In some ways, technical writers (and lots of other folks) got an early Christmas present yesterday. Solveig Haugland reported that Sun engineers are working on an extension for OpenOffice.org that will import PDF files and make them editable.
Now if you hang out in the technical writing/FrameMaker/Acrobat world
for very long, you will learn that PDF is designed as a read-only
format. To use a programming analogy, PDF is the binary file and the
Word/Frame/whatever original format the PDF was made in is the source
code. You can see their point a little when you have gone through several iterations of a document, and don’t want trolls looking through Track Changes for a comment. Things are different when a company has hired you to redo their 300-page user manual, and all anyone can find is the downloadable PDF on the website! Acrobat Reader does have some copy/paste abilities, but it can be cumbersome. There are some Windows-based applications that will convert PDF to Word with varying degrees of success, but they tend to be of value only if you need to perform this activity fairly frequently.
If this project succeeds, everyone, regardless of their operating system will have free access to a tool that you might not use all that often, but will likely be a lifesaver when you need it. For now, Thorsten Behrens reports that they’ve been able to import a computer assisted design diagram into OOo Draw and Impress (the presentation module). Next up will be Writer, and that’s when I’ll really get excited.
For details, snapshots and (source) downloads, visit the OpenOffice.org wiki.
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