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PDF Hacks: 100 Industrial-Strength Tips & Tools 1st Edition
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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.
Top Customer Reviews
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.Read more ›
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!
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.
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.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
This works, a rather large learning curve, but worth the effort.Published 3 months ago by Ernest Abell
I didn't realize this was printed in 2004, Acrobat has come a long way in 10 years.Look for a more current version.Published on December 13, 2013 by FIREd up
In short: I've written software that generates and manipulates PDF for several years now, and this book still had more than a few things to teach me. Read morePublished on October 19, 2010 by D.F.
This book has a lot of great, helpful information, but be aware that it stops at Acrobat 6. I don't think any of the reviews here mentioned that.Published on November 17, 2009 by John A. Kilpatrick
This book is a god-send for those of us who have to struggle with the often frustrating world of PDF documents on our computers. Read morePublished on June 8, 2007 by K. Poetzsch
There are several categories of hack in this book; two of them are "saving money" (finding ways to work with PDF's outside of Acrobat) and PDF in web design--using CGI scripting to... Read morePublished on February 10, 2007 by Andrew
The title is completely misleading.
I purchased this book and software from Broderbund, after reading the reviews posted here at Amazon, believing the book and software... Read more