Posts tagged handy-tools
PortableApps.com: Portable Software/USB Updated 2010-09-22
PortableApps.com allows you to carry your favorite computer programs and all of your bookmarks, settings, email and more with you on a portable device (USB flash drive, iPod, portable hard drive, CD, etc) and use them on any Windows computer.
I remember when I first used PDFCreator, I was doing some freelance web development work. As it happens sometimes, I had a client that was not very tech savvy. I was fortunate that this client could even check email (and even that was stretching it a bit). The PDF format was the one thing he could read and understand, and figure out how to open. In many cases, PDF seems to be the lowest common denominator; it’s easy, cross-platform, and it ensures that anyone viewing the document is looking at the same thing. PDFCreator allowed me to put *anything* into a nice PDF: screenshots, documents, spreadsheets, reports, whatever. It was a life saver then, and it is now.
While some programs offer the ability to convert into a PDF format, or export into PDF, there are many that do not have this capability. With this software, anything that can be printed can be turned into a PDF. In essence, you install the software, and it installs as a PDF printer, so to create a PDF from anything, you just need to print. Its only limitation is that it is specific to Windows OS.
PDFCreator does more than just create PDFs, in fact. The software now includes many other features such as the ability to:
- Encrypt and digitally sign PDFs and protect them from being opened or modified
- Send generated files via email
- Create more than just PDFs: PNG, JPG, TIFF, BMP, PCX, PS, EPS
- AutoSave files to folders and filenames based on tags like Username, Computername, Date, Time etc.
- Merge multiple files into one PDF
The project began in 2002 when Philip Chinery, one of the core devs, needed a useful tool to make PDFs and nothing out there suited his needs. He wrote the software, and in 2003, Frank Heindörfer joined the team. “Since that time,” Philip tells me, “we have been the first free PDF software with a full installer, the first one with PDF security, PDF/A and PDF/X support, digital signatures and a COM automation interface to control the software.”
Over the years, the team has had to work through many technical obstacles, “like finding all relevant parts to do a proper printer driver installation or getting the permissions right with the new Windows Vista permission structure,” says Philip. “The latter has caused us to take nearly one year to fully support Vista after it has been released. We finally had to tweak the permissions of the SYSTEM account which other printer drivers as the Xerox drivers do as well, but we are not fully happy with that so far.”
Philip and Frank have learned a lot through their work with PDFCreator. They have a great time working on something they believe in, and they enjoy working on the team together, which is very important for any project, but especially crucial in open source.
Wise words of advice for others working in or just starting out in open source: “Take a point where you want to be better than everyone else and try to achieve that. It is better to have a good program with few features than a bad program with many features. And, use a programming language that will be available for some time.”
The team has big plans for PDFCreator, including rewriting the entire app in C# (it is currently written in VB6.) “We are currently having a kind of prototype application and are working on side aspects as a good translation system and Setting Storage. It is quite likely that they will become available separately to help other developers.”
They have also decided to start their own company, pdfforge GbR, to continue to improve PDFCreator, while offering custom development.
PDFCreator is one of the top 10 projects on SourceForge.net of all time, and there is a reason for that. It’s a great tool, it’s super simple to use and install, and the team works very well together. If you are using Windows, this should definitely be in your toolbox.
For more information on PDFCreator: http://pdfforge.org
To download PDFCreator: https://sourceforge.net/projects/pdfcreator
If you would like to donate to this project: http://www.pdfforge.org/donations