A Portable Document Format (pdf) file is a self-contained cross-platform
document. In plain language, it is a file that will look the same on the
screen and in print, regardless of what kind of computer or printer
someone is using and regardless of what software package was originally
used to create it.
An important part of the format is its portability. In order to ensure
portability not only between different operating systems, but also a wide
variety of readers, we would encourage you to try to make use of a wide
variety of tools. By encouraging the use of many different PDF
generators and readers, we are ensuring that the PDF format remains
Here is a quick list of PDF readers, with a number of other links
- Ghostscript, Ghostview and
GSview (Variety of Software licenses, with some tools are under the
GNU General Public License)
This includes a class of tools that can view PostScript and PDF
files. Most tools available for Microsoft Windows, Macintosh, and most
flavors of Unix. This tool is normally pre-installed with most Linux
distributions. Enabling this viewer for Web-usage involves configuring
ones browser if this was not already done by the OS distribution vendor.
- Xpdf (GNU General Public
Xpdf is a viewer for Portable Document Format (PDF) files. (These
are also sometimes also called 'Acrobat' files, from the name of Adobe's
PDF software.) Xpdf runs under the X Window System on UNIX, VMS, and OS/2.
The non-X components of the package (pdftops, pdftotext, etc.) also run on
Win32 systems and should run on pretty much any system with a decent C++
BePDF is a program based on
Xpdf that runs on BeOS.
Acrobat Reader (Proprietary,
with this End User License Agreement)
Adobe Acrobat Reader is software you can download for free
that lets you view and print Adobe Portable Document Format (PDF) files.
Available for Microsoft Windows, Apple Macintosh, and some versions of
UNIX and Linux.
Related links and Utilities
Note: This set of links was started from the list published on Xpdf site. If you know
of any other tools I should be providing a link to, please contact me.
- General PDF Support Sites for all platforms
- PDF converters/generators:
- PDF format info:
/ PDF technical notes. Adobe created Postscript and PDF, and except
for some patents have released the format for public usage. The patents
are licensed on a royalty-free, non-exclusive basis.
While the easiest and cheapest option to generate PDF files is to use the
productivity suite or other free PDF generation software, the following is
an alternative method. This is a demonstration of how easy it is to
generate a PDF file, without the use of (possibly expensive) tools from
Adobe, with the following example being for Microsoft Windows.
Others have written similar articles, such as Quick Guide to
Making PDF Files - by David Hineline
- create a new 'printer', choosing a postscript printer driver. One
example of a Postscript printer that works would be a "HP 5P/5MP". You
can skip this if the printer you normally use is a postscript printer.
- print from the relevant Application, choosing this new printer. In the
print dialog there is an option 'save to disk'. Save the file - it will be
marked either .ps for simple postscript or .eps for encapsulated
postscript, depending on the postscript printer driver.
- download gsview and
ghostscript. This is Free Software (Free as in speech and free beer)
- load the postscript file in gsview, and convert to PDF
- view new PDF in favorite PDF viewer, and/or publish on website to
automatically come up in correct plug-in.
$Date: 2004/02/11 17:57:52 $