March 20, 2005

When built-in support isn't enough

My fifth reunion at Stanford is this fall. For every reunion, Stanford puts together a "class book" consisting of one page for every person in the class who wants to send one in. The page includes things like current contact information, a picture, favorite Stanford memories, and a large section for what you've been up to since graduation. I read through Adrienne's copy from her reunion last fall and it was really interesting to see what everyone had been up to.

The deadline for getting the page submitted is Wednesday and I've been somewhat busy lately, so I find myself spending my Sunday afternoon trying to put it together. The alumni association is nice enough to provide a PDF file with form fields for the standard info, I figured I could just fill out the fields, print to PDF with Mac OS X's built-in Print to PDF support, open the result in Graphic Converter or something like that to put pictures in, and then mail off the result or just take it to the alumni folks on campus.

Preview doesn't support PDF forms, so I had to go download Adobe Reader 7. That didn't work at all with some of the form fields, so I gave up and found a copy of Adobe Reader 6.1. That worked with all of the fields, so I spent a little while filling them out exactly as I wanted them and went to print. But no...that'd be too easy. Adobe Reader actually disables the standard Print to PDF button, so you can't print to PDF within it. It disables print previews, too, so I can't preview the document in Preview, then print to PDF from there. So there's basically no way for me to get any output at all out of Adobe Reader other than printing to paper, which I can't do because I don't have a printer at home (and which wouldn't help anyway because I'm not done with the document). So I'm stuck, all because Adobe decided to turn off built-in features of the operating system. Removing standard features is really not a good way to convince me to use any of your software....

Meanwhile, I'm still looking for a solution. I don't know what I'll do at this point. I'm certainly not paying $299 for a copy of Acrobat Standard just so I can complete one form.

Update: Adrienne put everything together for me, including the graphic, and in probably a tenth of the time it would've taken me. Thanks, Adrienne!