Flexible Acrobat PDF Automation

The PDF file format has changed printing workflows over the years, and workflows also change as the flow of data changes. Too much of our time is spent finding the best way to get new files through our workflow.

The Acrobat elements in FullSWITCH and PowerSWITCH give you the tools to automate many of the tasks you are currently performing on PDF files. Both programs have a built-in configurator available that supports Adobe Acrobat Professional 7 and 8.

The configurator allows you to:

  • Open different file types while converting them to PDF
  • Merge incoming PDF files into one file, based on file-count or file name
  • Merge a folder of PDF files into one file
  • Split multi-page PDF files into pages or sections
  • Print out PDF files using preconfigured options
  • Run an Acrobat JavaScript on PDF files
  • Save PDF files as another file type, such as EPS, PS, TIFF, etc.

FullSWITCH and PowerSWITCH both give you the ability to use Javascript to perform tasks in Adobe Acrobat Professional 7 and 8. The bonus here is that Gradual Software has provided Javascript commands that allow you to plug in your own custom scripts into a SWITCH flow.

For example, each script can have arguments that pass information from the outside flow to your script. You can easily pick up file names, folder names, and connection paths for use in your script without having to be an expert scripter.

I reuse small scripts to insert pages at the end of PDF files, and to add time stamps or watermarks. I have found that the Watermark feature in Acrobat is easy to script and I use it to stamp all pages with my own custom PDF that controls bleed on the inside and applies a slug and my own marks. Since SWITCH controls is opening and saving my PDF file, the only Javascript needed is:

$doc.addWatermarkFromFile(“Macintosh HD:MyMarks.pdf”);

Since both FullSWITCH and PowerSWITCH (you can use this trick in LightSWITCH as well) are Flow Specialists, we can use them to send files to other places on our server:

The Preflight features of Acrobat can be used to ensure that files are perfect. Open the Preflight Window and either choose a profile you would like to run or create a new one customized for your setup. It is more fun to make your own, and you can insert anything from catching an overprinting white to making sure your black text doesn’t knock out. Add the standard check for catching low-resolution images, ensuring fonts are embedded, and any other things you may find that usually cause you trouble. Save your profile and it can be added to a Preflight Droplet.

In the Preflight window, select your profile. Under options, select “Create Preflight Droplet”. You can choose all the options you want to have, it will even generate a report for you. Save this somewhere safe. Here is the brilliant part that interfaces the SWITCH application to the rest of your Server. Make a small Automator Applescript that launches the droplet:

on run {input, parameters}

tell application “Finder”

open “Macintosh HD:MyPreflightDroplet.app”

end tell

return input

end run

In Automator, select “save as plug-in—for folder actions”. Attach this saved item to a folder and you can have your workflow software send your saved PDF files to be checked by the preflight droplet.

You must change your workflow as often as your data changes. If you keep the scripting simple and let the software do all the work, you can easily develop new ways to improve your file processing. Change is not that difficult when you have the tools at hand that workflow software provides.

Trial versions of FullSWITCH and PowerSWITCH are available on the Gradual Software website: www.gradual.com

Automator software is available on any Mac running the Tiger version of Mac OS and the software for writing Javascripts (Extendscript Toolkit) comes with your Adobe CS2 or CS3 installation.