Geertjan's Blog

  • March 11, 2009

OpenOffice Opens PDF!

Geertjan Wielenga
Product Manager
Let's say you're me and you find yourself frequently creating presentations. But you tend to lose one or other of the OpenOffice document or the PDF document (seldom both, like socks, so you end up with the PDF document on its own, like a relatively useless odd sock). Plus, whether or not you lose one, isn't it a pain that you've got to do everything in two formats... first in OpenOffice and then in PDF? And then you need to store both documents, even though they have the same content, just outputed differently.

Now, let's try OpenOffice.org 3.0, together with Sun PDF Import Extension [Beta]. Guess what? You can now open PDF documents and edit them and save them:

Another use case is where you're doing a presentation using someone else's slides created months ago, with the original source document having gone missing. Literally, the only things you need to change are (1) the name of the presenter and (2) the date. So, typically, since you can't change the PDF at all, you simply perform a workaround by not showing the first slide (and you hope no one notices the date in the footer that is consistently wrong, slide after slide). Now, however, you're able to tweak the PDF! Change the name on the first slide and it's as if you wrote the whole presentation yourself, this morning, rather than having recycled it from some other presenter who created it three months ago and then lost the original OpenOffice document. (Personally, I can't imagine this scenario happening to me, of course. It's purely hypothetical and it was a strain to even come up with it, being as it is so far removed from my own experience!)

Plus, there's also a concept of hybrid PDFs: "Combine the viewing and printing portability of a PDF with the editing capabilities of OpenDocument Format. 'Have your cake and eat it too,' promises ODF embedded in PDF."


Clayton Cornell, from the OpenOffice team, who I met this evening in Prague, told me about all this and so I had to download OpenOffice and get all this working right away. And it was really easy. Just download and install it and then add the plugin via the Extension Manager under the Tools menu. Seriously, this is cool.

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Comments ( 5 )
  • Casper Wednesday, March 11, 2009

    Is it based on Sun's PDF-renderer that Josh Marrinacci helped open source about a year ago?

  • jkilgrow Thursday, March 12, 2009

    nice! however, according to the SUN PDF Import Extension site:

    "This is just a beta version and it requires the OpenOffice.org 3.0 beta 2 to work."

    So if you are limited to a previous version of OpenOffice, you are out of luck.

  • Geertjan Thursday, March 12, 2009

    @Casper, don't know the answer to that. @jkilgrow, yes, that's how new features work. Typically new features are created for new releases.

  • Clayton Cornell Thursday, March 12, 2009

    @jkilgrow: The line about OOo 3.0 Beta 2 is out of date... it should be updated to simply say OOo3.0 or higher. It is a new extension using new features of OOo.

  • jiai Saturday, March 14, 2009

    It's really a beta, every second PDF I tried crashed OOo. :-(

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