can
reduce the price...]


Richard N. Hinrichs, Ph.D.
Dept. of Exercise Science and Physical Education
Arizona State University
Box 870404
Tempe, AZ 85287-0404
(1) 480-965-1624 (voice)
(1) 480-965-8108 (fax)
hinrichs@asu.edu (email)

-----Original Message-----
From: Ton van den Bogert [mailto:bogert@bme.ri.ccf.org]
Sent: Monday, November 06, 2000 10:15 AM
Subject: public domain PDF tools

Dear subscribers,

Dr. Mel Siff submitted the posting attached below and the moderators
of Biomch-L have decided to forward it, even though it is not
related to biomechanics. We believe it is of general interest.

Some additional information: I have used Pstill by Frank Siegert to
convert PostScript to PDF on the UNIX platform, with excellent results.
See http://www.this.net/~frank/pstill.html . Pstill is free for
noncommercial use. PostScript files can be produced by the printer
driver for Apple Laserwriter, which is included in the Windows operating

One advantage of PDF files not mentioned by Dr. Siff is that the contents
are protected: no text or graphics can be copied to other documents.
Another advantage of PDF is that all readers will see exactly the same
formatting. With a Word document, you could submit a two-page abstract
to a conference, only to be told that the Word document was three pages
on their system. PDF solves that problem.

Some funding agencies (e.g. American Heart Association) now require
grant proposals to be sent as PDF files.

Many thanks to Mel Siff for this useful information. I have not looked
in detail at the resources he found, but it seems to be relatively easy
to produce PDF files from Windows applications for free.

Ton van den Bogert, Biomch-L co-moderator

------------ original message: -------------------------------------------

> From: Mcsiff@aol.com
> Date: Sun, 5 Nov 2000 04:08:22 EST
> Subject: Inexpensive PDF Programs
> To: BIOMCH-L@nic.surfnet.nl

By now, many of you are familiar with PDF (Portable Document Format) files
that you can open on any computer provided that you have already downloaded
the free Adobe Acrobat Reader from:

While this free program allows you to read PDF files from MACs, PCs etc, it
does not allow you to create your own PDF files of academic and other
documents prepared in other programs such as Word, Photoshop, Freehand,
and numerous others. To do that, you usually have to buy Adobe Acrobat
(Writer) which will cost you about US $250. What many people do not know is
that there are shareware or free programs available that will create PDF
files for you. If you submit articles to journals or collaborate with fellow
professionals across the world, PDF files will make life far easier for both
sender and receiver.

The advantage of this is that you can create files that you can share with
anyone over the Internet, irrespective of which email system you are using.
I am sure that it has often frustrated many of you that the files which you
so carefully composed for a colleague who uses a different computer system
email service cannot read what you sent, especially if they contain tables,
graphs or photos. If this is the case, then converting your files to PDF
the answer. All that you do then is convert your files to PDF format, then
send them as attachments to your friend and all will be well.

To help you do this, here are a few shareware and freeware programs that you
can download from the web:

For Macintosh:


For PC:


Once you have installed these programs on your computer, all that you need
do is to print to PDF instead of to your printer and these programs will
automatically create a PDF version of your original file, whether it
photographs and tables or not.

Dr Mel C Siff
Denver, USA

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