Saturday, September 24, 2005

Bypassing Acrobat Bypassing Acrobat

Adobe has a pretty good scam going on. It gives away its Acrobat Reader, and sells, for a fair amount, its Acrobat, which is used to make .pdf files. Because of this, .pdf has become a well established file standard - including being heavily used by the USPTO.

It is possible to create .pdf files that have blanks that can be filled in with Acrobat Reader, but you can't save the input values. And you can't annotate non-fillable forms. What to do, without buying the entire Acrobat suite?

Well, I found one solution. I import the Acrobat file into Word as a picture. I position it in the background. I then use MSFT Draw to add text on top of it. It turns out that you have to make everything relative to the page boundries (and set margins to zero). Nevertheless, you can then print out the form with blanks filled out.

Unfortunately, Acrobat Reader exports its images at 75%. This means that you have to expand them by a factor of 1.333%, and that, unfortunately, means that the form itself is somewhat fuzzy.

The answer to that problem is to print the form first in Acrobat Reader. Then, you delete the form from Word and print on top of the form you just printed in Acrobat Reader. You can "undo" for saving everything. It worked so perfectly that small boxes I filled out hit exactly.

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