Archive for the ‘PDF’ Category.

New book: Taming Apache OpenOffice

Taming Apache OpenOfficeThis book is for anyone who wants to get up to speed quickly with Apache 3.4. It introduces Writer (word processing), Calc (spreadsheets), Impress (presentations), Draw (vector drawings), Math (equation editor) and Base (database), as well as common features including styles, templates, printing, a gallery of graphics, and macros.

Printed copies of Taming Apache OpenOffice 3.4: Getting Started are available from for US$20.78. Pay at

If you prefer, you can download the PDF here. Cost is US$5.00, on the honor system. Please pay using the button below (Paypal or credit card). This book has no DRM; you may copy it onto as many of your devices as you wish. If you buy a printed copy, you are welcome to a free copy of the PDF.

You can also download individual chapters (PDF or ODT) free from this website. These files may differ slightly from the content of the printed book and full PDF.

The Magic of Editable PDFs

I’m a bit late in linking to Simon Phipps’ article, The Magic of Editable PDFs, but it’s such a great tip that you need to know about it (if you don’t already). Here’s a sample:

Did you know you can send a final document as a PDF attachment that everyone will be able to open and view, but which people who need to will also be able to open and edit? The document that can do this magic is called a “Hybrid PDF”, and anyone can make one using open source software. LibreOffice (and related packages like have been able to make these editable PDFs for quite some time. A Hybrid PDF is a normal PDF file that any PDF reader can display, but with the added benefit that the original source document is also embedded in the file. Any suitably advanced office suite, such as LibreOffice, is able to retrieve the source and allow you to edit it.

Printing problems may be overcome

After several tries, I think (I hope) I have finally given a PDF of Getting Started with 3.3 that all of their printers will be happy with. Although I had followed Lulu’s How to make a PDF using OpenOffice instructions exactly, the file continued to have problems, printing on some printers (for example, Australia) but not others (don’t know where).

Finally they gave me a different set of instructions, which was “take the file you get from OOo, use Acrobat to create a PostScript file from it, then use Adobe Distiller (with Lulu’s joboptions file, linked from the bottom of this page) to produce a new PDF”. I really dislike having to use Adobe Acrobat, but if that’s the only way to get a file that is accepted by all Lulu’s printers, I guess I’m stuck with it.

I’m assuming that the problem printer(s) belong to Lightning Source, which I understand does most of the work for several print-on-demand services, not just Lulu. Lightning Source has very strict guidelines for creating acceptable files, including “must be distilled using Adobe Acrobat”.

Impress Guide 3.2.1 chapters published

The long-awaited updates to chapters in the Impress Guide were published on 2 November by the OOoAuthors team. A compiled book should be available by the end of the month.

The chapters are available in free PDF from this wiki page.

Work has begun on updates to cover Impress 3.3.

Create fill-in PDF forms to save & email

I want to use to produce some forms for students to fill in and email to their instructors. I want these forms to be in PDF so students can use Adobe Reader (or any other PDF viewer with form-filling capability, if there are any, or any browser equipped with the Adobe Reader plug-in) to fill them in.

Unfortunately, I cannot do that using OOo alone: filled-in PDF forms created by OOo cannot be saved or emailed. (The filled-in data can be dealt with in other ways, not appropriate for this situation.) I did find an easy way to do it, using Adobe Acrobat Standard or Adobe Acrobat Pro. Although I dislike the necessity to use Acrobat, I am doing so for this project. Here is the method I used:

  1. Create the form in OOo Writer. (Refer to Chapter 15, Using Forms, in the Writer Guide.) See Tip below for an easy way to create space for someone to type in answers.
  2. Export the file to PDF. On the General tab of the PDF Options dialog, be sure to select the option for Create PDF form and set the Submit format to PDF.
  3. Open the PDF in Adobe Acrobat. Choose Forms > Run Form Field Recognition from the menu bar. If you had text fields in the form, the left-hand section of the results should be a Recognition Report. Scroll to the bottom of this section and click on To fix this text field…. (Picture below shows what it looked like after clicking on that link.) This enables typing in the spaces created using the tip at the end of this post.
  4. Creating text fields in PDF form

  5. Save the file under another name if you wish.
  6. Choose Advanced > Enable Usage Rights in Adobe Reader from the menu bar. This is necessary for people to be able to save and email the PDF with the filled-in data.
  7. Save the file.

Tip: If you want to have a space for someone to type in a short answer, you don’t need to create a text box form control. I used the underscore key (Shift+hyphen) to create an underscored space of appropriate length, which Acrobat converted into a type-in field. This also worked when I defined a right-aligned tab with the underscore as the fill-in character. Saved a lot of typing; once the tab was defined, all I needed to do was press the Tab key once to get a whole line of underscores.

However, if you want a multiple-line area for lengthy typing and text wrap at the end of lines, you will need to use a text box form control.