RISC World

PDF Maker

Matt Thompson

PDFSuite is a brand new release from RComp. I have to admit that having placed my order it wasn't quite what I was expecting. I assumed it would a main application with some freebie support software thrown in, however it's not quite that after all, the name PDFSuite is a bit of a giveaway really, in that this is a suite of programs which are all related to the use of PDF files on RISC OS. For those that don't know PDF stands for Portable Document Format, you may know PDF better as "Acrobat" as they are the same thing. The principle is to provide a highly compressed document that can be viewed and printed on any machine and that will always look the same regardless of the platform it's viewed on. PDFSuite allows you to view existing PDF files and to produce your own PDF files on RISC OS.


PDFSuite is very easy to install, insert the program CD in the drive, click the CD icon and after a few seconds you should see the following window appear.

The contents of the PDFsuite CD

Let's start with a quick tour of the contents:

  • !PDFInst, this is the program installation application.
  • 'Example' is an example PDF file.
  • 'GS' is a collection of Ghostscript files.
  • 'GVIEW' directory contains the application !GView.
  • 'Manual' is the program manual.
  • 'PDF' contains the application !PDF and it's source code, the 'Readme' textfile contains help, information and advice.
  • finally there is a datafile called 'V1/06' (version number data?). I have no idea what this actually does.

Now we are ready to begin the installation, double clicking on !PDFInst, brings up the following dialogue:

The PDFsuite installation window

This is pretty much self explanatory, so click on install and after a few minutes the suite of programs will be installed on your hard disc. At first it looks like nothing has happened, which is what I thought, as there are no obvious new program icons anywhere, but after a machine reboot you will see some new things.

There is now a directory called Printing on the hard disc which contain the RISC OS printing applications, !Fontprint, !PrintEdit, !Printers and the new program !PDFmaker, which we will look at in a minute. Another new addition on the hard disc is a directory called 'PtrBackUp' this is a backup of your printers configuration, which is provided just in case anything goes wrong during the installation.

Let's return to the main !PDFmaker application. If you double click on it a configuration panel will appear, which allows you to configuration PDFmaker's settings. PDFmaker will be running all the time in the background until you click on the 'Quit PDFmaker', all self explanatory really.

The PDFsuite configuration window

So now that the PDF suite fully installed into your computer, you may be wondering what has been installed and where it has been put:

  • !GhostScr is installed in !Boot.Resources.
  • !GView is installed to Boot:^.Utilities (Utilities directory on boot drive).
  • System modules are installed to !System.310.modules if needed.
  • !PDFmkr (sets up paths and icons) is installed to Predesk directory in Choices.Boot (or similar - depends on which version of RISC OS is being used).
  • PDFmaker is updated or installed to the same directory as !Printers, unless !Printers is in ROM in which case it goes in Boot:^.Printing.
  • Printers and Printers2 choices folders are updated with PDFmaker definitions and postscript files.

  • Printing folders has additional PDFmaker definitions installed.

So with all the installation done, let's have a look at what you can do with it.

Viewing PDF files

The application !PDF is used to view PDF files, to view a file simply double click on it and the file will be displayed, as shown in the screen picture below, this is a page from the PDF version of the Iyonix manual.

The numbers at the top indicate the number of pages in this document and what page you are viewing, so for this example the document has 119 pages and we are viewing page 28. The bar to the right of the numbers shows how far into the document you are, quite a way to go with this one. The PDF file screen grabs have been scaled down by 70% for this article.

The Iyonix Manual - Page 28

By clicking the mouse Menu button over the PDF window an options menu will appear, here you can select how the document is displayed, scale the size of it, rotate it round, set logical page numbers for the document are a few of the available options. You can also print the document, and save any page in a variety of different filetypes, such as a drawfile, textfile or postscript file.

Below are a couple of PDF document screengrabs, the first one is from a Doctor Who DVD (K9 & Company to be exact) which shows the Radio Times listing for this program and secondly the title page from a retro games magazine called Retro Revival .

K9 & Company listing from the Radio Times

The cover of Retro Revival magazine issue 1

Printing PDF files

With a PDF file displayed on screen, you can now print it if you wish to do so. It is advised to have your printer drivers loaded before you display the PDF file to prevent complications (what they maybe I don't know - the manual just advises it!) so load up !Printers and you will notice the icon is different, there is an extra icon next to the standard !Printers icon.

As mentioned before, click the menu mouse button over the PDF display window and highlight the Misc option then move across to the next menu and select the "Print" option, a print configuration box will appear.

This is an important screen as it will determine how the printed file will look, you can select single or double sided sheet printing, or as a pamphlet and also the number of copies. If you click on the Setup button there are further configuration options to be found such as print as landscape, use margins or scale to fit.

When everything is set up as you want it, click on print and the file will now print. You will notice that the new icon next to the printers application icon has now to changed to indicate the PDF file is about to be printed.

Editing PDF files

In order to edit a PDF file, you need to change the format from PDF to Drawfile, so when you have your PDF file displayed, again click the mouse menu button, highlight the save option, move across to the next menu and highlight the "Page as drawfile" option, then move across again and save window with a drawfile icon will appear, rename the file (probably best to) and then drag the file to required directory.

Now double click on your newly created drawfile and it will now load into !Draw, and now you can proceed to edit the file, when you have finished editing the file, resave it as normal and then using PDFmaker you can turn the file back into a PDF.

Creating PDF files

To create a PDF file from the drawfile, or indeed almost any other application, click the mouse menu button to open the application's menu, then click on the 'Print' option. A print window will appear, it should say "PDFMaker" at the top of this small window. You can also select the number of copies, which seems odd for a PDF document. Once you click on 'Print' there will be a short delay, then you should see the following panel appear.

Creating a PDF

To create your PDF file simply give it a filename and then drag the PDF logo across to the required filer window and after some time your document will now be converted to PDF format, it's a quick and simple process. There are a number of advanced options available which include how the file is compressed, font information in the file, and you can also password protect the file to prevent unauthorised changes.

When it is done it will give you the option to see the finished article straight away, the time taken for PDF file creation varies with the size of the file, so if it is a large file be prepared for a bit of wait.


So there you have it, a quick guide of the PDFsuite, how to view, print, edit and make PDF files on RISC OS, there is more to this program with a number of advanced options and configurations, but for the purpose of this article I have just stuck to the basic operations.

In summary then I would say that if you have any interest in using PDF files on a RISC OS computer then PDFsuite is certainly worth looking at. For more details see the following webpage / As a final note it's worth me pointing out that all most (if not all) of the applications provided are available for 'free' download from a number of sites. What you are paying for is support and ease of use. If you feel happy to got it alone with PDFs then PDFMaker isn't really for you. If you would like to have everything set up for you and to know that there is someone at the end of the phone you can ask then £20.00 may well prove to be a good investment.

Product details

Product: PDF Maker
Supplier: RComp
Price: £20.00
Address: 22 Robert Moffat High Legh Knutsford Cheshire WA16 6PS
Tel: 01925 755043

Matt Thompson