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FAQ: Creating PDF Files from FrameMaker Documents



FAQ: Creating PDF Files from FrameMaker Documents -- Why you
  should not use "save as PDF"! -- Windows & MacOS

An issue that has come up over and over again on several FrameMaker
and Acrobat/PDF email lists as well on the corresponding Adobe
User-to-User forums is that of creation of PDF files. FrameMaker
5.5.6 and 6 have what looks like a convenient feature that is
supposed to allow you to create PDF files via simply saving the
document as a PDF file. I have gone on record as advising end-users
not to use this approach for reliable creation of PDF files from
FrameMaker documents under Windows and MacOS with FrameMaker 6 and
earlier. Why do I most vociferously offer this advice and why
doesn't the problem get fixed? And how SHOULD you create PDF files
from FrameMaker?

GOOD NEWS

I will start with the good news. The "next major version" of
FrameMaker will indeed have "save as PDF" re-implemented in a
manner that it will be as reliable as printing to the "Acrobat
Distiller" printer instance under Windows or the "Create Adobe PDF"
desktop printer under MacOS. I am personally working with the
FrameMaker development organization to make sure this really
happens and is fully and properly tested and debugged! Furthermore,
this next major revision of FrameMaker, unlike FrameMaker 6, will
come with a Distiller installer that will properly install the
"Acrobat Distiller" printer instance under Windows and the "Create
Adobe PDF" desktop printer on the Macintosh (of course assuring
that the latest PostScript driver is also automatically and
correctly installed).

DON'T USE "SAVE AS PDF"

But what's wrong with "save as PDF" as currently implemented?

The following are some of the SYMPTOMS reported over the last few
years by FrameMaker users that were traced back to use of
"save as PDF" under FrameMaker:

(1) No PDF file is produced at all, possibly with a log file
showing not-readily apparent PostScript errors during distillation.

(2) The PDF file "loses" color in images. All or some images
(raster, bitmap images, NOT vector artwork) appear in the PDF file
in grayscale.

(3) The resultant PDF file is on the wrong paper size, i.e., the
document's logical page size does not match the output page size as
seen in Acrobat or Acrobat Reader.

(4) Some or all text in the resultant PDF file is blotchy looking
or overly bold.

(5) Some or all text in the resultant PDF file cannot be searched or
indexed.

(6) Some or all text in the resultant PDF file appears in Courier or
in some other substitution font.

(7) Interword or intercharacter spacing is a bit irregular in the
resultant PDF file.

(8) Content is missing in the margin areas of the page, i.e. you
cannot do full-page bleeds.

(9) Some or all page content is missing (other than margin areas).

(10) Relatively inefficient PDF is generated.

If this list by itself isn't enough for you, please note that some of
these symptoms are very subtle and may escape attention when the PDF
is first viewed or printed. Oftimes, it is when one attempts
to manipulate the PDF file in Acrobat or repurpose its content or
even view or print on a system other than the one on which the PDF
file was created, that some of these symptoms make themselves
obnoxiously visible (or invisible in some cases -- I won't make any
bad jokes here about graphic examples!).

It is important to understand that FrameMaker does NOT have its own
native ability to create PDF. Any and all PDF created from FrameMaker
documents is actually done by creating PostScript via the PostScript
driver and having the Acrobat Distiller create PDF from that PostScript.
The only exception to this is creation of PDF via the Acrobat PDFWriter
driver, which is likewise not recommended (see below).

In order for "save as PDF" to work correctly, FrameMaker must do the
equivalent of calling Printer Setup and selecting the "Acrobat
Distiller" printer instance under Windows or the "Create Adobe PDF"
desktop printer under MacOS followed by setting the driver's options
correctly for paper size, page range, etc., followed by sending the
proper commands to the driver to create PostScript.

Contrary to popular belief, PostScript as generated by the Windows and
MacOS PostScript drivers is VERY device-dependent. The information in
the PPD file associated with a printer driver instance provides
critical parameters for generation of PostScript including:

 Whether the printer supports color (Acrobat Distiller does)

 What PostScript language level is supported (Acrobat Distiller 4.x
and Acrobat Distiller 5.x are both PostScript language level 3)

 Whether native TrueType support is available (Acrobat supports
native TrueType as Type 42 fonts)

 Available binary communications (Acrobat Distiller supports pure
binary and ASCII, but NOT TCP, TBCP, or PJL)

 Resident fonts (Acrobat Distiller doesn't really have resident fonts)

 Available paper sizes and custom paper size availability (Acrobat
Distiller supports a wide range of predefined sizes and continually
variable "custom" sizes up to 200" by 200")

 Margins / printable areas (for PDF and the Acrobat Distiller, there
are no margins in which imaging is not permitted)

 Device resolution (Acrobat Distiller can be set to any value from
72 to 4000 dpi; as a convenience, the Acrobat Distiller PPD provides a
series of values for use by the driver. Since there is no inherent
"resolution" of a PDF file, this parameter is used only for purposes
of allowing PostScript programs that query for such a value to be
satisfied and for the driver to be able to communicate this value to
the operating system and/or application as required.)

 Paper handling (totally irrelevant to Acrobat Distiller -- if input
or output tray selection via "setpagedevice" is found in the PostScript
stream, it is ignored by Acrobat Distiller)

Thus, if the wrong printer driver instance is selected (i.e., it isn't
associated with the Acrobat Distiller PPD file) or that driver instance
is improperly configured, improper PostScript will result and one or
more of the symptoms described above can occur. As currently
implemented, FrameMaker depending upon version will not necessarily
choose the correct printer driver instance and/or correctly parameterize
the print job via driver setup options. In fact, FrameMaker 5,5,6 might
even try to generate PDF via calling a PCL driver, FAX driver, or even
a non-PostScript inkjet printer!

DON'T USE PDFWRITER

The Acrobat PDFWriter is a relic of older versions of Acrobat. In fact,
it is no longer installed by default in the "easy install" or the
"typical install" of Acrobat 5. It hasn't really be updated since
Acrobat 3 and only supports PDF 1.2. It is a GDI (Windows) / QuickDraw
(MacOS) driver that directly generates PDF without any intermediary
PostScript. Since it is not a PostScript printer driver, applications
cannot pass through EPS graphics and/or PDFMark information (used for a
wide variety of purposes by FrameMaker). For EPS graphics, most
applications will send the low resolution TIFF (or PICT) EPS header in
lieu of the PostScript text, if they send anything at all, to the driver.
Forget about links, structure, or any other PDF "goodies." Expect that
PDFWriter will fully "bite the dust" in the next major version of Acrobat.

SO HOW DO I GENERATE PDF FILES FROM FRAMEMAKER 6 & EARLIER?

The ONLY method that is really reliable for producing PDF files with
FrameMaker 6 and earlier requires the generation of PostScript via a
properly set printer driver instance associated with the Acrobat
Distiller PPD and distillation of the resultant PostScript by Acrobat
Distiller.

Case 1:  FrameMaker and the Full Acrobat 4.05 or Acrobat 5.0x Products

PDF file from a "chapter" -- print directly to the Acrobat Distiller
printer instance (Windows) or the Create Adobe PDF desktop printer
(MacOS) already installed by Acrobat. If you check the "Acrobat data"
option, then make sure to UNcheck the "print to file" option that gets
set at the same time. As a result, the driver will automatically send the
generated PostScript to the Distiller for you and delete the intermediate
PostScript when done.

PDF file from a "book" -- print directly to the Acrobat Distiller printer
instance with the "print to file" option checked (Windows) or the Virtual
Printer desktop printer (MacOS) associated with the Distiller PPD (see
details below under Case 2/MacOS). You will need to manually process the
resultant PostScript file through the Distiller (or use a "watched folder"
arrangement).

In both the above sub-cases, the default driver options generally will be
OK, but check on paper size and communication protocol (Use pure binary,
not ASCII, for optimal performance AND no CTRL-D characters under Windows.
Make sure to set Level 3 only and Binary under MacOS. Font inclusion "All"
for Acrobat 4.05 and "None" for Acrobat 5 under MacOS.). With Acrobat 4.05,
make sure you preset the Distiller to use the joboptions you want. With
Acrobat 5, you can set this on a job-by-job basis via the driver printer
setup interface (or print dialog on MacOS).

Case 2:  FrameMaker 6 and the Bundled Acrobat 4.05 Distiller

Windows -- Create a new printer driver instance using the latest version
of the Adobe Universal PostScript Driver Installer, downloadable from
Adobe's web site AND the Acrobat Distiller PPD file (located in the XTRAS
subdirectory of the Distiller directory). This driver instance should be
set to print to the local port named "FILE:". Name this driver instance as
"Acrobat Distiller". The default driver options generally will be OK, but
check on paper size and communication protocol (use pure binary, not ASCII,
for optimal performance AND no CTRL-D characters). Make sure you preset
the Distiller to use the joboptions you want. Print directly to this
Acrobat Distiller printer instance. Make sure that the "print to file"
option is checked. You will need to manually process the resultant
PostScript file through the Distiller (or use a "watched folder"
arrangement).

MacOS -- Install the latest version of AdobePS 8.7.x, downloadable from
Adobe's web site. In FrameMaker, go to Page Setup and select the "Virtual
Printer" and go to the "Virtual Printer" window pane. Select the Acrobat
Distiller PPD file (located in the XTRAS subfolder of the Distiller folder).
Print directly to the "Virtual Printer" (Make sure to set Level 3 only,
Binary, and font inclusion "All".). Make sure you preset the Distiller to
use the joboptions you want. You will need to manually process the resultant
PostScript file through the Distiller (or use a "watched folder" arrangement).

Case 3:  Acrobat 3

Acrobat 3 is not officially supported for the latest OS versions and I
personally would no longer recommend its use for generation of PDF files
given that Acrobat 5.0.5 is the current version of Acrobat.

	- Dov


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