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PDF to signatures program

Just like it says folk, only printing here

PDF to signatures program

Postby Serendipiti on Wed Apr 30, 2008 3:36 am

I've written a program to turn a PDF document into signatures. It splits the file into signature sized chunks, rearranges the pages and places them two to a page in a set of new PDFs. When you print out the new PDFs they are ready for folding and sewing.

I wrote it because I couldn't find anything like it on the web, just booklet producing programs. There was nothing that could handle a novel or textbook and I have been using my program to print out ebooks and formatted Gutenberg Project texts.

I can't believe that I am the only person in the world who wants a program like this, so I've posted it on my website.

The upside:

The program is free and Open Source.
It is in Java, so should run on any Windows, Linux or Mac box that has Java running.

The downside:

The current features tend heavily towards what I need and may not suit other people.
About 20% of the PDFs I put through it didn't work, for reasons unknown. But hey, something is better than nothing, right?

My purpose in posting here is to discover if I am indeed the only person in the world with a need for this, and if not, to get some feedback from other people who might find it useful. If there is a demand (read, at least one other person in the world who has a use for it) I am willing to expand and develop the program into a more general tool.

Find it here...



Andy
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Postby permtilperm on Wed Apr 30, 2008 5:15 am

You're not alone !!!

I found this ClickBook program from BlueSquirrel.com after a lot of search - and since it was a fairly low investment - I took the chance.
To me it has worked very well.

It works like a virtual printer - which means that it doesn't matter if it's Word, Open Office, PDF (or whatever).
Just sendt the document to the printer - and then tell page size, pages per signature, margins etc.
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Postby permtilperm on Wed Apr 30, 2008 6:42 am

I forgot to mention:

There is of course a drawback for the ClickBook: Its only for Win and Mac.
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Manipulating PDF's...

Postby vb_hunt on Wed Apr 30, 2008 7:40 am

It's nice that you've made a program to do this. I would just like people to know that PSUtils, a set of programs that are available for most computers, will manipulate postscript files about any way imaginable, including creating signatures of whatever size one desires. The biggest downside is that to use it, one must enter some fairly tedious commands at the command line instead of using nice graphical windows. The other thing is that to manipulate pdf files, one must convert them to postscript files, do the manipulation, and then convert them back to pdf after finishing the manipulation. In Linux (the system I use), the conversions are done easily with pdftops (included with GhostScript) and ps2pdf (included with Poppler Utils). I'm not sure how you would convert them in Windows, although I am pretty sure there must be a way to do it.

I've thought about making a program that would do the manipulations directly in a graphical interface; however, I haven't really had the time to do it, yet.

Brice
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Postby Serendipiti on Wed Apr 30, 2008 8:45 am

Before I wrote the program I had a bunch of Python scripts controlling Ghostscript, PSUtils and ps2pdf. It worked in a clunky sort of way, and yes, it was tedious in the extreme, motivating me to attempt a more elegant solution. I say attempt because the program could do with a bit more polish and features.

Andy
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Postby marktweedie on Wed Apr 30, 2008 9:44 am

Hi Andy,

I've just tested your program on a Mac and it seems to work like a dream. I have used other scripts and programs without success but yours is delightfully simple. I'll let you know how I get on when I try it for real.

Thank you very much for making it available.

Mark
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Postby BCWatson on Thu May 01, 2008 7:27 pm

Neat little Program. Just a couple things

1. It doesn't render Images sometimes. not that that interferes with anything.
2. Why separate PDF files Seems like a waste

and last What is the difference between Perfect Binding and Signatures? After a cursory Glance I didn't see any
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Postby Serendipiti on Fri May 02, 2008 12:23 am

Hi BCWatson

The clever stuff in the program is done by the open source libraries itext(chopping and rearranging) and JPedal(rendering) which I didn't write. I am still learning how to fit everything together and trying to fix the glitches. I'll look into the rendering.

The separate files are primarily to keep the signature sheets physically bunched together. I don't have a duplex printer, so I print one side of a signature, flip the sheets and print the other side. If the printer jams or pulls two sheets through there is a limit to the amount of ruined sheets since signatures tend to be around 8 sheets. If the signatures were in one file and all printed successfully you would still have to search through and separate them.

The perfect binding was a feature that I put in and never used. Each sheet has 4 consecutive pages when folded, the idea being that you fold every sheet individually to create a block, then trim the spine edge and glue. I haven't tried it yet and don't know if the idea itself is feasible.

It occurs to me that I haven't really thought about the documentation for the program. I'll work on it.

Apart from that, does the program do what you want and expect? I've been writing and using it for so long now that I lack the fresh eye that a new user has and so I sometimes miss the obvious.

Andy
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Postby BCWatson on Fri May 02, 2008 4:19 am

Yes the Program works wonderfully.

Like I said I would rather Print all Odd pages then reload the pages to print even pages. But I see where you are coming from in your logic... and as if to punctuate your thoughts I was printing last night and I had my printer jam while I was out of the room. Because it was separate file it was easier to fix. and I suppose if I ever needed to I could merger the PDFs to make 2 bigger files 1 per side.

But yes Thank you for the excellent Program. I really like reaping the benefits of other's hard work.
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Postby Serendipiti on Fri May 02, 2008 4:45 am

Always glad to help and thanks for the feedback.

I'm currently trying to add a feature allowing the user to set the size of the output, so you could make the printed area smaller or larger within the bounds of the size of paper. At the moment the output sizes are 120mmx180mm (A paperback size), 150mmx205mm (B paperback size) and Full paper size which is half the size of the paper in the printer setting. I think that a 'Custom size' option would be more flexible for some users.

As for merging the PDFs, PDFTK would do the job (though I imagine you already know about it). Or I could add a feature allowing users to choose single or split PDFs. What do you think?

Andy
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Postby BCWatson on Fri May 02, 2008 1:30 pm

User selection is always a good option if the code is not too bad. I can see many uses for both ways of doing things.
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Postby nermander on Sun May 04, 2008 9:30 pm

I have been using Multivalent (together with some wrapping scripts) but there is a project in works called EzPose that has graphical interface (for example you can do a "virtual folding" of your sheet).

(I can never find the Ezpose homepage when I look for it...)

EzPose does however currently use LaTeX(!) as it's backend engine to handle the PDFs. But I think he is going to switch to some PDF library.
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Postby nermander on Sun May 04, 2008 11:15 pm

Ah, the name is not EzPose but EasyPose... The logo though is EZPoZ.

http://easypose.die-buehne.net/
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Postby Serendipiti on Mon May 05, 2008 1:21 am

I wrote my program because I couldn't find anything similar on the web. Now there's the site posted above and I found this the other day . Easypose is a Linux program and Cheapimposter is on Mac, so we're getting varied platform coverage as well as a choice of programs. As they say in Britain "You wait ages for a bus, the three arrive at the same time."

Both have more features and better GUIs than mine. I'll have to up my game...

Andy
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Postby nermander on Mon May 05, 2008 3:38 am

I think Easypose will be ported to Windows sooner or later.

The developer has been very active on the Scribus mailing list (that's where I read about the program, and that's where he asked for input about it), and since Scribus is available for Linux, Windows and Mac I think Easypose will be too. Since it's just handling PDF files (and have a GUI) there aren't many problems porting it.


But I agree that it is very hard to find these small goodies.
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