[Solved] How to generate higher quality PDF export?

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[Solved] How to generate higher quality PDF export?

Postby ChessPub » Mon Nov 10, 2014 2:57 pm

I recently moved from MS Office to OpenOffice, and I want to produce some PDF files (mainly for printing purposes, but also to read onscreen). I have an old version of Acrobat (7) but whereas this works well with Word, it can't recognise ODT files. :(
The Writer 'Export to PDF' function produces PDF files that look OK, but they are not nearly as nice as the PDF produced by 'Print' and then using the Distiller printer driver (currently set at 2400 dots/inch), and also not as nice as the one produced by Bullzip (which is set at 600d/i), either. The only problem with using the 'Print' option is that I can't find any settings to add Bookmarks (or Tags), which makes the resulting PDFs pretty useless for me!
I don't want to have to cough up for an up-to-date Acrobat Program, so my question is: can I somehow get the 'Export' function to use the Distiller printer driver instead, or can I increase the print quality on the Amyuni ABS PDF Driver v400?
One final thing, is it possible to make the Writer 'Export to PDF' Security settings 'stick' somehow so that I don't have to keep adding a password each time I make a PDF file?
Last edited by ChessPub on Fri Nov 14, 2014 3:49 am, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: How to generate higher quality PDF export?

Postby acknak » Mon Nov 10, 2014 3:44 pm

I make pdfs from OO constantly and have never noticed any problem with the output quality that wasn't inherent in the content I was using.

Can you give us a specific example? I think we would need to have the .odt and the .pdf that you get from it to see what's happening.
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Re: How to generate higher quality PDF export?

Postby ChessPub » Mon Nov 10, 2014 11:05 pm

Don't get me wrong, there's no obvious problem with the output quality, it's just not as good as the alternatives, and I would like it to be better.
Here's a picture I made from a screenshot, with the distiller PDF on the left, and the OOS PDF on the right.

pdfcomaprison.png
Left distiller PDF, right OOS PDF


As you can see the text looks less refined, and the chess board font fairly grainy.
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Re: How to generate higher quality PDF export?

Postby keme » Tue Nov 11, 2014 9:48 am

I agree with acknak, we need to have the source and result files to see what's happening and how to fix it (if at all possible). A picture of the situation shows one symptom, but it is often necessary to dig deeper to identify the cause, so we can devise a possible remedy.

If you can't submit the entire file, just create an excerpt with a few (dummy?) paragraphs and that chess diagram.
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Re: How to generate higher quality PDF export?

Postby ChessPub » Tue Nov 11, 2014 2:07 pm

keme wrote:If you can't submit the entire file, just create an excerpt with a few (dummy?) paragraphs and that chess diagram.


OK, I've made a small document with the chess fonts (moves and diagrams) and made two PDF documents, one using 'Export to PDF' and the other using the 'Print' option with Distiller 7.
Attachments
PDF_conversion_with_chess_fonts_distil.pdf
(62.04 KiB) Downloaded 138 times
PDF_conversion_with_chess_fonts.odt
(16.19 KiB) Downloaded 214 times
PDF_conversion_with_chess_fonts.pdf
(52.38 KiB) Downloaded 139 times
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Re: How to generate higher quality PDF export?

Postby acknak » Tue Nov 11, 2014 3:39 pm

Sorry, I'm not sure I understand what to look for. The two pdf's appear identical on my screen, even at 400% zoom, and on my printer (1200dpi laser).
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Re: How to generate higher quality PDF export?

Postby keme » Tue Nov 11, 2014 4:32 pm

It is probably something to do with fonts used. The chess font used seems to be named "DiagramTTHabsburg".

Possible reason:
One PDF uses the installed font, and so will display differently on a computer without that font installed. The other PDF has had the letters of the font converted to graphic shapes.

Try to move both files to a different computer and see what happens.

Possible remedy: use a free font for the chess pieces, or convert all chess diagrams to graphic ojects.
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Re: How to generate higher quality PDF export?

Postby ChessPub » Tue Nov 11, 2014 8:53 pm

acknak wrote:Sorry, I'm not sure I understand what to look for. The two pdf's appear identical on my screen, even at 400% zoom

Yes, they do look identical when they are magnified, but the differences become quite stark when they go below 100%. When I open the 2 PDF files in a web page they look the same, but when I open them in Acrobat (or Reader) side-by-side (Tiled, vertical) on my screen at 75% (so that both fit on the screen) there are quite distinct diagonal lines across the dark squares on the boards on the 'Export to PDF' file.

acknak wrote:and on my printer (1200dpi laser).

That's good news. Can anyone see if they also both look OK on a mobile phone, perhaps?

keme wrote:Try to move both files to a different computer and see what happens.

I've opened them on someone else's computer and they look the same as on mine.

keme wrote:Possible remedy: convert all chess diagrams to graphic objects.

OK, how can I do this?
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Re: How to generate higher quality PDF export?

Postby keme » Wed Nov 12, 2014 10:57 am

ChessPub wrote:...
keme wrote:Possible remedy: convert all chess diagrams to graphic objects.

OK, how can I do this?


Several (a bit cumbersome) approaches possible:
  • Create your diagram in Draw and export to graphic format. (Perhaps you can just copy your current dagrams into Draw.) Insert the exported graphics in your Writer document.
    This should give output visually identical to what you have.
  • Create your diagram in Writer like you have now, and take a screenshot.
    You will still keep the piece shapes from the font, but image quality is limited by screen resolution and zoom ability.
  • Create your diagram in a chess game (I assume that you have one, and I suppose that all chess programs have "problem mode" where you can edit the board freely).
    You get "game optimised" graphics which may not look so good after scaling, nor in print.
    If you are lucky, there is an image export tool in the program. If not, you need to make a screenshot again, with same quality issues as above.
  • Use a chess diagram editor. There are downloadable and online (web) editors freely available.
    This looks like a good one to me. Some control of colors, piece shapes and image size. You need to use FEN formatted input (no drag/drop).
Note that this will not do anything to text appearance, which also is a concern of yours. I don't understand why that changes, but it may be another font substitution issue.

Also, note that the differences may not be quality differences in the PDF as such. Due to limited resolution on screens, the display of lines which are not perfectly vertical or horizontal will be distorted (which shows as jagged edges, varying thickness, "aliasing"). Some softwares will use "pixel alignment hints" to minimize this distortion on characters. If Writer export and Distiller virtual print have different approaches to this, and your PDF reader does not handle both approaches, there will be a difference. A few things to check:
  • Does the quality difference persist when you zoom in on the resulting PDF?
  • Is it the same when using different PDF reader apps?
  • How is the quality when you print the PDFs? What about a direct printout from Writer?
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Re: How to generate higher quality PDF export?

Postby ChessPub » Wed Nov 12, 2014 1:28 pm

keme wrote:Several (a bit cumbersome) approaches possible:

Yes, thanks, but I need to produce lots of large, continually-changing documents every month, so anything that requires a lot of extra time to implement would be out of the question.

keme wrote: If Writer export and Distiller virtual print have different approaches to this, and your PDF reader does not handle both approaches, there will be a difference. A few things to check:
  • Does the quality difference persist when you zoom in on the resulting PDF?
  • Is it the same when using different PDF reader apps?
  • How is the quality when you print the PDFs? What about a direct printout from Writer?

Firstly, I've been looking at the files using Acrobat and Acrobat Reader, and I suppose most clients will be using the free Acrobat Reader software.
The quality difference seems to get bigger when I zoom in, up till a point. When I've printed out one page from the 'Export to PDF' output the quality was unacceptable - diagonal white lines across the dark squares on the boards. This might not seem like much, but to a chess player who would be examining the boards it makes the output almost unreadable. :cry:
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Re: How to generate higher quality PDF export?

Postby ChessPub » Thu Nov 13, 2014 3:41 pm

I've been trying various free (or almost free) alternatives, and I'm going boss-eyed looking at all the different PDF files I've produced. Frankly, none of them have been that convincing in one way or another (not producing tags and bookmarks is a common problem), but one thing is quite noticeable: the Writer 'Export to PDF' output is always darker than all the other files I've produced, almost as if it is bold text. Why is this, maybe one of my settings is wrong?
I'd really like to go with this as it is (very) quick and easy to make PDF files from Writer documents, and I can live without having the password protection 'sticking', if only I could make it look a little nicer.
I might use this anyway, and see if there are any complaints - I can always buy a more up-to-date version of Acrobat if necessary (although there is no way I would go with their current subscription scheme!)
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Re: How to generate higher quality PDF export?

Postby ChessPub » Fri Nov 14, 2014 3:45 am

keme wrote:It is probably something to do with fonts used. The chess font used seems to be named "DiagramTTHabsburg".

Yes, it looks like you are right, I've been experimenting with various chess diagram fonts and have found a very similar one that doesn't have the same streakiness when using the 'Export to PDF' function, it actually looks almost identical to the output produced by Acrobat so that's perfect. Printing is much better too.
I guess the slight darkness of the output may well be alterable by changing the font for the text (and piece figurines) too, but it is really not such a serious problem.
Thanks for your help guys! :super:
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Re: [Solved] How to generate higher quality PDF export?

Postby ChessPub » Wed Nov 19, 2014 9:07 pm

I've been producing quite a few PDF files now and they look nice, but the file sizes are quite a lot bigger than the files I produced before (using Word and Acrobat/Distiller).
Then today, by chance, I noticed the command 'Reduce file size' on the 'File' menu in Adobe Acrobat. So, I tried it and it reduced my OOS PDF from 600+kb to 500kb, and the quality appears to be identical.
So this begs the question, why is there this extra 100kb in the Writer PDF, and I can I just get rid of it without any consequences?
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Re: [Solved] How to generate higher quality PDF export?

Postby ChessPub » Wed Nov 19, 2014 9:58 pm

I've just noticed that opening my Writer-generated PDF in Acrobat Reader XI, and then doing a simple 'save as' makes an even smaller file and adds 'Fast web view'!
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