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AfriGeneas Genealogy Technology Forum

Eastman Explains Creating PDF files

+) How to Create PDF Files for Little or No Money

Pdflogo I am always amazed at how fast the technology world changes. A few years ago, the only way to create PDF (Portable Document Format) files was to pay $300 for Adobe Acrobat. Indeed, Adobe created a great market for this product when it gave away the reader free of charge and then charged a high price for the matching program that creates PDF files. It reminds me of the story of Gillette making millions by giving away razors free of charge and then making a big profit on the sale of razor blades. For several years, Adobe raked in millions of dollars as the only company that offered a program to create PDF files.

Adobe originally created the PDF format as a means of exchanging finished documents. PDF files avoid all the issues of program and file compatibility when moved from one computer to another. PDF files will always look the same on any receiving computer as they appear on the originating system. In fact, the output will always look the same, even if the file was created on a Macintosh and then later viewed and printed on a Windows system or vice versa. Linux systems and even the handheld MobilePC computers also can faithfully display PDF files.

PDF files have become the de facto method of exchanging documents. Millions of PDF files are available on web sites. PDF is also popular for sending documents via e-mail. Millions of contracts, sales agreements, brochures and even genealogy documents move via PDF files every day.

A few years ago new programs that created PDF files appeared from other suppliers. These early challengers to Adobe Acrobat were awkward to use and did not always make a faithful reproduction of the original document. Fonts and images sometimes were not accurately reproduced. Technology advances quickly, however. Soon, newer programs appeared with each one easier to use and better able to faithfully reproduce the original. Today's PDF creation programs are often easier to use than Adobe Acrobat and yet produce equally good results. Prices range from free to a fraction of Adobe's program.

From a technical viewpoint, the easiest way to create PDF files is to buy a Macintosh computer. :) Macintosh's OS X (pronounced "oh ess ten") includes PDF generation within the operating system. Any program written for Macintosh OS X can create PDF files.

On the other hand, the easiest method from a technical viewpoint is probably not the easiest from a financial view for anyone who has already invested in Windows software. The remainder of this article will focus on PDF solutions for Windows.

18 Dec 2002 :: 14 Nov 2008
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