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    Draconi Redfir's Avatar

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    Default Anyone know anything about PDF readers?

    I hope this thread is okay to be here, but i was wondering if anyone could help me out with a bit of a snag i'm in.

    About a month ago i moved onto a new computer, on the old computer, i would use "Adobe Reader X" in order to edit my D&D character sheets using it's "Add text" feature. I briefly tried a more up-to-date version of Adobe, but not only was the layout more focused on being a fancy art show, but it didn't have a visible "Sign / add text" function that would allow me to add text to a PDF. So i moved back to X, and when i moved to the new computer, found a copy of X to use here as well.

    Problem is, the "Add text" function doesn't seem to be here anymore, there's supposed to be a "Sign" tab someone under the circled area, but nothing i can do seems to make it show up. Even under "PDF properties" it says it doesn't have permission to sign, but no matter what i do with the PDF file, even explicit giving it permission to sign and edit, X won't take it, making it look like it's a problem with X itself and not the PDF file.
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    so My question for you guys: Do any of you know how to give an old copy of Reader X permission to sign and edit PDF files? OR failing that, do you know of any non-adobe readers that have a simple, clean layout (Similar to X ideally), and have an easy-to-find function to allow adding text to a PDF? I don't want anything fancy, if the reader is more concerned with looking pretty then being easy to use, then i don't want it.
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    Default Re: Anyone know anything about PDF readers?

    I'm not the greatest expert on PDF's, but I don't think you're actually looking for a 'sign' function? AFAIK, the sign function allows you to put your signature on the file and then locks it from further editing.

    Actually editing a PDF file generally requires a file that has been set up to allow that, with fields indicated to be filled. Are you certain that the PDF you have there is set up to allow for filling in a pdf file?
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    Default Re: Anyone know anything about PDF readers?

    Quote Originally Posted by DeTess View Post
    I'm not the greatest expert on PDF's, but I don't think you're actually looking for a 'sign' function? AFAIK, the sign function allows you to put your signature on the file and then locks it from further editing.
    All i know is that in X, there was a "Sign" tab that had a button under it that read "Add Text", where you could add text to any part of the PDF with just a click.

    Actually editing a PDF file generally requires a file that has been set up to allow that, with fields indicated to be filled. Are you certain that the PDF you have there is set up to allow for filling in a pdf file?
    as far as i know yes. I've jumped through several hoops trying to get this PDF file to have as many permissions as possible, even ones that suggest users have permission to edit it, but X still doesn't acknowledge this. I can only guess it's an issue with reader itself, but i can't figure out how to fix that either.
    Last edited by Draconi Redfir; 2019-11-05 at 08:25 AM.
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    Default Re: Anyone know anything about PDF readers?

    I may be wrong, but can't you open PDF documents and edit them in the likes of Microsoft Word and LibreOffice Writer?

    [EDIT] Yeah, just tested it--I can open a PDF in Word, which converts it into an editable Word document, make changes, and then export it back as a PDF (or leave it as a Word document if I want it to be more easily editable).
    Last edited by factotum; 2019-11-05 at 09:04 AM.

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    Default Re: Anyone know anything about PDF readers?

    looking like that's not going to be an option for me either. i've got OpenOffice, and trying to open a PDF in it just caused it to crash :|

    wait, okay. it did open the doccument... but it gave me 245 pages of nonsense. like (and i quote!)

    %PDF-1.4
    31 0 obj
    58 0 obj
    hpbbd#''b'b $#&# &#<U
    ... So yeah, opening it in open office isn't an option.
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    Default Re: Anyone know anything about PDF readers?

    Yeah, PDF is a text-based format, so that's what it looks like if it's not converted. However, I just tried opening a random PDF I had lying around in LibreOffice 6.1, and it opens in LibreOffice Draw, not Writer, so maybe try that? (And maybe upgrade your OpenOffice if it's an older version).

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    Default Re: Anyone know anything about PDF readers?

    The PDF format is just a container. Adobe doesn't care much what you put in it, images (not just images images, but also an image of the text), actual readable text or something in between. Another program trying to open a pdf will care *a lot* what type of data you get.

    The function in a newer Adobe reader you want is I think called "Fill and Sign". I open Adobe Reader DC (just one of at leat 2 Readers I got) and tested using that option. May be the latest version.

    Yes they are making you jump through hoops because unsurprisingly they want people to sign up for their software plans. So e.g. if you try and pick "Edit pdf" you end up at the Adobe store front page.
    Last edited by snowblizz; 2019-11-06 at 03:27 AM.

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    Default Re: Anyone know anything about PDF readers?

    there are other non-adobe readers out there aren't there? Surely at least one of them lets you add text without a fuss.
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    Default Re: Anyone know anything about PDF readers?

    Quote Originally Posted by Draconi Redfir View Post
    there are other non-adobe readers out there aren't there? Surely at least one of them lets you add text without a fuss.
    The problem is, Adobe allows for "readers" because it helps spread format, which is why you can get office programs to output it. Not sure what Microsoft Edge is capable off (the standard" reader in windows 10 as a default). They don't want competition in the "modify pdf" niche. Maybe there are, maybe there aren't. My experience is a lot of pdf editing capable software wants your money.


    I would suggest getting Adobe Reader DC. It's free and can do the formfilling edits.


    I strongly suspect there's something in the version changes messing about, and that the soruce PDF is maybe not straight up text and just a picture.

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    Default Re: Anyone know anything about PDF readers?

    Quote Originally Posted by Draconi Redfir View Post
    looking like that's not going to be an option for me either. i've got OpenOffice, and trying to open a PDF in it just caused it to crash :|

    wait, okay. it did open the doccument... but it gave me 245 pages of nonsense. like (and i quote!)



    ... So yeah, opening it in open office isn't an option.
    Quote Originally Posted by factotum View Post
    Yeah, PDF is a text-based format, so that's what it looks like if it's not converted. However, I just tried opening a random PDF I had lying around in LibreOffice 6.1, and it opens in LibreOffice Draw, not Writer, so maybe try that? (And maybe upgrade your OpenOffice if it's an older version).
    OpenOffice is the name of an old branch that hasn't been updated since 2010. LibreOffice is the current one. So yea, I'd recommend trying a recent version of LibreOffice.

    Quote Originally Posted by Draconi Redfir View Post
    there are other non-adobe readers out there aren't there? Surely at least one of them lets you add text without a fuss.
    The issue is that PDFs aren't designed to be edited. Adobe's intention when creating the format was that people would create content in another format (say, a Photoshop document) and then convert it to a PDF. The preferred way to edit a PDF is to edit the file that was used to generate the PDF, and then reconvert it into a new PDF. In math, papers are written using LaTeX (stored in a .tex file) and then compiled into PDFs, and it is substantially harder to edit the PDF if you don't have access to the original TeX file.

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    Default Re: Anyone know anything about PDF readers?

    Quote Originally Posted by 137ben View Post
    OpenOffice is the name of an old branch that hasn't been updated since 2010. LibreOffice is the current one. So yea, I'd recommend trying a recent version of LibreOffice.
    Not true, OpenOffice is still under development as part of the Apache Software Foundation's suite--as you can see here, the last version was released a couple of months ago:

    https://blogs.apache.org/OOo/entry/a...penoffice-4-13

    LibreOffice got forked from OpenOffice in 2010 because the maintainers were afraid Oracle would put restrictions on the use or modifications of OpenOffice after their purchase of Sun--as far as I'm aware those fears have not yet come to pass, though.

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    Default Re: Anyone know anything about PDF readers?

    If the character sheet is just a picture were you manually added text on top, then you might as well just open it with GIMP and freely add text wherever you want. This has an additional advantage that all the text boxes can be neatly organised into layers.
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    Default Re: Anyone know anything about PDF readers?

    Quote Originally Posted by 137ben View Post
    The issue is that PDFs aren't designed to be edited. Adobe's intention when creating the format was that people would create content in another format (say, a Photoshop document) and then convert it to a PDF. The preferred way to edit a PDF is to edit the file that was used to generate the PDF, and then reconvert it into a new PDF. In math, papers are written using LaTeX (stored in a .tex file) and then compiled into PDFs, and it is substantially harder to edit the PDF if you don't have access to the original TeX file.
    but they have / had the whole "sign" / "Add text" feature. you can't say they're not designed to have text added to them when there is a feature specifically designed to add text to them.

    granted i still can't access that feature despite the fact that i know it exists and have used it before... ugh.
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    Default Re: Anyone know anything about PDF readers?

    Quote Originally Posted by Draconi Redfir View Post
    but they have / had the whole "sign" / "Add text" feature. you can't say they're not designed to have text added to them when there is a feature specifically designed to add text to them.

    granted i still can't access that feature despite the fact that i know it exists and have used it before... ugh.
    The .pdf format itself is pretty old; introduced in the early 1990's. The whole point of it was as a document storage system that would just work, regardless of what specific computer/OS/reader/whatever you opened with it. Editing came a lot later, and editable .pdf files tend to be a lot worse at the general readability side.
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    Default Re: Anyone know anything about PDF readers?

    I use Okular because it has annotations. These do not change the text but allow you to attach notes to the text.
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    Default Re: Anyone know anything about PDF readers?

    I feel you, Draconi. I've got some pdfs I marked up with notes, or covered over the text with corrections, just added from Acrobat Reader. Later updates prevent me from adding more. I can add "sticky" notes, but it's really not the same thing.
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    Default Re: Anyone know anything about PDF readers?

    Quote Originally Posted by Radar View Post
    If the character sheet is just a picture were you manually added text on top, then you might as well just open it with GIMP and freely add text wherever you want. This has an additional advantage that all the text boxes can be neatly organised into layers.
    if that works then it might help with making new sheets. Not so much with pre-existing ones probably. doubt any paint programs would use the same text boxes that Reader X used, and let me select / move / delete / edit them. could leave a mess without it.

    might have to just suck it up and try the latest adobe reader and hope it has something to let me add / edit text.
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    Default Re: Anyone know anything about PDF readers?

    Quote Originally Posted by Draconi Redfir View Post
    if that works then it might help with making new sheets. Not so much with pre-existing ones probably. doubt any paint programs would use the same text boxes that Reader X used, and let me select / move / delete / edit them. could leave a mess without it.

    might have to just suck it up and try the latest adobe reader and hope it has something to let me add / edit text.
    I did use it for various puproses and it is fairly convenient. For character sheets you would have to organise all the text boxes yourselve first, but then have a ready template that can be reused easily. With existning ones it would be a mess - might as well make a new copy. Still, making Adobe Reader work is the most convenient way.
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    Default Re: Anyone know anything about PDF readers?

    Scribus is a PDF layout app. It may be closer to what you want. It has capacities similar to Adobe Acrobat. I haven't used it for anything as complicated as what you want, so I don't really know if it's a good fit.
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    Default Re: Anyone know anything about PDF readers?

    Quote Originally Posted by Draconi Redfir View Post
    if that works then it might help with making new sheets. Not so much with pre-existing ones probably. doubt any paint programs would use the same text boxes that Reader X used, and let me select / move / delete / edit them. could leave a mess without it.

    might have to just suck it up and try the latest adobe reader and hope it has something to let me add / edit text.
    I've used Inkscape. You import the pdf page, then you can insert a text box, use one of a huge list of fonts, and can scale and move the text however you want. You can put the pdf on the bottom layer and lock it, then create a text layer just above that.
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    Default Re: Anyone know anything about PDF readers?

    Quote Originally Posted by factotum View Post
    Not true, OpenOffice is still under development as part of the Apache Software Foundation's suite--as you can see here, the last version was released a couple of months ago:

    https://blogs.apache.org/OOo/entry/a...penoffice-4-13

    LibreOffice got forked from OpenOffice in 2010 because the maintainers were afraid Oracle would put restrictions on the use or modifications of OpenOffice after their purchase of Sun--as far as I'm aware those fears have not yet come to pass, though.
    Thanks for the correction. I knew that Oracle stopped supporting OpenOffice, but I didn't know that Apache had continued updating it.

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    Default Re: Anyone know anything about PDF readers?

    Quote Originally Posted by Draconi Redfir View Post
    but they have / had the whole "sign" / "Add text" feature. you can't say they're not designed to have text added to them when there is a feature specifically designed to add text to them.

    granted i still can't access that feature despite the fact that i know it exists and have used it before... ugh.
    As has been said, Adobe want your money. They've been pulling this stuff for a loooong time. It was back in 2003 (version 6) that they rebranded their free product from "Acrobat" to "Reader", and a whole bunch of useful editing functions vanished then. (Or rather, they were still available, but only in the now-paid "Acrobat" product.)

    Since then, my perception is that each new release has reduced functionality.

    I've tried unsuccessfully to find a satisfactory free alternative. I'll be interested to hear if anyone has succeeded.
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