This month’s great tip comes to us from the ever innovative Ron Chichester of Tomball, Texas. He writes that he’s always creating PDF documents from scanned (jpeg) images, but doesn’t always have access to Adobe Acrobat. In a pinch, he’s found the following FREE tools handy. Thanks, Ron!
PDF is a standard format for electronic discovery, court filings, and other documents encountered by attorneys. One of the mundane chores of law firms is the creation of PDF documents from scanned images in jpeg format. Most lawyers think they have to purchase a copy of Adobe Acrobat (full version) in order to create PDF documents. Not so.
It may be the worst kept secret, but Adobe doesn’t own the portable document format (“PDF”). Although Adobe created the format, it is an open standard recognized by the International Standards Organization (“ISO”) as ISO 32000-1:2008. Because it is an open standard, a plethora of software applications have emerged to create and manipulate PDF documents.
In this TechTip, we’re going to describe a few *free* tools for creating and manipulating PDF documents. These are great tools to use when you don’t want to splurge for Adobe Acrobat for every machine in the firm.
For Windows users, there is a great tool called “PDFCreator”. As the website says:
PDFCreator is a free tool to create PDF files from nearly any Windows application.
* Create PDFs from any program that is able to print
* Security: Encrypt PDFs and protect them from being opened, printed etc.
* Send generated files via eMail
* Create more than just PDFs: PNG, JPG, TIFF, BMP, PCX, PS, EPS
* AutoSave files to folders and filenames based on Tags like Username, Computername, Date, Time etc.
* Merge multiple files into one PDF
* Easy Install: Just say what you want and everything is installed
* Terminal Server: PDFCreator also runs on Terminal Servers without problems
* And the best: PDFCreator is free, even for commercial use! It is Open Source and released under the Terms of the GNU General Public License.
You can get a copy of PDFCreator at: http://www.pdfforge.org/products/pdfcreator
For Mac users, making a PDF from a set of jpeg images is very easy. You have all the tools you need in Preview. Simply follow these steps:
1) Makes sure images are in alpha/numerical order
2) Select all images an open with Preview
3) Once in Preview Select All from Sidebar
4) Go to File » Print Selected Pages…
5) Select PDF, then Save as PDF…
For Linux users, you have a large number of choices — all free with standard Linux distributions like Ubuntu or SuSE. The most popular is ImageMagick — a Swiss army knife of sorts for image files. One of the cool things that you can do with ImageMagick is to place Bates stamps on PDF documents in an automated fashion. Incidentally, ImageMagick is also available for Windows and Mac users, so a more lengthy description is warranted. According to the website (http://www.imagemagick.org/script/index.php):
“ImageMagick® is a software suite to create, edit, and compose bitmap images. It can read, convert and write images in a variety of formats (over 100) including DPX, EXR, GIF, JPEG, JPEG-2000, PDF, PhotoCD, PNG, Postscript, SVG, and TIFF. Use ImageMagick to translate, flip, mirror, rotate, scale, shear and transform images, adjust image colors, apply various special effects, or draw text, lines, polygons, ellipses and Bézier curves.
“The functionality of ImageMagick is typically utilized from the command line or you can use the features from programs written in your favorite programming language. Choose from these interfaces: G2F (Ada), MagickCore (C), MagickWand (C), ChMagick (Ch), ImageMagickObject (COM+), Magick++ (C++), JMagick (Java), L-Magick (Lisp), NMagick (Neko/haXe), MagickNet (.NET), PascalMagick (Pascal), PerlMagick (Perl), MagickWand for PHP (PHP), IMagick (PHP), PythonMagick (Python), RMagick (Ruby), or TclMagick (Tcl/TK). With a language interface, use ImageMagick to modify or create images dynamically and automagically.
“ImageMagick is free software delivered as a ready-to-run binary distribution or as source code that you may freely use, copy, modify, and distribute. Its license is compatible with the GPL. It runs on all major operating systems.
“Here are just a few examples of what ImageMagick can do:
* Format conversion: convert an image from one format to another (e.g. JPEG to PDF)
* Transform: resize, rotate, crop, flip or trim an image
* Transparency: render portions of an image invisible
* Draw: add shapes or text to an image
* Decorate: add a border or frame to an image
* Special effects: blur, sharpen, threshold, or tint an image
* Animation: create a GIF animation sequence from a group of images
* Text & comments: insert descriptive or artistic text in an image [Like a Bates stamp]
* Image identification: describe the format and properties of an image
* Composite: overlap one image over another
* Montage: juxtapose image thumbnails on an image canvas
* Motion picture support: read and write the common image formats used in digital film work
* Image calculator: apply a mathematical expression to an image or image channels
* High dynamic-range images: accurately represent the wide range of intensity levels found in real scenes ranging from the brightest direct sunlight to the deepest darkest shadows
* Encipher or decipher an image: convert ordinary images into unintelligible gibberish and back again
* Virtual pixel support: convenient access to pixels outside the image region
* Large image support: read, process, or write mega- and giga-pixel image sizes
* Threads of execution support: ImageMagick is thread safe and most internal algorithms are OpenMP-enabled to take advantage of speed-ups offered by the dual and quad-core processor technologies”
Best of all, these tools are free so you’re not going to need a bank loan to try them out. Heck, put them on a thumb drive when you’re in a pinch and can’t get to that $$ copy of Acrobat.
The tips contained herein are provided for informational purposes only. Neither the State Bar of Texas nor the Computer & Technology Section endorse any site or product mentioned herein.