PDF Documents Manipulation Software options

Polytropon freebsd at edvax.de
Wed Apr 22 23:16:23 UTC 2020

On Wed, 22 Apr 2020 15:50:03 -0700, Jordan wrote:
> I agree, manually manipulating PDFs with a GUI is not very efficient,
> however, the work I do cannot be automated (atleast I haven't found
> a way).  

Okay, so you have a scope of what you're trying to do.

> On a PDF I may have to extract out pages 3, 5 and 14 into a new 3
> page PDF because I only need the data from pages 3, 5 and 14.  The
> very next PDF file I work on I may need to extract out 20 pages, all
> in a row, from pages 20 to 40.  The next PDF file I may need the
> first and last page.  There is absolutely no common denominator from
> these three PDF's and the only thing common is that I need to extract
> pages.  

While you will surely agree that pdftk can do this, I assume that
you also have to look at the pages you're going to process. That's
where probably Gimp's or LibreOffice's PDF support is the better
tool. This matches a lot with your further description: You need
interactive visual inspection, and basically "one of a kind"-work
has to be done.

> It is easier to visually click, hold CTRL to continue highlighting
> pages and then right click, extract (which creates a new PDF) and
> then drag and drop the new PDF pages into a GUI file manager (such
> as Thunar) to create the new PDF.

Many years ago, I had to do something similar with PDF files only
containing images of circuit boards. I decided to use pdfimages
(from the xpdf package) first, then previewing them in a GUI file
manager with preview support; I deleted the non-needed images,
renumbered what required renumbering, and then run my png2pdf.sh
script (that uses ImageMagicK's convert program in combination
with pdftk) on the "result directory", which generated a new PDF
file containing only the diagrams needed. Of course, this does not
work for PDF files containing text, but for this specific task,
there is no text, only Zuul. ;-)

> I don't see how CLI tools will work with the above example
> workflows although I am all ears to hearing others opinions.

A CLI tool in combination with a "selector" (GUI file manager)
would probably be possible, but limited (as I mentioned). You
could of course do something like this:

	1. use pdftk to split PDF input file with n pages
	   into n PDF files, one for each page

	2. use GUI file manager for preview, maybe deleting
	   and maybe re-ordering files

	3. use pdftk on n-k files to generate new PDF output
	   file with n-k pages

The actions for steps 1 and 3 can be launched from the file
manager's context menu for the specific directory, so you
don't even have to use a terminal here.

However, this all doesn't look very convenient even when
presented in pseudo code. :-)

> I know "professional" PDF software such as Adobe Acrobat Pro works
> but it is only compatible with Windows (and maybe GNU/Linux).

I don't know if it is possible to use it with wine, it _might_ be
possible; however, licensing issues and costs are significant here
(check Adobe's "always online" licensing stuff if you want to get

Maybe you can try Gimpshop (a "Photoshop"-like variant of Gimp,
which has PDF support that might be exactly what you need).

Furthermore, the office applications (LibreOffice and OpenOffice,
I never know which one I should name) will probably also be able
to do this.

> I found another proprietary PDF Professional software but it is
> only available for Windows, Mac and GNU/Linux.  I am on a quest
> to find something for FreeBSD as I believe it to be superior OS
> than the aforementioned.

Using a "Windows" or a Linux program is often possible, but of
course the vendors won't tell you about this, because they do
not support FreeBSD as a platform, do no testing on that platform,
don't care about that platform, and probably don't even know about
that platform. And spending $$$$$ just to find out it doesn't work
surely isn't acceptable.

Magdeburg, Germany
Happy FreeBSD user since 4.0
Andra moi ennepe, Mousa, ...

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