Making PDFs and Booklets for Free

The solution here is far from unique. Try here for a psychadelic version that is the basis of the approach presented here.

We are concerned here only with Windows machines: Win9x and WinNT (2000, XP, etc.)

The solution I present here is the one that I know works. The hard work is in the installation, and the generation is pretty simple after that. I have structured this document with the usage information first, then an installation procedure followed by a discussion of issues. The approach presented here is very easy to use but is a little tedious to install.

Usage

To create a PDF document:

That's all there is to it. Once you have created a PDF file, you can double click it to view it in, say, Acrobat Reader. Or you can make a booklet out of it and then view and print in Acrobat Reader or the like.

If you follow the installation procedure here, you can create a booklet that mimics the process of laying down two sheets of an A4 or letter document onto a photocopier and reducing them to a single page of A4. To do this:

Installation

Installing all the tools that go to allow such simple usage is straightforward, but somewhat tedious. There are a number of steps that need to be gone through, but none of them are all that complicated. Just follow the instructions listed here carefully, and you should have something that works.

The installation involves installing 3 or 4 packages (depending upon whether you want booklet creation or not): Ghostscript to convert from Postscript to PDF; Adobe Postscript Printer Driver to create the Postscript from your application, in a consistent fashion; Redmon to link the two seamlessly; pdfbklt to create a booklet. These instructions will describe how to get hold of these programs and how to install and configure them in this context.

Ghostscript

Download Ghoscript version 7.22 or later, available here. I would recommend getting the latest version (the installation with the highest version number).

Run the installation program (gs730w32.exe) and follow the defaults. This will install Ghostscript into c:\gs\gs7.30 (which may vary for different versions of Ghoscript. We will use this directory by default later on, adjust these instructions as necessary)

Adobe PS Printer Driver

Download the Adobe PS Printer driver from here. You will also need a Postscript Printer Driver for a specific printer. We use the one from Acrobat 4, available here.

Run the installer program (winsteng.exe)

Redmon

Download the latest version of Redmon, available here

Configuration

The configuration basically involves setting up the redmon printer port and integrating it into the Ghoscript PDF Generator printer configuration.

Find the Ghostscript PDF Generator printer in Windows Explorer (under Printers).

Click: Add Port...

Click Port Settings...

Select Spool Settings...

This completes the installation process for creating PDF files. You can now print to the Ghoscript PDF Generator printer and create PDF files as per the usage instructions above.

PDFBklt

To create booklets, it is necessary to install a further program.

Download pdfbklt.exe from here.

Copy to C:\gs

In Windows Explorer, Select: Tools/Folder Options/FileTypes

Issues

Searching

One big reason why you may want to pay out for the full Acrobat product is that Ghostscript does not produce PDF that can be searched. Text is recoded through the conversion process and so cannot be searched. This is a big loss. Ah well, you get what you pay for. There are no plans to upgrade Ghostcript to support creating searchable text. Please feel free to contribute a patch!

PDFBklt

PDFBklt is a Perl program that comes as part of the Text::PDF package. The source of the latest version is available on CPAN.

This is an initial draft of this document. All corrections are greatly welcomed.