[Solved] Can PDF files be edited in OOo?

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[Solved] Can PDF files be edited in OOo?

Postby Artdrum.com » Fri Jan 25, 2008 6:34 am

Do any of the programs, Base, Calc, Draw, Impress, Math or Writer, in OpenOffice 2.3 allow one to edit PDF files?
If not, are there any other applications from OpenOffice, or within OpenOffice 2.3, which allow you to edit PDF files?

Thanks greatly,
Greg
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Re: PDF files

Postby Bhikkhu Pesala » Fri Jan 25, 2008 7:33 am

No. There are no programs in the Office suite that will let you edit PDF files.

The free PDF-XChange Viewer will let you add comments, to edit PDF files, look at some of Tracker software's other (not free) products.
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Re: PDF files

Postby foxcole » Sun Jan 27, 2008 11:58 pm

Artdrum.com wrote:Do any of the programs, Base, Calc, Draw, Impress, Math or Writer, in OpenOffice 2.3 allow one to edit PDF files?
If not, are there any other applications from OpenOffice, or within OpenOffice 2.3, which allow you to edit PDF files?

Because PDF is a proprietary format owned by Adobe, and because Adobe strictly controls who has license to edit a PDF file, few programs exist that can do this (and even fewer do it well) and I doubt that any of them are free. Whenever you need the content to change in a PDF file, you should do everything you can to obtain and edit the original file. Not even Adobe Acrobat can always edit a PDF file, especially if there's more than just a word or two to change, and come out with good results. PDF is a printed format, never designed to be edited except for typographical tweaks... that's why you don't just create the document from a blank PDF file in the first place.
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Re: PDF files

Postby AndrewZ » Mon Jan 28, 2008 12:35 am

PDF Import is coming in OpenOffice.org version 3. It's not exactly editing, but in many situations, it accomplishes the same goal. Until then, Google is your friend: http://www.google.com/search?q=pdf+edit
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Re: PDF files

Postby AndrewZ » Thu Jun 05, 2008 4:28 pm

foxcole wrote:Because PDF is a proprietary format owned by Adobe, and because Adobe strictly controls who has license to edit a PDF file


I think Adobe is actually quite good about the format and licensing. Some of its PDF variations, such as PDF/X, are open standards.

In any case, PDF is open enough because now the PDF import extension is ready for testing, and it even provides cool hybrid PDFs, which I assume are made possibly by the openness of the PDF format.
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Re: PDF files

Postby foxcole » Fri Jun 06, 2008 5:04 am

AndrewZ wrote:
foxcole wrote:Because PDF is a proprietary format owned by Adobe, and because Adobe strictly controls who has license to edit a PDF file


I think Adobe is actually quite good about the format and licensing. Some of its PDF variations, such as PDF/X, are open standards.

The third-party programs are still limited as to what they are or are not allowed to do with a PDF file. None of them that can actually edit PDFs have all of the features available in Acrobat, and they produce an older version of PDF, not the most current one. Can't fault Adobe for that, really... nor for choosing how to protect or open up their proprietary format, as they recognize its ubiquity but still need to make money on their software.
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Re: PDF files

Postby AndrewZ » Fri Jun 06, 2008 6:32 am

Fox,

Are you sure it's just not a lack of resources on the part of these companies that cannot compete with Adobe Acrobat Professional? The Wikipedia page on PDF states:

PDF is an open standard


and

Anyone may create applications that read and write PDF files without having to pay royalties to Adobe Systems; Adobe holds patents to PDF, but licenses them for royalty-free use in developing software complying with its PDF specification.
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Re: PDF files

Postby foxcole » Fri Jun 06, 2008 10:48 pm

AndrewZ wrote:Are you sure it's just not a lack of resources on the part of these companies that cannot compete with Adobe Acrobat Professional? The Wikipedia page on PDF states:

PDF is an open standard

Parts of it are open standard.

AndrewZ wrote:
Anyone may create applications that read and write PDF files without having to pay royalties to Adobe Systems; Adobe holds patents to PDF, but licenses them for royalty-free use in developing software complying with its PDF specification.

Rearing and writing PDFs are not editing PDFs, though. We were talking about editing PDFs that have already been created, and that licensing is still controlled and must be negotiated with Adobe.
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Re: PDF files

Postby acknak » Fri Jun 06, 2008 11:18 pm

I'm afraid I have to agree, Fox. Can you provide a reference supporting this statement?

I have heard this in the past, and it may have been true at one time, but the current PDF spec from Adobe imposes no restriction on what you can do with the information in it.

I think it's simply that editing a PDF is far more difficult, and virtually unnecessary in the FLOSS world, because PDF is and end-product. The editing tools are all upstream, using a higher-level document format.

It is certainly possible that if you started a company that marketed a direct competitor for Acrobat, that Adobe would make some move against you: require a patent license, or something like that, but as far as I can see, they're not telling anyone up front that PDF is not for editing.
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Re: PDF files

Postby Bhikkhu Pesala » Sat Jun 07, 2008 6:21 am

This is what it says in the Help file for PDF-XChange Reader:
To accompany the standard format, Adobe created a free viewer to ensure that anybody could view distributed PDF file's freely without requiring the purchase of any additional software - the viewer was made freely available.

To create PDF files the user could purchase Adobe Acrobat from Adobe direct or as the specification of PDF format was freely available to competing software authors - software applications from 3rd parties quickly appeared and this healthy competition along with the stability of a freely available viewer at no cost has ensured that the PDF format has now become 'the' preferred method to share documents between Government agencies, departments privately and for companies large and small.

Everybody was happy, Adobe was the philanthropic author of a world wide standard available to anyone, End users and Suppliers could share all manner of documents and information and there was a healthy 3rd party software community expanding the market and ensuring that inexpensive solutions for creating and manipulating PDF files were available for even the smallest business and private user whilst Adobe remained at the top of the heap providing heavyweight commercial solutions for big business.

And then ... for some reason only known to Adobe, they decided that some functionality would be available to users of their free Adobe Reader only if they used a product officially 'certified' this functionality to do so by Adobe - all competing software applications would now have to apply to Adobe for a certificate or the new functionality would not be possible with files made by competing and 'non' certified PDF creation and manipulation tools.

Suddenly the 'Open' PDF format was not so open and it is our concern that Adobe will continue to extend this in the future to regain some degree of control over who can create software with the ability to offer advanced PDF creation and manipulation functionality - whereas in the past the primary reason for the success of this standard format has been the fact that any software company has been free to create products for the purpose without interference from any party - including Adobe.

And that is why we have taken almost 2 years to create the 'Free' PDF-XChange Viewer to allow PDF files created by any software (not just ours or Adobe's) that adheres to the open PDF format specification as defined by Adobe - to take advantage of these extended features.
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Re: PDF files

Postby foxcole » Tue Jun 10, 2008 6:28 pm

acknak wrote:I'm afraid I have to agree, Fox. Can you provide a reference supporting this statement?

I am working on finding a relevant one. This topic has been often and at length discussed in various user forums, but I'm trying to find a more substantial reference for you.

acknak wrote:I have heard this in the past, and it may have been true at one time, but the current PDF spec from Adobe imposes no restriction on what you can do with the information in it.

I suspect that the fact Adobe's very own editing software, Acrobat, comes in two different licenses (Standard and Professional) points to restrictions on what functionality can or cannot be provided to edit PDF files.
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Re: PDF files

Postby acknak » Tue Jun 10, 2008 6:56 pm

I would be interested in what you find, but don't make a project of it on my account.

As B.P already pointed out, it really comes down to what Adobe decides to do: they can find all sorts of creative ways to make your like miserable, even if they don't warn you about it in the license terms. Further, it would take a lawyer to interpret the terms they have written, and even then, the lawyer would only tell you how likely it is that they would take you to court, and how likely it is that they would win.

In other words, I'm not sure there is an answer that really means anything.

Also, as I think the text from PDF-XChange quoted above refers to, there are some features of PDF that are important for some business uses (e.g. protection and DRM) that are completely worthless if anyone can implement the feature, however that does not make PDF as a format proprietary. It only means that Adobe has some strong incentive to control how such features are implemented.

The only real proof that PDF is open for editing would be a competitive alternative to Acrobat that is not licensed or encumbered by Adobe. There are none now (that I know of), but there are many potential reasons for that.

I have software that creates PDF output, and displays PDF files. PDF is open enough for my purposes.
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Re: PDF files

Postby sybille » Tue Jun 10, 2008 8:31 pm

I'm not so sure that PDF is not open... Certainly, the PDF specification that is an ISO standard is open, and it does include PDF editing.

Adobe states this on their PDF reference page:
Adobe wrote:Adobe publishes the PDF specification to foster the creation of an ecosystem around the PDF format. The PDF Reference provides a description of the Portable Document Format and is intended for application developers wishing to develop applications that create PDF files directly, as well as read or modify PDF document content (emphasis added).
[...]
The [PDF Reference, Sixth Edition, version 1.7] document, ISO 32000, submitted to ISO for balloting is a reformatted version of the Adobe PDF 1.7 Reference. The ISO 32000 document delivered to ISO preserves the technical integrity of the Adobe PDF 1.7 Reference with content that is vendor neutral, more precise and conforming to ISO conventions. The submitted document represents a complete expression of the PDF standard (emphasis added).

The standard does include all sorts of PDF features, such as JavaScript, forms, digital signatures, and multimedia content. The whole reference file is available here: http://www.adobe.com/devnet/pdf/pdf_reference.html

As far as non-Adobe implementations are concerned, there is an on-going project supported by the Free Software Foundation to develop both a library and an application for reading, writing, and editing PDFs as defined by the ISO standard: GNU PDF. It's a fairly new project, but then again, ISO approval only happened last December.

I wonder if the help file for PDF-XChange Viewer was written before the ISO submission or approval. I don't know all of the history, but it seems to me that there's been a kind of working toward openness for Abobe with respect to the PDF format. But I do think the ISO approval has changed things, even if end users have yet to see it in the form of an alternative PDF editing tool.
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Re: PDF files

Postby acknak » Tue Jun 10, 2008 9:23 pm

Excellent information, sybille! Thanks for putting that together.
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