pdf printing

Posted on 2013-11-08
Medium Priority
Last Modified: 2013-11-20
at work i have a user that has a program that will only output to a print queue, so she want to output to a pdf virtual printer.
I know that acrobat creates a virtual pdf printer, but because of the budget acrobat is too expensive and would be over kill anyhow since she only needs a virtual printer.
I also know that there are things like cutepdf, however, in our environment, only certain approved programs are allowed.
So I tried to output to microsoft's XPS and tried to open it in word 2010, because word has the option to save as a pdf, however, that didn't work.
So would there be any way to take advance of Word's option to convert documents to a pdf with my limitations?
Question by:JeffBeall
LVL 57

Assisted Solution

by:Joe Winograd, EE MVE 2015&2016
Joe Winograd, EE MVE 2015&2016 earned 320 total points
ID: 39634480
Hi Jeff,
One idea is to request that your folks at work put one of the many free PDF print drivers on the "approved" list of programs. Six good ones are Bullzip, CutePDF Writer, doPDF, Nitro PDF Creator (part of the Nitro Reader install), PDFCreator, and PrimoPDF:


Surely your IT folks can analyze, review, study, and test these and put the "seal of approval" on one of them. But if not, then let's figure out why Word's [Save As] to PDF is failing. You said that it "didn't work", but how exactly did it not work? It works fine here in Word 2007 and Word 2013 (I skipped Word 2010). Regards, Joe
LVL 39

Accepted Solution

BillDL earned 1040 total points
ID: 39634987
Hello Jeff

Documents created by the Microsoft XPS Document Writer virtual printer are not really PDF files at all, despite the fact that the progress dialog refers to "pdf printing" while it is generating the file.  They are extremely similar to Microsoft Word 21007/2010/2013's *.DOCX file Open Document format rather than being in the original Adobe Acrobat self-contained Portable Document Format.  XPS means XML paper Specification.

MS Office 2007 and later saves files by default with DOCX, XLSX, PPTX, etc extensions rather than as the DOC, XLS, PPT, etc, extensions created by Office 2003 and earlier.  The older DOC files are self-contained single files in proprietary binary format in which all the elements are in one file.  DOCX files are a collection of text-based *.XML files and separate JPG or PNG images all packed into nothing more elaborate than a standard ZIP file that is unpacked on demand.  The separate XML files contain all the long-winded layout information and cross-referenced elements so that the document is much more universally compatible with other non-Microsoft applications, and the whole thing functions not unlike the way all the files required for a web page are fetched and displayed in a web browser.

In the same way as you can rename a DOCX file with a *.ZIP extension and unpack it using WinZip, 7-Zip, etc, Microsoft XPS Document Writer's *.XPS files can also be renamed as ZIP files and unpacked.

A standard PDF file is very different.

By default an *.XPS file will open with C:\WINDOWS\system32\XPSViewer\XPSViewer.exe, which normally runs within an instance of Internet Explorer.  Fonts are packed into the zipped XPS file as separate *ODTTF files (Open Document True Type Font that are rendered by Windows Presentation Foundation/.NET Framework's PresentationFontCache.exe) so that the document should be rendered the same for everyone who later opens it again.  That's the "portability" idea that inspired Microsoft to create its own "portable document" file type, but it's really only portable between other Windows computers and not as universally portable as PDF files.

Virtual Printers vary in the detail they write to PDF (or XPS) files.  In some cases all they do is create a screenshot of each page that is determined to be a separate page, and the PDF file will contain a bunch of embedded image data and not text.  Others will try to convert text from the page being printed and write it to the PDF file, and will only create images where they are unable to convert the text.

This is apparent if you try to use the text selection tool in a PDF file to scroll over what appears to be text from the original page that was printed.  From what I have seen of PDF files generated by doing a "Save As > PDF" from Word 2007/2010/2013, most of the content has just been captured and written to the PDF as screenshot images whereby the text cannot be selected and the text content of the PDF files is not present should the documents need to be edited in a suitable application later.

I don't have Office 2007 or later on this PC.  I only have Office 2003.  My preferred "PDF Printer" is the "PDFCreator" one mentioned by Joe (http://www.pdfforge.org/pdfcreator).  I viewed this page in Firefox and did a File menu > Print, saving it as an XPS file and as a PDF file using the Microsoft XPS Document Writer and PDFCreator printers respectively.

The XPS file is 382Kb and the PDF file is 220Kb, so there's a significant size difference.  In both cases your question has been embedded as a screenshot image, and Joe's comment below that has been saved and embedded as actual text.  When opened (IE using XPSViewer.exe and Adobe Acrobat Reader respectively), it is only possible to select your question as an image and copy it for pasting elsewhere, but it is possible to scroll over and copy Joe's comment.

It is for this reason that it would be important to evaluate the various PDF Virtual Printers and compare the results with each other and against what I see as limitations of the XPS file format.
LVL 14

Assisted Solution

shahzoor earned 320 total points
ID: 39635266
Upload the documents to your google drive or google docs
and from there convert them to pdf :)
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LVL 41

Assisted Solution

footech earned 320 total points
ID: 39635271
BillDL - nice post!  Some great information.
I've found that the application doing the printing also has an effect.  When I printed this page to an .XPS from Firefox, everything (except for some headers) was an image.  When I did the same with IE9, everything was selectable text.
One thing that was same for both, the bar off to the left (with Link, Email, Monitor, etc.) was in right in the middle of the .XPS doc.
LVL 39

Expert Comment

ID: 39635560
Good observations there footech, and very interesting results.  I only use IE for Windows Update and OWA these days, so hadn't tested. Observations like this are the very things that need to be checked out whilst evaluating and shortlisting applications for multiple users.  It would be a case of evaluating the results created by the main applications that will be used the most for "printing" PDFs, and it sounds as though it will probably be MS Word.

It would be interesting to compare the PDFs created by Word's native Save As > PDF vs File > Print > "Named PDF Printer" for "selectability" of text and images and accuracy of original layout when opened in Adobe Acrobat Reader.

Author Closing Comment

ID: 39642023
hope you guys don't mind - but with a post like that - I had to give the most points to BillDL

thank you for the help
LVL 39

Expert Comment

ID: 39643997
Thank you Jeff.  I hope you find a PDF Printer that suits the user's needs.
LVL 57

Expert Comment

by:Joe Winograd, EE MVE 2015&2016
ID: 39664734
> hope you guys don't mind

Don't mind at all...that was an awesome post by Bill!

For me, having text (rather than image) is very important, as I like to be able to index and search documents with a powerful search tool (dtSearch). It does me no good if the PDF is pure image (unless, of course, I run OCR against it to create a so-called PDF Searchable Image file). But my experience with the PDF print drivers has been that they all create PDF files with text (so-called PDF Normal files) as long as the source material itself is text, such as a web page with textual content or a Word file. My experience has also been that [Save As PDF] in Word 2007 and Word 2013 (I skipped Word 2010) creates a PDF Normal file (i.e., text, not image). Regards, Joe

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