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Import and Edit PDFs with

Andrew Ziem, of Ninja, writes about OpenOffice’s upcoming PDF importing and hybrid PDF capabilities.

The capability will be delivered as an extension and will let you open and edit any PDF. It also supports a new format called a Hybrid PDF, which can be displayed by PDF viewers but edited by ODF editors.

Ziem gives credit where it’s due with regard to editing PDFs: “ did not pioneer PDF import—not even in the open source market. Some of the work in is done by xpdf, a PDF viewer. To import PDFs, open source alternatives include pdftohtml, Abiword, KWord, and Inkscape. Adobe Acrobat Reader includes a text extractor and an image scraper, and there are a host of commercial applications. What makes stand out is hybrid PDFs.”

Hybrid PDFs provide the best of both worlds: consistent display anywhere via its PDF component, and editability via its ODF component.

“Most applications (such as Adobe Acrobat Reader) ignore the ODF bits and treat the whole hybrid file as a normal PDF. Presentation is pixel perfect. Wait. That’s not all. 3.0 with this extension treats the hybrid as a normal ODF, so the ODF document opens in Writer, Impress, Calc, or Draw according on the original. (You didn’t just expect Writer, did you?) Now you have lossless, editable, round-trip PDFs.”

The extension is still in development, but will be available on the OOo Extensions site when it’s ready for mass deployment.

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