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The Wook

Discovered that Publisher may just replace Acrobat as my go-to pdf reader and text editor

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Posted (edited)

Just purchased Publisher to help support its development. While I can't use it for my technical writing owing to the lack of native cross referencing capability :(, I've discovered that it may just replace my use of Acrobat Pro. If so, another Adobe tether snipped.

Publisher seems to do a nice job in recognizing and interpreting the text from my 300+ page pdf manual I created years ago using FrameMaker. Copying and pasting selected paragraph blocks from it into Word, Publisher seems to recognize and interpret these paragraph blocks correctly. It doesn't insert returns at the end of each line as a pdf reader does, nor does it double the spaces between each word. Both are things that the pdf reader I've been testing (Sejda) does, the latter inexplicably.  Both are a PITA to correct in volume.

Given that I primarily under-use Acrobat Pro that comes with my CC subscription for mainly reading pdfs and performing minor text edits,  this is a pleasant surprise.

Edited by The Wook

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Hi @The Wook,

Be aware that one major limitation of this is that the Affinity products do not currently support use of fonts which are embedded within a PDF.

If you open a PDF which used a font that is not installed on your system, a different font will be substituted, causing the PDF to look different from what was originally intended.

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3 hours ago, fde101 said:

Be aware that one major limitation of this is that the Affinity products do not currently support use of fonts which are embedded within a PDF.

If you open a PDF which used a font that is not installed on your system, a different font will be substituted, causing the PDF to look different from what was originally intended.

Wouldn't that be true of even Acrobat when you need to edit the text? It has been many versions ago since I last made frequent use of Acrobat, but I seem to recall that any time I needed to edit text, I had to have the font installed for the portion of text I was editing.

Frankly, I would use PDF as a source document only as a last choice, as I would always expect that retro-converting a PDF back into an editable document to be fraught with issues. However, I think the Affinity suite handles this well to a rather extraordinary degree–not good enough to replace the need for a simple pass-through without interpretation of placed PDFs, but as I criticize that weakness on the one hand, I do want to praise Serif for a surprisingly good PDF import on the other.

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1 hour ago, garrettm30 said:

Wouldn't that be true of even Acrobat when you need to edit the text?

Probably, though I have never tried that with Acrobat.  However, I would expect it to do that only when editing the text in question - in the case of the Affinity products it will do that even with text that is not being edited.

 

1 hour ago, garrettm30 said:

Frankly, I would use PDF as a source document only as a last choice

Agreed 100%.  PDFs are not meant to have their content edited; that was kind of the whole point of them when the format was introduced.

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7 hours ago, fde101 said:

Hi @The Wook,

Be aware that one major limitation of this is that the Affinity products do not currently support use of fonts which are embedded within a PDF.

If you open a PDF which used a font that is not installed on your system, a different font will be substituted, causing the PDF to look different from what was originally intended.

Hello @fde101,

Indeed, as I pasted each block into Word, my next step was to apply my chosen paragraph style as the substitute typeface was incorrect. I created the source working document about eight years ago in FrameMaker. Was pretty happy not to use that powerful but often non-intuitive program again and let its separate subscription slide.

I've been using the Adobe suite for a long time. Over the period that I've used InDesign, which otherwise is a wonderful program, I'd never tried reading a pdf with it. I've always had access to Acrobat Pro for my pdf use. It's why I was surprised with just how well Publisher worked in my recent task...especially with it being able to interpret blocks of text correctly as paragraphs. Why the Sejda pdf reader/editor was also adding extra spaces between most words was puzzling and another task to have to fix via find/replace.

Hence one part of my happiness in discovering this alternate use of Publisher for my task at hand...the second being not have to find an Acrobat alternative for Adobe-cutting...and this post.

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8 hours ago, fde101 said:

Hi @The Wook,

Be aware that one major limitation of this is that the Affinity products do not currently support use of fonts which are embedded within a PDF.

If you open a PDF which used a font that is not installed on your system, a different font will be substituted, causing the PDF to look different from what was originally intended.

Hello again, @fde101,

Just discovered Publisher just may offer a partial solution to pdf-embedded fonts as well. It identifies the typefaces used in the pdf and gives you the option of choosing their replacements.

After reloading my pdf into the program today, this time I spent a moment in the PDF Options panel that launched when I started the import.

In addition to checking "Favor editable text over fidelity and "Group lines of text into text frames" (this was likely the magic that made me happy earlier), I now checked "Replace missing fonts".

Publisher: PDF Options Panel

I went through the displayed list and chose the replacement family for each of those listed in the pdf. This included a couple that I no longer had on my system, but that Publisher identified as having been used. I changed each of them to the typefaces that I'm using in my destination Word document. It worked...but I still needed to apply my chosen Word styles owing to slight variations in the new font size, leading, and sometimes justification that I now use for this new doc.

It's impressive to me that Publisher recognized all the fonts I'd used eight years ago in my FM document, including a couple of pretty obscure ones that I'd used on very specific and rare occasions.

 

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4 minutes ago, The Wook said:

It's impressive to me that Publisher recognized all the fonts I'd used eight years ago in my FM document, including a couple of pretty obscure ones that I'd used on very specific and rare occasions.

PDF contain such informations, with embedded font or not.

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18 minutes ago, The Wook said:

gives you the option of choosing their replacements

Note that these substitutions might only be used while displaying the PDF within Publisher itself and not permanently replace the font choice within the document.  If that is the case, to do the actual replacements once you have identified the fonts to replace, use Find and Replace, and use the gear icon next to each of "Find" and "Replace" to search by and replace with "Format", which will allow you to specify the fonts to search for and to replace with.

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@Wosven @fde101

Thanks for this info.

On the note of substitution, I'd not considered doing so to alter the pdf but simply to improve my copy/paste operation into Word. On that use, it has already helped. Will keep your comment in mind should I ever need to modify a pdf in this way.

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If you're looking for PDF Viewer, Affinity isn't it. Yet.  It will 'convert' a PDF into a DTP document, but it can't be trusted to represent font data 100% accurately. 

If you need a viewer, then there's Acrobat Reader, or Foxit Reader. For Editors, Master PDF Editor is quite good and on all platforms. On Mac there's PDFPen Pro. There are plenty of others. 

If you want post-processing of PDFs, then really you have to go the command line route of things like GhostScript, Coherent PDF, or python scripts.

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Context is everything. In my situation pdf pass through is essential as I receive copy in pdf format from third parties and I simply cannot risk them not looking as intended. The lack of pdf pass through is one of the the most asked for features of the suite. A search of the forums will confirm this.

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On 7/19/2020 at 6:42 AM, benwiggy said:

If you're looking for PDF Viewer, Affinity isn't it. Yet.  It will 'convert' a PDF into a DTP document, but it can't be trusted to represent font data 100% accurately. 

If you need a viewer, then there's Acrobat Reader, or Foxit Reader. For Editors, Master PDF Editor is quite good and on all platforms. On Mac there's PDFPen Pro. There are plenty of others. 

If you want post-processing of PDFs, then really you have to go the command line route of things like GhostScript, Coherent PDF, or python scripts.

@benwiggy

I wasn't actually actively looking for a pdf reader when I posted this. Just found out as a pleasant surprise that for my generally-limited use of Acrobat's features, that Publisher would serve me nicely as a reader that also has the ability to generally correctly interpret my pdfs to allow their simple editing. Not having to even look for another simple reader is just a small bonus.

...plus, this ability also fits into my desire to ditch my Adobe subscription.

PDF scripting and similar usage really isn't a need for me.

I've been using Publisher for the past week or so as my pdf reader and light editor and am pretty happy so far.

I'm even happier with Designer and Photo, the main magnets for my purchase. Am very close to hitting the subscription cancel button.

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4 hours ago, The Wook said:

@benwiggy

 Just found out as a pleasant surprise that Publisher would serve me nicely as a reader that also has the ability to generally correctly interpret my pdfs to allow their simple editing.

As said, there are still a number of problems with Affinity's 'correct interpreting' of imported PDFs. You can't rely on it, and you need to double-check everything. 

I'm still on MacOS Mojave so that I can use Creative Suite 6, and when Affinity finally imports PDFs accurately, I'll be able to forsake Adobe.

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