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how do we make a pdf file so that it can be read by EVERYONE?

 
steward
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so as some of you know we have had some headaches with the pdfs we've tried to give away in exchange for signing up for our dailyish email newsletter dealio.. in this thread I asked if we should be delivering them in a different way and we sort of came to the conclusion that our infrastructure in that regard is fine, but it's the ACTUAL pdf that we have had problems with.. so what I am asking in this here thread is, is there a way/program/app that we are supposed to use so that the pdfs we make ACTUALLY work on everyone's computers?!
 
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I don't know if this will help at all, but I used a couple of programs to mock up my PDC submission for Geoff's course last year.

1. Office Libre- It's a free tool kit similar in almost every way to microsoft office. It has a suite of programs for all the typical office type stuff. It's a great freebie that really made things so much smoother for my broke ass.

2. PDF Creator- It is another freebie that you can download and import documents to so that they can be formatted into PDF. I used this to compile all of my pictures, text and layered design concepts into one easily readable PDF document. It does it by using a printer port-like converter which allows you to either print directly or save as a PDF to anywhere on your drive or cyberspace.

Maybe that helps...



 
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Apple sub-licenses the PDF standard from Adobe so it's built right into the OS. On a Mac you can preview PDFs in Finder, open them in Preview, and to create a PDF you just "Print as PDF" from any program just as you would print to a printer. I've never had any problems with PDFs produced that way, nor has anyone ever complained about them being unreadable or anything.

On windows, I have had problems in the past with PDFs generated by 3rd party software, for instance exported from Photoshop or Office Word, or converted from PostScript. For problem-free PDFs on Windows, I've used Adobe Acrobat. But to be honest I haven't used Windows in quite a few years so maybe that has changed.

 
Cassie Langstraat
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Ian Ring wrote:Apple sub-licenses the PDF standard from Adobe so it's built right into the OS. On a Mac you can preview PDFs in Finder, open them in Preview, and to create a PDF you just "Print as PDF" from any program just as you would print to a printer. I've never had any problems with PDFs produced that way, nor has anyone ever complained about them being unreadable or anything.

On windows, I have had problems in the past with PDFs generated by 3rd party software, for instance exported from Photoshop or Office Word, or converted from PostScript. For problem-free PDFs on Windows, I've used Adobe Acrobat. But to be honest I haven't used Windows in quite a few years so maybe that has changed.



Thanks Ian. It is possible that the creator used something on windows that made it finicky. Not sure though. I am asking now.
 
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Cassie, free is always a good word. I use openoffice.org for many window/microsoft functions.
Here is a seven step process for converting a file to pdf http://m.wikihow.com/Create-a-PDF-File-with-OpenOffice
 
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I am not sure you will get a PDF to open on everything. They are quite fussy, and require that a device has some type of PDF reader software/app installed. I have spent too many hours of my life trying to help people "fix" their computer/phone to read PDF files.

If your PDF maker has options, save the PDF to the oldest/most compatible version available, and that will likely help a little, but that might exclude some of the newer devices.

Depending on the type of content in the file, saving as a .JPG or .PNG (for graphics) should work on most every device, but file size can become an issue. If the document is mostly text, a .txt format should be compatible with everything I can think of.

Another idea might be to save the file as some type of html format and post it to the permies.com server, and then you can just link the to html url from the email. HTML is pretty universal and should work on most/all devices that get email (excluding older blackberries), but your software needs some type of save as html option, or you might need somebody to convert to html for you.

Feel free to send me a mooseage if you could use any help with any of the above.
 
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if its in a pdf. it's in a pdf. the problem would be the other people's computers. maybe try including a link to download a free "pdf reader".
 
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Jason Machin wrote:if its in a pdf. it's in a pdf. the problem would be the other people's computers. maybe try including a link to download a free "pdf reader".



Plus one for this idea. You don't want to go down the rabbit hole of doing tech support for people that are trying to view the PDFs on readers that date back to the Clinton administration.

...or to paraphrase Paul, trying to accommodate everyone is a good way to become people's personal tech bitch.
 
Cassie Langstraat
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Jason Machin wrote:if its in a pdf. it's in a pdf. the problem would be the other people's computers. maybe try including a link to download a free "pdf reader".



but there were people who had pdf readers on their computers and the pdf was still ending up broken for them.. so that makes me feel like it was something wrong with the pdf and not the people's readers.


If you haven't read the long support thread in which these problems originated, you can do so by clicking here.

 
Cassie Langstraat
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John Wolfram wrote:

Plus one for this idea. You don't want to go down the rabbit hole of doing tech support for people that are trying to view the PDFs on readers that date back to the Clinton administration.

...or to paraphrase Paul, trying to accommodate everyone is a good way to become people's personal tech bitch.



But we want to get to the absolute bottom of it, so that we can give away more freebies! I can't give away more freebies if they pdfs are somehow broken!

 
Cassie Langstraat
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Lazlo Rose wrote:I am not sure you will get a PDF to open on everything. They are quite fussy, and require that a device has some type of PDF reader software/app installed. I have spent too many hours of my life trying to help people "fix" their computer/phone to read PDF files.

If your PDF maker has options, save the PDF to the oldest/most compatible version available, and that will likely help a little, but that might exclude some of the newer devices.

Depending on the type of content in the file, saving as a .JPG or .PNG (for graphics) should work on most every device, but file size can become an issue. If the document is mostly text, a .txt format should be compatible with everything I can think of.

Another idea might be to save the file as some type of html format and post it to the permies.com server, and then you can just link the to html url from the email. HTML is pretty universal and should work on most/all devices that get email (excluding older blackberries), but your software needs some type of save as html option, or you might need somebody to convert to html for you.

Feel free to send me a mooseage if you could use any help with any of the above.



We want it to be a downloadable file, so html won't work. .txt formats don't really work because the pdfs usually have lots of pictures, and vis versa for the .jpg options, they have lots of text as well, so can't save it as just a .jpg
 
Rick English
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So maybe, it would be worth while to save the PDF as a few different versions.

Using Photoshop, I can save to 4 different PDF standards, and 6 different compatibility versions, so we could give 10 download links. The downloads instructions could be something like:

Here are 10 different versions of the same file. One of them will work as long as you have software on your device to read PDFs. If you need a free acrobat reader, go here to download it:
https://get.adobe.com/reader/
(My guess is that this page would detect the device and show the appropriate download)
 
Cassie Langstraat
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Lazlo Rose wrote:So maybe, it would be worth while to save the PDF as a few different versions.

Using Photoshop, I can save to 4 different PDF standards, and 6 different compatibility versions, so we could give 10 download links. The downloads instructions could be something like:

Here are 10 different versions of the same file. One of them will work as long as you have software on your device to read PDFs. If you need a free acrobat reader, go here to download it:
https://get.adobe.com/reader/
(My guess is that this page would detect the device and show the appropriate download)



Yeah I guess the problem is that I am not the one creating every PDF we give away, so I was hoping there would be some app or pdf cleaner or something like that that I could just run the pdf through once I received it and then used it for giveaway.
 
Rick English
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You can open the existing PDF with either Adobe Photoshop, or Adobe Acrobat to save to different versions/formats, but both of those apps are pretty pricey. If you can get the PDF in my hands, I can open and save the PDF versions for you.

I found some instructions here using an old version of the free Acrobat Reader:
http://www.wikihow.com/Create-Backward-Compatible-PDFs

I can't vouch for how safe these files are, but here is a place to get old versions of acrobat reader:
http://www.oldapps.com/adobe_reader.php

 
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there are online pdf converters. http://www.pdfonline.com/convert-pdf/ is one.
-lol sorry i was unaware people can make fussy pdfs. could have something to do with operating systems or maybe they tried to compress it
 
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Cassie,

I like Lazlo's suggestion. On the page we can offer the original file for people to download. And maybe we should also include a note that reminds people to right click and "save link as". And then if we get the idea that people are having problems with the file format then we say "Here is the link for the original file - but apparently the file has some fancy stuff in it that can confuse some PDF readers. So HERE is a link for a PDF that was gently massaged to be able to be read by all PDF readers."

Or maybe it would be better to do the opposite: "Click HERE to get the file that should be able to be read by all PDF readers. Or you can click here to get the original file that some people have trouble working with." Maybe we could even mention on the page the exact file sizes to reduce problems. And, as always, provide a link to a thread to get help.

 
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have all the links...
original
fancy
old
new
pre-chewed just for you

....that just be me re posting what lazlo said. i'm tired its time for bed
 
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With regards to distribution of content, I think using Google Drive might be something to try.
 
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I load up my docs to share via google docs, if you have gmail or a google account, it's super easy. No need to convert or anything... create a folder for permie news and just put everything there then do "share" copy the url and post.... if that works for you. Some people get upset by perceived security issues... I think there are bigger threats out there and don't worry about google docs.

Simplify simplify simplify
 
Cassie Langstraat
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paul wheaton wrote:Cassie,

I like Lazlo's suggestion. On the page we can offer the original file for people to download. And maybe we should also include a note that reminds people to right click and "save link as". And then if we get the idea that people are having problems with the file format then we say "Here is the link for the original file - but apparently the file has some fancy stuff in it that can confuse some PDF readers. So HERE is a link for a PDF that was gently massaged to be able to be read by all PDF readers."

Or maybe it would be better to do the opposite: "Click HERE to get the file that should be able to be read by all PDF readers. Or you can click here to get the original file that some people have trouble working with." Maybe we could even mention on the page the exact file sizes to reduce problems. And, as always, provide a link to a thread to get help.



I thought Lazlo was suggesting that there be 10(or so) links on the page, one link for each compatibility version..

Was I wrong?

I believe he said "I am not sure you will get a PDF to open on everything."

 
paul wheaton
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Suppose we have a pdf file that is problematic. Then I think it would be good to provide the original pdf file and an alternative pdf file.

 
Cassie Langstraat
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paul wheaton wrote:Suppose we have a pdf file that is problematic. Then I think it would be good to provide the original pdf file and an alternative pdf file.



Okay, and we are just going to send the pdf (if it's problematic) to lazlo to convert it to an "alternative pdf file"? I have a current version of adobe reader and it won't let me do anything besides view pdfs and those older versions lazlo linked to brought up a danger warning on my computer when I tried to download the version 6.

 
Rick English
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I am happy to make my best stab at the most portable format I can make. If we still run into problems, I can keep creating new versions until the complaints stop.

What would be helpful to know is the type of device and the version of the software trying to open the PDF. My guess would be the issue is with older computers, but the issue could instead be with newer mobile devices as well.
 
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