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PDF Hacks: 100 Industrial-Strength Tips & Tools Paperback – August 26, 2004

ISBN-13: 978-0596006556 ISBN-10: 0596006551 Edition: 1st

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 298 pages
  • Publisher: O'Reilly Media; 1 edition (August 26, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0596006551
  • ISBN-13: 978-0596006556
  • Product Dimensions: 0.7 x 6 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #780,630 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Sid Steward is a programmer, writer and entrepreneur. He maintains the PDF Toolkit and wrote PDF Hacks. When he's not working on PDF, he's creating goodies like LookLeap (a better TinyURL), GoJot (social bookmarking meets site commenting), and The Punch Poll. He continually battles entropy and will gladly tell you about G del's incompleteness theorem. Bjarne Stroustrup is one of his heroes. Feel free to contact Sid.


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Customer Reviews

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I highly recommend this book for anyone using PDF to publish content.
Jack D. Herrington
If you want to understand the PDF format and what information on how to "hack" your PDFs, then you need a copy of this book!
ueberhund
Normally when I read a Hacks book, I'm already familiar with the core technology and I'm looking for little tricks.
Thomas Duff

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

42 of 47 people found the following review helpful By Bruce J. Kratofil on November 23, 2004
Format: Paperback
I have a love-hate relationship with PDF files. They are incredibly useful tools that solve lots of problems. They are unmatched for when you need to get your document turned into paper at the local print shop; you no longer have to figure out what file formats they handle at the shop, or worry about Windows to Mac conversions. As a webmaster, I also know they are the fastest way to have a version of your web pages that you know can be printed out with no problems. And of course they excel at what they were first designed to be -- a platform-independent electronic document that can be easily shared and viewed by anybody with a computer.

As a webmaster, I also see how PDFs are misused -- as a way of whacking together a website on the cheap, taking some documents that weren't necessarily designed to be viewed online and quickly and cheaply stick them up, whether that makes for a good user experience or not.

PDF Hacks: 100 Industrial-Strength Tips & Tools by Sid Steward illustrates both sides. These hacks include a number of highly useful ones that I immediately started to use daily. On the other hand, some of them also go to great lengths to get a PDF to do something that is probably better done in some other format -- such as HTML.

Let's concentrate first on how this book can help you. Like the other books in O'Reilly's Hacks series, it's divided up into sections. Here they are "Consuming PDF", "Managing a Collection", "Authoring and Self-Publishing: Hacking Outside the PDF", "Creating PDF and Other Editions", "Manipulating PDF Files", "Dynamic PDF", and "Scripting and Programming Acrobat". To get full value from this book, you have to be more than just a consumer of PDFs, using the Acrobat Reader or browser plug-ins.
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26 of 29 people found the following review helpful By ueberhund VINE VOICE on October 3, 2004
Format: Paperback
If only I had this book three months ago! I would highly recommend this book to anyone who wants to really understand the PDF format and know exactly what can be done with this format. Like the many other excellent O'Reilly "hacks" series, this book provides 100 different tips and tricks that can be used in dealing with the PDF format. Some of these hacks involve creating your own PDFs through third-party tools, others include tips on modifying PDFs after they have been created.

PDF Hacks are divided into four main sections: consuming, managing, authoring, and manipulating PDFs. Some of the hacks are quite interesting and cover things you might not otherwise think of. Once interesting hack is #25, "Convey Your Document's Value with Good Design". This hack actually discusses different issues with fonts including various typography tips and alignment issues. This is certainly an issue I think of rarely, but this hack shows some of the reasons to really think through this issue. There are many such hacks which are quite enlightening.

My favorite part of the book was toward the end, where the author discusses the tool "pdftk", which can be used to freely modify PDF files. The author proceeds to show how this tool can be used to change text within exiting PDF files without significant work. While this hack might not be used by everyone, it illustrates the type of advanced tips this book provides.

Like I said at the beginning of this review, I just wish I had read this book three months ago. After reading this book, the reader will have a much better understanding of the PDF format, as well as having a knowledge of the tools that can be used to extend the PDF format beyond what you might have initially thought possible. If you want to understand the PDF format and what information on how to "hack" your PDFs, then you need a copy of this book!
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18 of 20 people found the following review helpful By W Boudville HALL OF FAMETOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on August 31, 2004
Format: Paperback
Perhaps your experience with PDF is the same as mine. Mainly, to print files in this format. But Steward shows an entire neat little world of functionality hidden in PDF. While it may not have the obvious simplicity of HTML, the book shows many ways to make and edit such files.

For example, Steward shows how to have URLs link to specific points inside a PDF document. So if you are maintaining a website that has PDFs, you can do far better than most, by having links not just to the entire documents, but to pertinant locations within. A competitive advantage. The great majority of PDFs accessible on the web require you to view the entire document, for find what you're looking for. You should do better.

Steward also shows a logical inverse. How to embed standard URLs inside a PDF. Knowing both capabilities means a fuller integration of PDFs inside your website.

It also turns out that much of what the book discusses can be done with free editing tools, at least on linux/unix machines.

Good book for demystifying PDF.
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13 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Eric Wuehler on September 18, 2004
Format: Paperback
As a Mac guy, I've found the "Save As PDF..." button on any Print dialog something I end up using a lot. I was hoping to find a few different (preferrably free) ways to do something similar with my Windows machine I use at work. Hack #39 solved the problem.

The rest of the Hacks were more of a PDF education for me than anything else. I appreciated the numerous explanations, such as Hack #43 Embed and Subset Fonts to your Advantage, which described the need (or not) of embedded fonts in a PDF. I also like the descriptions about how to make your PDFs smaller (Hack #40). I also found the section on publishing interesting.

I used to think the only thing anyone ever did was distribute and read PDFs. This book proved there was much more to PDFs than that.
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