View Full Version : Creating "Tagged PDF" for small screens


starrigger
09-23-2008, 02:24 PM
I know there's a long thread here on hacking existing PDFs to display on small screens. But when I was creating my own book files to offer for download (http://www.starrigger.net/Downloads.htm), I found information about creating PDFs that would reflow text for easy viewing on handheld devices. With much difficulty, I was able to create these files of my own books, and I now offer two PDF versions for download--one that looks better on a big screen (which I call PDF1), and one that reflows to a small screen (which I call PDF2). I find that, despite the fact that my books are available in a variety of ebook formats, the PDF files are by far the most downloaded. So, the demand is there for PDF for download.

Since I'm trying to send other writers to this forum for help with their conversions, I thought it would be good if information about creating tagged PDF files were here.

I'm hoping that someone can offer a simpler method than I used.

Here's what I did: I posted a plea for help to my town's email list, and someone with Adobe Acrobat came to my aid (or tried to). She created numerous tagged files for me, none of which would reflow on my PDA. Finally, she got one that worked, but the file size was large (5MB).

Then I remembered that I have Adobe Framemaker on my computer from a past freelance job, and I set about lashing it into creating my PDF. It worked, in the end, but it was a brutal battle. It involved guessing wildly at many settings. But the crucial ones seemed to be:


Choosing Acrobat Distiller as printer
Checking "Generate Acrobat Data" in the printer setup screen
Clicking PDF Setup, and under Tags, checking Generate Tagged PDF
On the same screen, making sure that all styles that I used in my text were included under "Include Paragraphs"
Under the Bookmarks tab, checking Generate PDF Bookmarks and Articles: Thread by Text Frame" (I'm still not sure if these made a difference)


Then I printed to a .ps (postscript) file -- this took a while, and if it went fast, I knew it wasn't working. Then I doubleclicked that file, and Acrobat Distiller kicked in and turned it into a tagged PDF file.

Formatting was a trial, too. Blank line space got omitted, unless I made sure there was a space in the line.

Each file took many tries before I got a reasonably satisfactory result. But it makes a huge difference in the readability of the PDF.

I just tried reading Tor's PDF (from their free download program) of my Battlestar Galactica novelization, and found that it does not reflow on my PDA. So it's not tagged.

Has anyone found a less onerous way of creating tagged PDF that I could offer to other writers who don't happen to have Framemaker lying around?

DaleDe
09-23-2008, 04:53 PM
I build tagged PDF's using Framemaker and do not find them as difficult to do as you seem to but I am glad that you got it working. They really are excellent tagged documents with very good intelligence.

Acrobat pro can add tagging to documents after the fact and it usually does a pretty good job. It does better if it has the source.

For free, if you have a PDA that uses ActiveSync on XP (Sorry ActiveSync is not supported on Vista) you can just drag a PDF to the device window. It will be automatically tagged as part of the process. Dragging it back will give you a distributable tagged document. This tagging isn't quite a smart at the two earlier methods but workable.

For more on tagging see the PDF article in the wiki. Note, by the way, that a few PDF readers such as Digital Editions do not need pretagged documents in order to reflow them.

Dale

starrigger
09-23-2008, 05:04 PM
For free, if you have a PDA that uses ActiveSync on XP (Sorry ActiveSync is not supported on Vista) you can just drag a PDF to the device window. It will be automatically tagged as part of the process. Dragging it back will give you a distributable tagged document.

Unfortunately, this only seems to work on later versions of ActiveSync, which only work on later versions of PocketPC operating system. I had read that and tried to update my ActiveSync for my older PDA, but it was no-go.

DaleDe
09-23-2008, 05:10 PM
I use the latest activesync 4.5 on a Jornada 720. How old is your machine? (I also have a Pocket PC 2002 upgraded to 2003, and a 2003SE machine and it works on all of them). I haven't actually tried tagging a file on my Jornada but activesync works.

Dale

starrigger
09-24-2008, 02:25 AM
I use the latest activesync 4.5 on a Jornada 720. How old is your machine? (I also have a Pocket PC 2002 upgraded to 2003, and a 2003SE machine and it works on all of them). I haven't actually tried tagging a file on my Jornada but activesync works.

Dale

ActiveSync works for me, it just doesn't tag the PDFs. I have a Cassiopeia EM-500 with Windows CE 3.0, and ActivSync 3.8.

I'm hazy on the details now, but I ran a search on the question and found that it required an updating of something--I think it was ActiveSync itself--to enable the tagging. But when I tried doing that, I had an incompatible system. I think it was the Windows CE that was too old. Anyway, the instructions were to enable the tagging somewhere in the options for ActiveSync; but in my case, there was no such option. I could tell from other comments on the page I was reading that I was not the only one with such a problem.

I was corresponding with another author today who had trouble even viewing my tagged PDF on her Treo. But she was using a different PDF reader, not Adobe.

DDHarriman
09-24-2008, 11:20 AM
Hi

For the Pdf’s to be tagged using activesync you will have to install acrobat for the pocketpc (in your case):
http://www.adobe.com/products/acrobat/readstep2_allversions.html

And if I remember well, it installs also a component that works with activesync and “tag’s” text Pdf’s when you copy them to the device.

A much better way, I think, is to use OpenOffice 2.41 (http://www.openoffice.org) and export from write to Pdf your formatted work. It will “tag” your files perfectly on being used with a small device.

If you do not want to install it in your machine, you can use the portable version and run it from a USB drive in any windows machine, without it installing anything.
You can get this version, and other outstanding free software from:
http://portableapps.com

Best regards,

starrigger
09-24-2008, 11:33 AM
For the Pdf’s to be tagged using activesync you will have to install acrobat for the pocketpc (in your case):
http://www.adobe.com/products/acrobat/readstep2_allversions.html

And if I remember well, it installs also a component that works with activesync and “tag’s” text Pdf’s when you copy them to the device.


Ah--that's what it was! I tried to update the Adobe on my Pocket PC, but it said my older version of Windows CE was not supported. That's why I couldn't get tagging via ActiveSync.


A much better way, I think, is to use OpenOffice 2.41 (http://www.openoffice.org) and export from write to Pdf your formatted work. It will “tag” your files perfectly on being used with a small device.

If you do not want to install it in your machine, you can use the portable version and run it from a USB drive in any windows machine, without it installing anything.
You can get this version, and other outstanding free software from:
http://portableapps.com


My previous experience trying OpenOffice was less than wonderful. But if I can open a Word doc in it and export it to tagged PDF, then I'm willing to give it a try. Heaven knows I don't like the method I'm using now.

I'll check out that portable version. Thanks!

DDHarriman
09-24-2008, 12:19 PM
Hi

Version 2.41 of OpenOffice (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/OpenOffice.org) deals perfectly well with Pdf’s - it’s not a program I use normally, just testing it today for a class in Pdf/A I will be teaching Friday, and I’m quite pleased with the results… in my case it creates Pdf/A-1 files with zero errors when checking with Acrobat preflight option.

Wish you success,

starrigger
09-24-2008, 01:25 PM
Hi

Version 2.41 of OpenOffice (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/OpenOffice.org) deals perfectly well with Pdf’s - it’s not a program I use normally, just testing it today for a class in Pdf/A I will be teaching Friday, and I’m quite pleased with the results… in my case it creates Pdf/A-1 files with zero errors when checking with Acrobat preflight option.

Wish you success,

Let's see, I understood "deals perfectly well" and "teaching Friday" and "pleased with the results." But you left me in the dust with Pdf/A, not to mention Pdf/A-1, and definitely preflight option. (Is that anything like preflighting an airplane? I know how to do that.)

I am installing OO portable on a thumb drive, as we speak.

DDHarriman
09-24-2008, 02:03 PM
I’m sorry to mixture things.

Pdf/A is the ISO 19005-1:2005 standard, also known as format for the long-term archiving of electronic documents.
It’s a subset of the “general” Pdf format. And in this moment it’s in the 1 version, more precisely there are 2 sub-versions, Pdf/A-1a (the most restrictive) and Pdf/A-1b (the more “relaxed” version).
You can have more info here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/PDF/A.

Preflight is an option in Adobe Acrobat Creator where one can check if a file complies with a certain Pdf version (besides Pdf/A there are other subsets, like Pdf/X, etc…).

Pdf/A is very important to Archivists and Record Managers all over the world, as it can, and we (information professionals) are fighting to make it be, the “de facto” standard for migrating administrative and business documents (analogical and digital) and Archive them for the future.

DaleDe
09-24-2008, 02:07 PM
It is great to know that OO 2.4.1 will tag PDF files.

If you need a PDF viewer for older PDAs try http://www.hpcfactor.com/. They have a modified version that will likely work. It works on my Jornada 720. See the Palmtop wiki entry for more tricks.

Dale

starrigger
09-24-2008, 04:59 PM
My, installing software that size on a thumb drive takes a long time!

Anyway, I got Open Office (portable) up and running. I opened my source, a Word doc, and then saved it to a Tagged PDF file. It was quick, it was slick, it had only one important decision to make (check "Tagged PDF"), and it gave a file that looked great in desktop Adobe Reader. Smaller file size than the one I made with Framemaker, too.

Just one problem -- it looks like crap on my PDA. It breaks lines in the middle of words, gives very short lines in some places, and correct lines in others. The book title, in large font, breaks in the middle of words. At least as viewed in Adobe 1.0 for Pocket PC, it is completely unusable.

I'm not sure where to go from here.

Keeping in mind here that my objective is not to solve my own reading problem, which is a non-issue, but to offer other writers some guidance on making their PDF files

starrigger
09-24-2008, 05:33 PM
Just to see if there would be any difference, I installed the desktop Open Office, and tried it again. This time I carefully unchecked all options on the PDF screen except "Tagged PDF." Same result. Unusable on my PDA.

Maybe a newer Adobe Reader or another viewer on my PDA would make a difference. But that's not much of a help if you're trying to create a file that anyone can view on their device.

Framemaker is doing something different, and something better, than OO.

Bummer.

DDHarriman
09-24-2008, 06:07 PM
Hi again

Well it looks you are making progress, even if not in the direction you would like.

You should note that today use in pocketpcs is the version 2 and not the version 1, even if it’s from 2002!

Very few people have pocketpcs version less then 2003 and mainly what one uses is windows mobile versions 5 and 6.

It can happen that the files look much better in these devices with Acrobat 2, then what you are getting with version 1.

If you want an example, what I get normally is something very similar to what you can see in Adobes site (left image):
http://www.adobe.com/products/acrobat/readerforppc.html

And when I enlarge the font, the text just reflows nicely.

If you want I can test in my 2 pocketpcs, 2003 and windows mobile 5, with one of your files and try to get back to you.

Best regards,

DaleDe
09-24-2008, 07:04 PM
You need to load the Adobe Reader from the site I referenced and see if ActiveSync will convert your files. It is Reader version 2 by the way.

DaleDe
09-24-2008, 07:10 PM
By the way, in Framemaker there is an option to compress the tags. Be sure this is not checked or some programs will have problems reading your files. As I recall tags were compressed by default.

starrigger
09-24-2008, 10:08 PM
You need to load the Adobe Reader from the site I referenced and see if ActiveSync will convert your files. It is Reader version 2 by the way.

No, my point earlier was that Reader 2.0 and my version of Win CE are not compatible. At least, that was the result when I tried, some weeks back.

However, it's worth passing on the information to other writers that if they have PDF files that need tagging and they do have the later version of Reader, they can use that as a converter, then transfer the files back if they want to upload them to their website.

starrigger
09-24-2008, 10:10 PM
By the way, in Framemaker there is an option to compress the tags. Be sure this is not checked or some programs will have problems reading your files. As I recall tags were compressed by default.

I don't recall seeing that option. But my version of Framemaker is at least five years old, and probably more.

What seemed to make or break the Framemaker tagging was making sure that any styles I used in the doc were in the "include" column, somewhere in that maze of options.

starrigger
09-24-2008, 10:18 PM
I seem to be answering in reverse order here...


It can happen that the files look much better in these devices with Acrobat 2, then what you are getting with version 1.

That may be so. But I think there's often an assumption that "most people" are using up to date hardware and software, when in fact I'll bet there are a lot of people who aren't. Especially folks who aren't really into all this, and may just be taking a flyer with their old gear to see if they can read a book on their PDA.


If you want an example, what I get normally is something very similar to what you can see in Adobes site (left image):
http://www.adobe.com/products/acrobat/readerforppc.html


That's pretty much what I see in Reader 1.0. (With properly tagged files, that is.)


If you want I can test in my 2 pocketpcs, 2003 and windows mobile 5, with one of your files and try to get back to you.


That might be a useful experiment. Do you want to PM me your email address? Thanks.

Jellby
09-25-2008, 05:04 AM
Are you creating large-size (A4 or letter) documents and expecting small-screen (PDAs or eBook readers) devices to reformat the text?

Why don't you do it the other way? Create a small-size PDF and let the computer PDF reader reformat it if needed/desired.

starrigger
09-25-2008, 01:12 PM
Are you creating large-size (A4 or letter) documents and expecting small-screen (PDAs or eBook readers) devices to reformat the text?

Why don't you do it the other way? Create a small-size PDF and let the computer PDF reader reformat it if needed/desired.

If the file is tagged to allow the reader to reformat the text, it doesn't matter what size page it's starting from. If you go to my downloads (http://www.starrigger.net/Downloads.htm) page and download a copy of Neptune Crossing in what I call PDF2 (http://www.starrigger.net/Downloads/PDF/Neptune%20Crossing%20-%20PDA.pdf) (okay, you can just click the link here), you'll get a book that displays full-size on your computer. Put it on your PDA, and it'll reflow down to your desired screen size, at your desired font size. (Though vertical blank space may get squished.)

If you download the one I call PDF1 (http://www.starrigger.net/Downloads/PDF/Neptune%20Crossing.pdf), you'll get a file that looks nicer on the full-sized computer, and will resize nicely on the computer--but if you copy it to a PDA, it won't reflow. That is, unless you have a newer PDA system than mine, which I understand can do the necessary tagging. (It would be great if someone could test that for me and report back.)

Actually, I have no idea what the effect of all this is on other kinds of ebook readers, such as the e-ink devices. I'd be grateful if someone could test those files on other PDF-reading devices and let me know what they find.

DaleDe
09-25-2008, 01:28 PM
No, my point earlier was that Reader 2.0 and my version of Win CE are not compatible. At least, that was the result when I tried, some weeks back.

However, it's worth passing on the information to other writers that if they have PDF files that need tagging and they do have the later version of Reader, they can use that as a converter, then transfer the files back if they want to upload them to their website.

The whole point was that the version two software was ported to devices that are not identified as compatible with the standard ported version. I have it running on a Jornada 720 which is certainly not standard. You need to try this for yourself, not just dismiss it because the Adobe site said so.

Dale

starrigger
09-25-2008, 01:48 PM
I did try it. I'm reporting what the installation effort told me.

I suppose I could try it again, but I'm not optimistic.

DaleDe
09-25-2008, 02:00 PM
I did try it. I'm reporting what the installation effort told me.

I suppose I could try it again, but I'm not optimistic.

You tried this one? http://www.hpcfactor.com/support/cesd/s/0090.asp

There is also a list here: http://www.hpcfactor.com/downloads/

Dale

starrigger
09-25-2008, 02:54 PM
You tried this one? http://www.hpcfactor.com/support/cesd/s/0090.asp

There is also a list here: http://www.hpcfactor.com/downloads/

Dale

Ah--I didn't understand that people had hacked (tweaked?) Reader for installation on older systems. I have downloaded their version. But when I unpacked the .CAB file, I found nothing to click on--no exe or com file. So I don't know where to go from here.

DDHarriman
09-25-2008, 03:08 PM
If it's a CAB file, you copy it into a folder inside your pocketpc and double click on it with your stylus.
If all goes well, the file just auto-installs.

I have sent you a PM early in the day (my early of course).

starrigger
09-25-2008, 03:24 PM
If it's a CAB file, you copy it into a folder inside your pocketpc and double click on it with your stylus.
If all goes well, the file just auto-installs.

I have sent you a PM early in the day (my early of course).

Ahhh...

Got your PM and have emailed you two PDF files. Thanks.

DDHarriman
09-25-2008, 05:09 PM
Just sent you by email the results.

Best,

starrigger
09-25-2008, 05:11 PM
If it's a CAB file, you copy it into a folder inside your pocketpc and double click on it with your stylus.
If all goes well, the file just auto-installs.


No go. "File cannot be installed on a device of this type."

DDHarriman
09-25-2008, 05:45 PM
I'm sorry, then I can not help with that, maybe DaleDe can elaborate?

DaleDe
09-25-2008, 08:40 PM
Sorry, then I guess it won't work. Was there only one CAB file? If so you will need to copy the correct one. I don't remember. Check some of the other ones in the list of the second link. Something should work.

Dale