RISC World

PC File Conversion

Part 5 Desktop Publishing - Brian Pickard

One of the most popular areas of computer use is desktop publishing. As a result many different desktop publishing applications have been produced on all the computer platforms over the years. Notable applications include Quark for the Macintosh, Microsoft Publisher for the PC and Impression Publisher and OvationPro for RISC OS machines. This has resulted in many differing file codings all which are readable only by their parent applications. The main problems in trying to port DTP between platforms can be broadly spilt into the following areas:

Font Definitions
Every platform holds the shapes of its fonts in font files and each use a different system! However for the RISC OS user wishing to supply fonts with a document you do have two options, both DrFonty and FontFiend (both from APDL) can export a font in PostScript format. The resulting font can be used directly on a PC with Adobe Type Manager. It can also be loaded into Fontographer on the Mac and converted into a Macintosh format font.

BitMap and Vector Diagrams
As we have already seen PC's have a multitude of differing bitmap and vector drawing formats. These would all have to be changed into the native bitmap and vector file codings for the destination platform (although some bitmaps can be ported over directly e.g. JPEGs).

Actual DTP document file coding
Each DTP application uses its own way of coding the layout of the its document in its file so no other DTP package would be able to read a non native DTP file.

Ways round the problems

The easiest way of sending a DTP document between the different platforms is to try and use a format that every platform can read. Luckily there is one, Adobes Portable Document Format (PDF). In this way the entire format of the document can be retained (even the font shapes even if the fonts do not exist on the destination platform).

RISC OS to PC's and Macs

Lets say you have produced your publication on either Impression Publisher Ovation Pro etc. on the your RISC OS machine and you want to send it to a publisher and/or friend who has a PC or Mac. Here is how to do it.

  • Produce a PDF version of your document. I do this as follows.
  • Make sure any Sprites are 24 bit.
  • Print to file using the PostScript 2 printer driver (with the colour switched on).
  • Using RISCScript (from Cerilica) drag the PostScript file onto the RISCScript icon.
  • The whole document should look just the same as in your DTP package.
  • Now save the document from RISCScript as a PDF file. (Using a /pdf extension to the filename).

This file will be quite small compared to the PostScript and your original DTP document file due to PDF's built in compression. This makes the file idea for sending via the net as an email attachment. All the font shapes can be saved within the PDF document so the PC should display a completely accurate version.

From PC to RISC OS

Get the PC owner to produce a PDF version of their DTP document, with the font shapes saved within the document. Set the filetype of the PDF file to PDF (&ADF). Load the PDF file into a PDF viewer. Printout a copy if required.

There is one drawback to this method. The file sent and received will probably be uneditable. (Unless the PC owner has the full Adobe PDF application.) The recently release Serif PagePlus 9 will save it in PDF format, so this can be used without the need to convert PostScript and then PDF.

Serif PagePlus9

This is a very good DTP package rivaling Microsoft Publisher. The addition of PDF format support for saving is very useful. It will also save the publication pages as bitmap images (JPEG etc.) or as vector files (WMF most useful) one page/file. These can then be, in theory turned into a draw file using the utility !WMF-Draw. In fact this software lends itself better than any other PC only DTP package I have seen for exporting/importing images etc. between RISC OS and PCs. So I have produced a two page document to show the possibilities (it's in the software directory - ED).


I imported, into PagePlus 9, the mini car Artworks file using two methods:

  • Exporting the file using Artworks as a Drawfile. Then using the !Draw-WMF utility to change it to the Windows Metafile format (WMF).
  • Exporting the file using Artworks as an Artworks EPS file. This can be read by the PC program Xara X (this is actually the PC equivalent of Artworks and will load Acorn Drawfiles). Then exporting it out of Xara X as a WMF file.

Both WMF files can then be loaded into PagePlus 9. The second method gives the better quality and if using Microsoft Publisher only the second version will load!

For other bitmap requirements just change them from RISC OS sprites to any convenient PC format (BMP, PNG, GIF etc for line/cartoon style images and JPEG for photos).

PagePlus 9 will decode Microsoft Word text so you could send any text as raw or Word format.


Using PagePlus 9 publishing as a PDF document option produces the entire document in PDF format in various Adobe formats, I chose Adobe5 compatibility to make sure my RISC OS RISCScript app would be able to decode it. One hint is to tick the option in PagePlus9 to convert all fonts to paths to ensure their shapes are retained. To retain editability you could export each page from PagePlus9 as an WMF file and load it via !Draw-WMF RISC OS utility into Draw. Fonts shapes aren't retained and sometimes the whole process gets in a tangle!

Common Formats

The neatest way round the problem would be to find applications that have RISC OS and PC versions, here are some examples:

  • Textease from Softease is one such application with a PC version. It is really a multimedia application allowing full blown presentations with sound to be produced, but can be used as a good basic DTP package.
  • David Pillings OvationPro also has (at the moment) a FREE time limited PC version which I have tried very successfully and I have included this with my PDF file. It allows the user to produce a font conversion table so that your documents should be a good approximation when displayed on the PC.
  • Easywriter Pro from Icon Technology can read Microsoft word format documents.

PC Formats to avoid

Microsoft Publisher format. I have not come across any RISC OS apps that can deal with MS Publisher files. I have also had no luck with older versions of Serif PagePlus.

Of course if you know of any RISC OS utilities that can read the above formats please let us know!

Well thats it for this part, and this short series. If there are any other areas you have come across that you have successfully transferred from PC to RISC OS please let us know. I trust the hints and tips have been helpful.

Brian Pickard