PDF output options

Tip version: 43.2

Modified date: 14 May 2001

Software versions: Not applicable

A useful output option to use with the Generations software is one of the several software packages which lets you save or "print" to an Adobe Portable Document Format (.pdf) file.

There are several commercial packages and a couple of free packages which you may add to your system to get this capability. Two good web sites for information about the Portable Document Format are the Adobe website (of course) http://www.adobe.com, and the PDFzone website http://www.pdfzone.com, which covers products beyond Adobe's.


Examination of the software packages listed at the PDFzone site yields the following information (as of January 2000). This obviously is subject to rapid change as new products and new versions of existing products are released.

Adobe Acrobat 4.0

The granddaddy package of them all, includes the Acrobat Distiller and PDFwriter, two different means of sending your output to PDF (plus quite a bit more than these), pricey, http://www.pricewatch.com shows prices from about US$215 and up for the full package [You may be able to find the earlier Acrobat v3 around, one place was listed having it for about US$185. You should also check the Adobe website as they have occasionally had special offers of just the PDFwriter program at an inexpensive price, under US$20.]

Niknak 5D PDF

This also works well in my testing, £65 (English pounds) at their website

Zeon (a Taiwanese company) Docucom PDF Driver 4

[Win 95/98 only at present, NT promised] I have not seen this product so don't know how well it works, another user reports that it installs and works without any problems. US$50 at their website, faxed orders

Amyuni Consulting PDF Printer Driver

I have not seen this product so don't know how well it works US$129 for Win 95/98 version US$129 for Win NT version US$189 for Win 3.1/95/95/NT version

Adobe PDFmaker 1.0 for Microsoft Word 97

(Win 95/98/NT) This works reasonably well and is a free download from the Adobe website, and there is also a link at PDFzone

Ray Hayes, an Australia user, pointed out that the free Ghostview program can take a file printed to Postscript and output a .pdf file. When first putting this information to the list I had considered mentioning this, but decided against doing so at that time as there are several steps involved in configuring this route. Using this route to produce a .pdf file requires that you install a Postscript printer driver on your computer.

Use the Add Printer command in the Printers folder and select one of the Postscript printers: Apple, HP, QMS, or another brand.

Configure the printer driver so that the Postscript output is saved to a file. Many of these printer drivers are on your Windows CD-ROM. Other printer drivers are available for download on the web, including Adobe's own very good and flexible AdobePS printer driver (also free).

Get the Ghostview program from one of the sites on the web. One site, mentioned by Ray (there are a number of mirrors of this site), is http://www.cs.wisc.edu/~ghost/aladdin/get550.html Note that this address may change somewhat as continuing updates of the Ghostview package take place. Once the program is installed, then follow the steps:

  1. Print to postscript file
  2. Open the postscript file in Ghostview
  3. Print to a .pdf file.

Thanks to Ray Hayes for leading me to reconsider including the Ghostview option. As he said, once you've used it a few times the process is straightforward.


Once you have the .pdf files, which are reasonably compact, they may be distributed like any other data files - as email attachments, on floppy disks, on CDs, etc.

Adobe has versions of the free Adobe Acrobat Reader for many operating systems: Macintosh, MS-DOS, Windows 3.1, Windows 95/98, Windows NT, Linux. These readers let the users print out copies of the document, should they desire to do so.

Regards, Mike Hobart

Copyright © 1999-2001 Michael A. Hobart, commercial reuse restricted.

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