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The Ever-Changing PDF Picture

(March 2008) posted on Thu Mar 06, 2008

What's new in PDF workflow, and how XPS might change all that.

click an image below to view slideshow

By Stephen Beals

Another company actively working on automating PDF workflow using industry standards is Gradual, maker of Switch automation software. As CEO David Van Driessche reports, "We just released a new version of Switch that has built-in support for callas pdfAutoOptimizer. That might be of interest to users of a PDF-based workflow, as it allows the use of the transparency-flattening technology of Adobe Acrobat (and other features of Adobe Acrobat’s optimization technology) to be applied on PDF files automatically. As live transparencies become more and more widespread, many workflows still have problems dealing with them, and many standards and specifications (such as those of the GWG) don’t accept them.

"That means those printers receiving such files either need to send them back to the client (never a popular alternative) or flatten the transparency. The Callas pdfAutoOptimizer tool in combination with Switch can take care of the problem in a very efficient way."

A few notes about conversion

One frequent problem with PDF files is the need to get text out of them. Text isn’t readily editable in the PDF workspace, and that presents a major obstacle when files need to be repurposed. Acrobat 8 partially solves that problem by allowing users to export to Microsoft Word’s .doc format, however. It retains the images and takes a stab at retaining the formatting of the original document. The result is far from perfect, but the important thing is that you can now retrieve editable text from a PDF file.

Recosoft ( offers a product called PDF2Office, which the company says offers an enhanced font-matching and -substitution mechanism and the latest PDF Reconstruction v4.1 engine, providing improved performance and conversion results. Enhancements have been made to the layout-reconstruction process, augmenting paragraph formation, table recognition, columns construction and graphics processing. It might be a good choice for users needing export-to-Word capability who haven’t switched to Acrobat 8.

Smart PDF Converter (for Windows only, is another PDF-conversion tool, allowing three different levels of conversion: strict positioning mode that produces the original layout, easy-to-edit mode, and a basic simple-text mode. The product will also convert PDFs to html, and can even create a new html page for each page of a multipage PDF.

What about XPS?