You can make PDF files from more or less any document. There are 4 ways to do this:
- Some applications can use PDF as their native file format: you can save files as PDF files, open and edit them again.
- A number of applications feature an ‘export to PDF’ kind of function. This is either a menu option in the “File” menu or accessible through a button in the toolbar.
- There are a number of tools on the market that can convert a print-file (usually a PostScript file) or a native file to a PDF file.
- Use an on-line tool that converts a document to a PDF.
The chapters below look at these 4 options in more detail.
PDF as the native file format
There aren’t that many applications yet that can use PDF as their native file format. I think all of the existing ones actually use a trick to do this: they embed their native file format as metadata in a PDF file. The only applications that I am aware of that can use PDF as their native file format are Adobe applications such as Illustrator or Photoshop next to some PDF editors (which obviously use PDF as their native file format).
Export to PDF
A number of application have built-in support for exporting PDF files. The list of applications is too long, so I’ll just mention some of the most important ones:
- Virtually all Adobe applications
- Most illustration programs such as Corel Draw
There is software on the market that installs such an “Export to PDF” menu option or button in applications.
- Adobe Acrobat Professional adds PDF capabilities to other applications such as Microsoft Office and AutoCAD.
There are a number of development tools or libraries available that allow programmers to embed a function to create PDF files. If you are a programmer, it may be worthwhile to take a look at:
- PDFlib from Thomas Mertz.
- ReportLab, an open source PDF generator for Python scripts.