Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Acrobat -- Create an Intelligent Mail Barcode Field

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The United States Postal Service (USPS) developed a type of barcode it uses to easily identify addresses in the US, called Intelligent Mail Barcode (or IMB). This barcode symbology is composed out of 65 vertical bars, based on a set of 31 (or possibly less) digits, which represent the Barcode identifier, Service type identifier, Mailer ID, Sequence number and finally the Delivery point ZIP code.

This barcode format is very useful when printing shipping labels for addresses in the US and using it can help make sure your letters arrive to their correct destination on time.

So how can we integrate this technology into our PDF files? The USPS provides a free font that can be installed on your computer and subsequently used as the font of a text field in a PDF, and using this tool I've developed it's never been easier to set it up!

Let's say we have a field that contains the IMB value, and another field where we want the barcode to appear:

The original file with the two fields, and the menu item added by the script on the right (click to enlarge)
After the script is installed on the computer it adds a new menu button under the Tools panel, which allows us to set up our IMB field (the lower one in this case). Pressing the button pops-up this dialog:

The script's settings dialog window

In this dialog we select the Value and the Barcode field names, as well as the type of value we use.
In this case we have an non-encoded numeric value, so we select the first option. If we have an encoded value with A/D/F/T letters (for example: "FADDFAFTFTADAFDTFDDAAFDFAFADFTTDTFDDTDTTDDTTFFATFDFAATFAFAFTDFFDD"), we would select the second option.
Next we select whether the Mailer ID has 6 or 9 digits, and finally whether to hide the value field (in this case we keep it visible).
We click OK to proceed and get this message:

Clicking on Yes is recommended as it's required that the Barcode field use this font for the IMB barcode to appear.

And the result is this:
The original value and the corresponding barcode (click to enlarge)

If we change the text in the Value field to a different (valid) number, the Barcode field will update immediately as well:

Value field edited: Last digit changed to "3" (click to enlarge)
All the required code is now embedded in the PDF file and there's no need to use any external resources, as the font is fully embedded as well.

The fonts can be downloaded from here: https://ribbs.usps.gov/onecodesolution/download.cfm
(for a Windows computer I recommend looking for the latest version of the USPS non-AFP Fonts and then installing the TrueType font called "USPSIMBStandard.ttf" inside the zip file).

To verify the barcodes generated by the script one can use this online encoder tool by the USPS:

If you have any questions regarding this tool, contact me directly.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Acrobat -- Edit Links Properties

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Using this tool you can easily and quickly edit the various properties of the links in your PDF document. The tool allows you to select on which pages to edit the links, and in what way.
The properties that can be edited are: Border Color, Border Width (which can also be used to set the links as having an invisible rectangle) and Highlight Mode.

When the script is installed into Acrobat and run, it looks like this:

(click to enlarge)
 When the script is done you see a message like this:

And this is the edited version of the file:

(click to enlarge)

For more information about this tool you can contact me directly.

Monday, June 9, 2014

Easily Rename PDF Fields

One of the most annoying tasks when creating PDF forms is to rename many form fields in a single go. Acrobat doesn't offer the means of doing it automatically and doing it with a script can be a pain because it requires removing the old field and then creating a new one in its place with the new field name. Because of this I've decided to develop a standalone application that can do it quickly and easily.

I've created three versions of this tool, all for very reasonable prices.
The $5 version will rename any number of fields that you specify to it directly, by running it like this:
java -jar RenamePdfFields.jar "Input File Path" "Output File Path" "Current Field Name 1" "New Field Name 1" "Current Field Name 2" "New Field Name 2" ...
This means that the file will be opened, "Current Field Name 1" will be renamed as "New Field Name 1"and that "Current Field Name 2" will be renamed as "New Field Name 1", and then the file will be saved under the new file path.

The $10 version of this tool is a bit more advanced, in that you can specify the names of the current and new fields in an input file and don't have to write them out in the command. You can specify a single text file that contains two tab-delimited, with the current names in the first column and the new ones in the second column, or two text files, one with the current names and one with the old names.

The command for the first variant looks like this:
java -jar BatchRenamePdfFields.jar "Input File Path" "Output File Path" "List Path"
And the second variant looks like this:
java -jar BatchRenamePdfFields.jar "Input File Path" "Output File Path" "Current Names List Path" "New Names List Path"

However, it should be mentioned that these tools are not suitable for renaming duplicate fields (ie, multiple "widgets" with the same name).

It's important to stress out that both of these versions DO NOT REQUIRE ACROBAT and that they will both work on either a Windows or a Mac computer, as long as Java is installed.

The third version, which costs $20, is a script that runs within Acrobat. It accepts a tab-delimited text file with the names of the current fields in the first column and the new names in the second column, and will then process the fields in the file.
This version is very easy to use, but has one IMPORTANT caveat: renaming a field using this script will cause it to lose any actions associated with it, as well as settings such as format/validation/calculation.

For more information about these tools you can contact me directly.

Acrobat - Print or Extract Selected Pages

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Update (09/06/2014): Now this tool can also be used to extract the selected pages (only in Acrobat, of course). You select the pages just like before (using the added check-boxes) and then click a menu item that tool adds under Tools - Add-On Tools, and the selected pages are extracted to a new file.

Also improved is the mechanism that prints out the pages. If Acrobat or Reader XI are used all of the pages will be printed out in a SINGLE print command, not one by one. And if an older version is used the tool will attempt to print out the pages in as few print commands as possible by grouping the selected pages into ranges.

Sometimes you want to allow the reader of your file to easily select which pages they want to print out of it.
With this script you can automatically add a check-box to each page of your file, as well as a Print Selected Pages button.
The user can then simply tick the pages they want to print and then print them all with a single click.

The document with the check-boxes and the print button:

The print confirmation dialog:

After printing the user can reset the check-boxes, if they wish:

For more information about this tool you can contact me directly.