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Free PDF

Links to Free Methods and
Freeware Applications for Creating
PDF Documents in Windows

This article is translated to Serbo-Croatian language by Jovana Milutinovich from WebHostingGeeks.com

There are many free ways to create PDF documents for free. PDFs are wonderful fixed-layout documents but sometimes it is necessary to convert PDF to excel  or to word for practical applications.  The drawbacks fall into several camps. There are the free Web services from Adobe and others that require you to send them the document which their automated programs convert and then send back. The drawbacks are: they are limited to the number of documents you can convert under one registration, or the number of document you can convert per day, or the output comes back with a watermarked advertising of their service on all the pages (you can remove this). Next are the actual freestanding application with their drawbacks too. These free applications are often limited by the type of document you can convert to PDF, such as simple text, or HTML or are limited to non-business use. Finally there are the "printer" PDF creators.  Some of these are nagware in that you have to click through a screen asking you to register for a small fee, each time you use the program.  There are however "printer" PDF creators which once they are set up, allow you to print from any program, producing a PDF document, even in full color. The drawback here is there is some difficulty in setting these up, but don't despair, there are fully documented instructions with screenshots on how to do this.. One final caveat, apparently PDF files can be very complex, with bookmarks, hyperlinks etc. There are many issues involved with PDF creation for professional use particularly in the Graphics and Printing Industries which I don't pretend to understand. The PDF files created with the methods below are for simple PDF files not for professional manuals and the like. You'll have to pay for the pro programs if you want to do anything fancy. I will in most cases be pasting in the blurbs from the Web sites for all the products, following that with my own comments in Italics.

Web Services

http://createpdf.adobe.com/index.pl/?BP=IE - Create Adobe® PDF Online is a Web-hosted service that lets you convert a variety of documents into Adobe PDF files that anyone can view using the free Adobe Acrobat® Reader?. Supported formats include Microsoft® Office files, graphics formats, Web pages, and other file types. Use Paper Capture to create searchable PDF files from scanned paper documents. You can create the first five copies for free.

http://www.gobcl.com/what_is.htm - goBCL® provides you with quick and free document conversion into PDF and HTML formats. As a web-based server solution, goBCL allows you to convert documents automatically - from your PC or your Mac, from your home or your office...from anywhere in the world! goBCL lets you submit documents from your web browser. goBCL then processes your document and, within minutes, generates and emails you an accurate PDF or HTML (complete with JPEG files) representation of your document. The maximum size that you can upload is 500K per file.. - Limits your documents to 500 KB.

http://www.neevia.com/solutions.htm#sol2 - Neevia Document Converter eXPress is a FREE web-based service that lets you convert your business documents into Adobe Portable Document Format (PDF). Adobe PDF solves many common file-sharing problems, from preserving the look-and-feel of the original document to allowing anyone, on any platform, to view, navigate, and print documents using the free Adobe® Acrobat® Reader®. Supported formats include Microsoft® Office files, graphics formats, and other document formats. - Limits your documents to 500 KB.

http://64.39.14.230/abcpdf/ - Using the links below you can add text, images and other graphics to your very own PDF document. You can choose to view the document in a browser window or download it to your computer for viewing. The actual document itself is dynamically generated and sent direct to your web browser - there are no files saved anywhere. In this example web site we limit the document to a single page to make it easy to see the changes you're making. However if you want to create multi-page documents it's only a few more lines of code!

http://www.fastpdf.com/receive.php - This site puts an advertising watermark on each page if you do it for free.

http://www.pdfconvert.ch/index.asp?lang=e - NetPower PDFconvert is the on-line solution to convert Microsoft® Office (Word, Excel, PowerPoint®) documents, Web pages, images, ... into Adobe® PDF files. Notice: * This service is currently free of charge. Converted documents may include our watermark.* Adobe Acrobat Reader (available free of charge) enables one to read the documents thus produced.* The size of the file to convert shouldn't exceed 15 Mb or 5 minutes in processing time.- This site may put a watermark on the resulting file.

http://www.teamprinting.com/toolbox.asp - Convert your documents online to Adobe PDF files that anyone, anywhere can view and print. Supports more than 280 formats! - This site limits you to one conversion per day.

http://www.pdfhammer.com/help.html - great simple online file merger, page rearranger and page deleter of PDF files.

Actual Applications

http://www.pdfforge.org/products/pdfcreator - the best free pdf printer in my book. Can also print any file to jpg and other standard image types including PS. It may install Ghost Script (see the next section).

http://perso.wanadoo.fr/fricotin/index.htm - This is a French Tool called MiniPDF 2.03. It may come out in an English version soon. It probably has limited functionality.

http://www.easysw.com/htmldoc/ - Converts HTML files to PDF or PostScript. Generates a table-of-contents for books. Generates indexed HTML files. Generates files on-the-fly for web applications, from the command- line for batch jobs, or from a GUI for interactive work. Runs on most UNIX/Linux and Windows operating systems. Provides a command-line interface for batch and WWW applications. Provides a graphical interface for interactive work.  - Limited version is for free.

http://www.e-press.com/easy_office_premium.html - Free extensive Office suite for personal use and is nagware. Can save its word processor and spreadsheet files to PDF. Commercial license and personal registration is very cheap.

http://www.fytek.com/text2pdf.html - FyTek's Text to PDF Converter does more than just convert plain text. You can include HTML-like tags to add in images, change font size or color, underline and highlight text, and more.   If you want even more features, consider registering your copy which allows you to embed fonts, create bookmarks and use a wider variety of image types. - Free version is limited to 50 pages and only converts text.

http://www.visagesoft.com/easypdf/ - Easy PDF is a specialized WYSIWYG environment for quickly and easily creating Adobe Portable Document Format (PDF) documents. Easy PDF provides all the power to create sophisticated PDF documents, and apply links/hypertext on the final document. - This is Word processor of sorts and though limited is more than a Notepad or WordPad replacement, pretty good.

http://www.dreamscape.it/Eng/AcroPAD.htm - AcroPAD is a program very similar to Notepad; the main differences are: the toolbar with the buttons to open/save etc. the files, the ability to open RTF files (e.g. from WinWord), and in particular the "Save as PDF" Menu!  AcroPAD allows end users to copy text from their documents in MSWord or Excel and paste inside itself; then they can export everything in PDF, without the need for Adobe Acrobat (tm). There isn't an installation program; just copy the 600Kbytes executable and everything works! The program is completely Freeware and is just an experiment to let you see what can be done with the component PDFREPORT - exporting the entire text is a matter of just a single command: TEXTOUT(). - WordPad replacement that save in PDF.

http://www.websupergoo.com/abcpdf-1.htm - ABCpdf gets up close and personal! Because it doesn't use any print drivers and goes Direct to PDF? it's incredibly fast.  Because it's Fully Both Threaded you can use it flexibly from within ASP, VB and under COM+, MTS or .NET. ABCpdf is simple yet powerful. It's designed so you can get up to speed and productive within ten minutes. Yet if you want fine low-level control you can have that too with ABCpdf.  - This is free if put a link to their Website on yours, they approve and send you a license key. I haven't tried it yet.

http://www.simtel.net/pub/pd/59506.html - Software that converts text documents (.txt) to PDF Files, it also adds pages and allows you to enter information for the file like author, copyright etc.

Printer Methods

All these methods, except for the last, involve the use of Ghostscipt, and GSView and sometimes Redmon.  All three programs use either the GNU public license or the Aladdin Free Public License. This means they are free to download and use even in business. There are strictures which I don't quite yet understand about selling the software or a derivative for money.
http://www.cs.wisc.edu/~ghost/ - this is the Gnu version of Ghostscript, and works well with all the methods outlined below. Ghostscript is a command line program that among other things, converts Postscript files to PDF files. If you install a "dummy" Postscript printer on your Windows machine, and tell it to print to file, it will produce a PostScript or PS file. If you put in the right commands into the command line of the program it will convert it to a PDF file. The commands however are very complicated. There is a solution though, and GSView provides. See the next link.

http://www.cs.wisc.edu/~ghost/gsview/index.htm - GSView is a PDF viewer like Acrobat Reader, but more. It is a Windows GUI interface for Ghostscript, and therefore, with a couple clicks, allows you to convert a PS file to a PDF file. The whole business of setting the two up and installing the PostScript printer, is explained in the next link.

http://student.umpi.maine.edu/~edwardp/documentation/
pdf_create/pdf_create.html- Instructions for using a PostScript printer, Ghostscript and GSView to create a PDF file.

http://kenchiro.tripod.com/howtoPDF.html - a perhaps more accessible set of instructions of the above.

http://www.et.dtu.dk/Software/GhostWord/Index.html - GhostWord is an interface for the GhostScript package, which enables you to create PDF documents from Microsoft Word, Excel or PowerPoint documents. GhostWord installs itself in Word, Excel and PowerPoint, and you convert the documents by simply clicking an icon. GhostWord is freeware. You may freely copy and use it without any charge.

http://home.hccnet.nl/s.vd.palen/ - FreeDist is a freeware distiller (in combination with Ghostscript). It can convert postscript files that are placed in a "watched folder", automatically to PDF. It can also compose multiple postscript or PDF files to one PDF in the order you like. FreeDist can cope with clean postscript files with the extension eps, ps, plt and prn. - This involves slightly more automation. You needn't open GSView, all you have to do is move your newly created PostScript files to a predetermined folder.

Note: the next sets of printer methods involve the use of Redmon.  These are a little difficult to set up, and I will provide a link later to a more general set of instructions for installing the first program. However, once these are set up, there is no intermediate step of opening up GSView to convert the PS document. You simply print to your PostScript dummy printer and the PDF files are created. Redmon produces a dummy printer port for the dummy printer, and then redirects the output into Ghostscript, with the right parameters, and voila, you have a PDF file. You can even rename your printer to "PDF Creator".

http://www.cs.wisc.edu/~ghost/redmon/index.htm - Redmon can be downloaded here.

http://www.webxd.com/zipguy/freepdf.htm - Free PDF is a utility which allows you to create PDF's just by printing to a "Create PDF" printer, from any Windows 9x/ME application FOR FREE! Free PDF bridges between RedMon (owned by Ghostgum Software Pty Ltd) and Aladdin Ghostscript (owned by Aladdin Enterprises), thus simplifying the PDF creation process, providing useful options and making it easy to use them. Configuration of the programs requires comprehension and some effort on your part. - Don't be put off by the advertising and the complexity of setup, this is a good program. This is the program that I hope in the future to set up a more generalized set of instructions. Suffice it to say that despite what either set of instructions might seem to say here, you can use the GNU version of Ghostscript, just be sure to point the pdfConverter to the bin/gswin32c.exe, which under normal installation, should be located under the C:/gs/gs[your version number here]/ folder. 

http://www.mast-webdesign.de/ - PDF Ghostscript tool is a powerful interface for RedMon and Ghostscript - the free Postscript and PDF interpreter. RedMon redirects the printer output to an external program and Ghostscript can convert PostScript files to PDF files. PDF Ghostscript tool is receives the printer data from RedMon and creates PDF files with Ghostscript. With PDF Ghostscript tool you can create PDF files easy and free! - This is a similar tool from Germany, and may be even better, and easier to set up. There are English instructions. Be sure to use a color PS printer driver like the Tektronix one mentioned in the instructions above. The Adobe printer driver here, should work in color too.

http://home.hccnet.nl/s.vd.palen/ - This is a third one, with a wild interface that is slightly difficult to figure out (the three white circles in the upper left hand corner are not decoration, but are the small buttons he is talking about). This program also lets you append several PS files (thus anything printed to your dummy PS printer from even different programs) to one PDF file.

http://site4.pdf995.com/download.html - Pdf995 is the fast, affordable way to create professional-quality documents in the popular PDF file format. Its easy-to-use interface allows you to create PDF files by simply selecting the "Print" command from any application, creating documents which can be viewed on any computer with a PDF viewer. Pdf995 supports advanced features such as bookmarks, links, and automatically attaching a PDF to an email message for sending. Pdf995 is free, fully featured software. It does not expire, and it does not limit or mark your PDF documents in any way. The download is free. Once on your computer, just double-click the install file and you're ready to start creating professional-quality PDF files the fast affordable way. - This is very nice and easy to use, except for the nagware element.  It does not use Ghostscript, GSView or Redmon.

Have fun! If you have any questions or comments, please write me at socrtwo@s2services.com.

This article is translated to Serbo-Croatian language by Jovana Milutinovich from WebHostingGeeks.com