Author Topic: Cheap (free) software for assembling pages (pdf and other)  (Read 453 times)

Cheap (free) software for assembling pages (pdf and other)
« on: February 04, 2020, 11:07:48 pm »
Our club bulletin comes out three times a year. Last year we started sending it out by e-mail rather than snail mail and courier pigeon. Certain parts have been sent to the editor (club sec, now me!) in pdf, others in either docx or odt (depending on the poverty or free mindedness of the author). The principal task is to assemble all the pages into one unified document which is converted into pdf to be sent out. Editing spelling errors is an added task when it is possible. Last year I discovered PDF Architect which seemed to do quite a good job for my fairly limited use (I took on the job of producing the digital edition before being officially sec). This year I find that having paid a subsciption 6 months ago I know have to pay double  to continue using it (60€ a year for producing at most 80 pages - total - is not a particularly good deal in my view so I haven't paid).
The question is is there an open source alternative to do the job. The first bulletin this year I have done by pasting pages directly into libreoffice but the results are not anything like as good as with PDF Architect, mainly because the margins become much too big and the print area suffers in consequence (and there doesn't seem to be much that I can do about it).

Solutions would have to be M$ compatible since France is a M$ country and any collaborators in the club will be Windosy (I would be very happy with Linux solutions but I am probably the only one).

Thanks in advance - all advice welcome!

Jaded

  • The Codfather
  • Formerly known as Jaded
Re: Cheap (free) software for assembling pages (pdf and other)
« Reply #1 on: February 04, 2020, 11:42:08 pm »
https://affinity.serif.com/en-gb/publisher/

Probably technical overkill, but astonishing value for what it is. Deals with pdf files nicely.
If you don't like your democracy, vote against it.

ian

  • fatuously disingenuous
    • The Suburban Survival Guide
Re: Cheap (free) software for assembling pages (pdf and other)
« Reply #2 on: February 05, 2020, 09:09:27 am »
No help, but Macs do this automatically in Preview (just drag and drop the individual PDFs), so I'd have thought there'd be similar functionality in Window?. It's 2020, surely MS has integrated something useful into Windows...
!nataS pihsroW

Snakehips

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Re: Cheap (free) software for assembling pages (pdf and other)
« Reply #3 on: February 05, 2020, 11:19:55 am »
A decade or more ago I used a free service called YUDU. It is still there , though I think it's a bit less free  these days. There were other similar offerings available at that time, one was called SCRIBD , I forget the other(s).
Mustn't grumble in the circumstances .

Woofage

  • Ain't no hooves on my bike.
Re: Cheap (free) software for assembling pages (pdf and other)
« Reply #4 on: February 05, 2020, 01:07:00 pm »
The first bulletin this year I have done by pasting pages directly into libreoffice but the results are not anything like as good as with PDF Architect

Is this by opening in LibreOffice Draw first?
Pen Pusher

Re: Cheap (free) software for assembling pages (pdf and other)
« Reply #5 on: February 05, 2020, 01:13:43 pm »
Last year I had a 100 page club handbook to update.  My only source was a PDF.  I used one of the free online PDF to WORD converters; I don't recall which one.  You lose all formatting, so tables are very weird, but blocks of text are not bad.  In a 100 page doc this was a major reformatting task, but for your size I guess not.  I imagine that having a WORD document you can open this in your LibreOffice.

ian

  • fatuously disingenuous
    • The Suburban Survival Guide
Re: Cheap (free) software for assembling pages (pdf and other)
« Reply #6 on: February 05, 2020, 02:19:14 pm »
Ideally, you want source documents (Word, LibreOffice etc.) that you can save as PDF, then mush them together using a tool of your preference. Be aware that any PDF you receive will probably have been downsampled so quality tends to drop off if you try to edit and resave.

If you're familiar or willing to learn some basic desktop publishing, as Jaded mentioned, Affinity Publisher is a fantastic bargain, I use it professionally now as an alternative to InDesign. That would let you drop in the supplied text, tidy it up, add any graphics and logos and generate the final PDF with far fewer tears than trying to do so in a word processor.
!nataS pihsroW

Re: Cheap (free) software for assembling pages (pdf and other)
« Reply #7 on: February 07, 2020, 07:01:35 pm »
https://affinity.serif.com/en-gb/publisher/

Probably technical overkill, but astonishing value for what it is. Deals with pdf files nicely.
I had heard of Publisher from my clubmate who is a Cyclo-cardiaque; it's what their editor uses for their bulletin. His impression was that it was a "usine à gaz" (french expression denoting something very complex). If it really is the tool for the job seems I'm going to have to get on a learning curve!
The first bulletin this year I have done by pasting pages directly into libreoffice but the results are not anything like as good as with PDF Architect

Is this by opening in LibreOffice Draw first?

No. Not ever using LibreOffice Draw i wasn't even thinking of it. My solution was to create a page in Writer, right click on a pdf file (not more than one page long), copy and paste into my empty page. It only works for pages under a page in length but my pdf viewer doesn't allow me to copy. Pdf docs longer than one page had to be operated on to reduce them in size. Since i think Writer is treating things as imported images the page margins get doubled on each copy! Not very good but some docs arrived late so I was a bit stuck for time.

ian

  • fatuously disingenuous
    • The Suburban Survival Guide
Re: Cheap (free) software for assembling pages (pdf and other)
« Reply #8 on: February 07, 2020, 08:04:50 pm »
To be honest, it's not that difficult, but it's a different paradigm to what word processors have hammered into us. Ironically, word processors started as the glorified typewriters of the digital age, but scope creep led them to include more and more formatting (and other) features, to which they were ill-suited and the features ill-implemented (the hideousness of styles and themes in Word is truly breath-defying). As a result of trying to do everything they became not very good at everything but everyone is forced to use them, it's like trying to bash in nails with the handle of a screwdriver. Those people sobbing and holding clumps of their own hair in the corner of any office in the world? They're the ones trying to place an image in a Microsoft Word document.

The alternative takes a bit more planning to set up a document with margins, columns etc. and decide on a few styles (headings, body text). Then it's a case of drawing frames and adding the content, adding your styles to it, but that's it. They're composition tools (though you can, of course, edit and write text in them). The results not only come out looking vastly more professional, it's vastly less frustrating than trying to achieve the same results in a word processor. If I want a picture to appear right there, I put the frame where I want it, and that's that. It doesn't suicidally leap over the bounds of the page when I change something four pages downstream. And once set up, you simply use the same going forward, just change the content for each issue.

But yeah, there's a learning curve that you may or may not be inclined to.
!nataS pihsroW

fuaran

  • rothair gasta
Re: Cheap (free) software for assembling pages (pdf and other)
« Reply #9 on: February 07, 2020, 08:28:15 pm »
Scribus is an option for free DTP software. Available for Linux, Windows, etc.
Yes, it can be complicated, but makes sense once you have figured it out. Better than using a word processor anyway.
Seems the latest version (1.5) has improved support for importing PDF.

Re: Cheap (free) software for assembling pages (pdf and other)
« Reply #10 on: February 07, 2020, 09:29:00 pm »
If you literally just want to concatentate multiple pdfs into one there are many free tools at do this - type pdfmerge into google.

It is one of the more straight forward things to write as you don’t need to know the nitty gritty of rendering the pages which is why there are so many of them.



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Cudzoziemiec

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Re: Cheap (free) software for assembling pages (pdf and other)
« Reply #11 on: February 08, 2020, 01:30:26 pm »
For something similar – about 8 pages, once a month – I just put it all together in Word then convert to pdf. No one complains.
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