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Overwrite with 'Convert to PDF/A'

Posted: Wed Feb 15, 2017 8:55 am
by PieterSO
We want to convert our pdffiles to monochrome.
The 'Convert to PDF/A' can perform this task.
But it is not possible to overwrite the file, to keep the same name.
The other tools doesn't seem to have this issue.

Is this intended? Or are we missing an option?

Pieter

Re: Overwrite with 'Convert to PDF/A'

Posted: Wed Feb 15, 2017 1:30 pm
by Tracker Supp-Stefan
Hello Pieter,

I will have to ask our devs if this is intentional, but most likely it is - as PDF/A files are for long term preservation, and some information could be discarded/no longer available after the conversion - so that is why we keep both copies.
In the mean time - can you try to e.g. store the files in an alternative folder so that you can e.g. preserve the files structure and then just remove the original files, and keep the new ones.

Regards,
Stefan

Re: Overwrite with 'Convert to PDF/A'

Posted: Mon Mar 18, 2019 8:00 am
by adamlogan
I was just trying to do this since no other preset action/tool had a straightforward way to do this and came across a similar if not the same exact problem, for me, the PDF does not get converted to black and white when converting to PDF/A, whether I overwrite the original or if I give the output pdf a new original name that does not conflict with any other files in the working directory. Keep in mind I put in an action Discard Special PDF-Standard before Convert to PDF/A to ensure that any file I feed would get converted to monochrome.

I would love it if there were a category of tools in pdf-tools to deal with color conversions without having to do a long round-about process of exporting to images from pdf and then turning images back into PDF. I'm surprised a color conversion category isn't front and center with presets considering all the other things pdf-tools can do. I initially looked under optimize and enhance presets for this function just so you guys know what the experience is like for new tech-savvy end users like me and where we go looking first.

Re: Overwrite with 'Convert to PDF/A'

Posted: Mon Mar 18, 2019 3:31 pm
by Tracker Supp-Stefan
Hello adamlogan,

Can you please export the tool you are creating and share it with us?
I'd like to see which operations you are trying to perform on files, and why do you think that colours should disappear?

Also - is it really necessary for you to remove the colours, or is it that you were just expecting this to happen and it does not?

Regards,
Stefan

Re: Overwrite with 'Convert to PDF/A'

Posted: Wed Mar 20, 2019 6:07 am
by adamlogan
Here's my personal 1bit monochrome pdftools workflows. The one with name ending with 600DPI works, the one ending with PDF/A does not work as I expect it to.
adamloganpersonal1bitmonochromepdftools.zip
(3.23 KiB) Downloaded 42 times

Last night my workflows started with trying to use the pdf/A workflows. When that dead-ended for me, I switched to building a more elaborate export images from pdf and then creating a pdf from the images workflow. I wasn't able to get anything working the way I was hoping to yesterday.

With a fresh mind today I got somewhere and figured out a few problems.

I enabled Batch Processing Mode. Uncertain if this made or broke what I was trying to do last night, but it seems to work today when I turned it on. I have yet to test with multiple input files or what would happen with the pdf to image back to pdf workflow, my guess is this option would make a huge difference, resulting in either one massive final output pdf containing all input pdfs, or one output pdf for each input pdf. I'll figure this out pretty soon here, but not that important for my immediate aim.

One was resolution, for some reason, workflows fail when trying to export at resolutions above 600 DPI. Or maybe the job was taking so long and the percentage calculator isn't clearly verbose enough to indicate that the application is working rather than appearing to be hung up that I stopped the job before it could complete the very long task it was working on. If that's the case though, it shouldn't take that long. For now, 600 DPI is about as much patience as I can afford to process one simple count-the-pages-on-my-fingers size color pdf file.

The other was the "choose color depth automatically" option was enabled, when saving images (doing the more elaborate export to image/ import to pdf workflow). The workflow now works as expected now that I disabled that option. There will be times that I want a higher resolution in grayscale or monochrome for better fidelity though.

With these changes I have a working workflow for converting pdfs to 1-bit monochrome pdfs with cleaned up backgrounds. Huzzah.

For the PDF/A route, I took another try at that today after figuring out how to get things done the pdf > images > pdf route. When I do it this way I'm getting more than 1-bit grayscale images, not black and white as the name of the color profile "black and white" implies, I think the name should be changed to grayscale to prevent confusion and wasted time, black and white and grayscale are different things. The PDF/A workflow is inappropriate for my goal of color to 1 bit mono b/w conversion and doesn't work anyway, so I've deleted the corresponding workflow experimenting with this approach.

The pdf > images > pdf route will do what I want for now with the caveat that it's painfully slow although I have to include here that I am running pdftools in a resource-limited windows 10 virtual machine on a Mac host, so the fault may not be on pdftools for the speed. Still, I hope you guys can improve on that. I get the sense I will have to look into command line solutions if I ever really need to do serious batch jobs with more than ten something pdfs at a time :/.

Reasoning:
For most record type of pdfs that I scan, I want small files that will conserve ink and print clearly on just about any printer if I should send it to somebody or have a need to print a copy for myself, be easy to photocopy etc. Monochrome Black & White is the universal holy grail for output for most mundane pdfs. I do need to do grayscale every and now and then due to badly designed color schemes or documents with images that are important, and sometimes I do like a color that has cleaned up background and brightened palletized colors, in which case I'll run it through software like ABBY Fine Reader, but it's not often that I need that. 1 bit Monochrome B&W is the primary output I rely on for archival of most document records.

I vocally request a whole new category of workflows to focus on color conversions and optimizations, or additions to the optimization category to include these tools.

Re: Overwrite with 'Convert to PDF/A'

Posted: Wed Mar 20, 2019 1:51 pm
by Tracker Supp-Stefan
Hello adamlogan,

Thanks for the attachment and the detailed descriptions.
With the first tool - you go through rasterizing the original files and making them monochrome in the process.
With the second - converting to PDF/A - you do not have those steps - and as such - colours for e.g. vector objects will be preserved. That's why you don't get completely B&W files.

Regards,
Stefan

Re: Overwrite with 'Convert to PDF/A'

Posted: Wed Mar 20, 2019 3:41 pm
by adamlogan
The main takeaway I wanted to get across is that there’s no straight-forward user friendly way to convert colors in a pdf using pdftools. Export to image is hardly what most people are going to look for. Most will look around, oh, no color conversion options, this software has a huge gap in functionality *moves on*. The workflow I put together felt like a workaround rather than using tools specifically designed to convert or alter colors.

The source pdf file I made copies of to experiment and test the workflows is a pdf file from my scanner, a Fujitsu ScanSnap IX 500. So, a bitmap embedded in a pdf. I understand a pdf can have multiple images & files within, each with its own color profile, but it doesn’t make sense to me that a file-wide level color option wouldn’t force all images within to comply with the chosen color profile. Where are the color profile conversion options as in adobe photoshop? Colorimetric? Perceptual? How about adjusting white & black point, background removal or replacement, border fill, threshold/posterize etc, having these in a tool or category of tools would be hugely helpful.

These options are absent from this otherwise awesome software package of tools.

Re: Overwrite with 'Convert to PDF/A'

Posted: Wed Mar 20, 2019 4:59 pm
by TrackerSupp-Daniel
Hello Adamlogan,

We understand what you are saying here, however it is unlikely that we could offer such a "global color override" function for a specific document. The issue here is that PDF does not particularly allow for a document to have a "color profile overlay". Beyond that, the other software's you have mentioned are not PDF editing software's, they are mostly highly specialized Image editing software.

Attempting to emulate features that specialized applications offer, in a non-specialized environment, would be disastrous in many ways. As you mentioned, many people will look at an application and say "this doesn't have what I need" *moves on*, however if instead we offer a similar, but less capable function they will instead go through the process of "oh this has what I need *makes purchase* wait this isn't as good as I've seen". This would give us significant backlash from the negative comments of all these users who attempted to use PDF software for outright image editing.

Kind regards,

Re: Overwrite with 'Convert to PDF/A'

Posted: Wed Mar 20, 2019 9:23 pm
by adamlogan
I'm not asking you to make a full-blown image editor where you can doodle with a clone tool or a paintbrush. The features I am asking for are within Tracker Software's ability to implement well, and would be highly useful to many. Some pieces to the formation of the new tools are already there. The color conversion function just needs to be improved and expanded on as a new and distinct tool rather than just one of many options in other tools.

It makes sense for Adobe the creator of PDF to neglect the features I mentioned since Photoshop is their flagship product, but Tracker Software would only stand to benefit by having such features. It would easily distinguish your product as the leader amongst those of your competitors.

I hope you will be open-minded enough to submit my request to the company and let them consider it rather than arguing with and blocking a customer's feature request because of your opinion.

Thank you.

Re: Overwrite with 'Convert to PDF/A'

Posted: Wed Mar 20, 2019 10:18 pm
by TrackerSupp-Daniel
Hello Adamlogan,

My apologies if that came across as argumentative, I did not mean it in such a way. I was simply trying to convey the issues that could arise from such a feature if it were to be implemented. This was not my opinion, but a summary of a discussion among our entire support team. Our Development team have certainly considered functions like this in the past, and may consider them once again in the future, however at this time, I cannot provide any guarantees.

Please do not take this as us ignoring your feature request, we certainly have heard your voice, and know that there is much support for functions of the like. Some of the current functions, like "recompress image", and "edit image in default application" are offshoots from us developing requests. The next feature of the sort we are looking towards is the ability to recompress all images in a document at once, which will essentially give you a global "recolor" option (while also reducing file size!). I cannot promise when this feature is coming, but it is already being developed.

All the best,

Re: Overwrite with 'Convert to PDF/A'

Posted: Thu Mar 21, 2019 1:30 am
by adamlogan
I need to apologize too for being such a cantankerous and insistent customer. I'm struggling with pneumonia these days so my patience is a bit short, pardon me. Thank you for your explanation. The possible feature additions you mentioned sound promising.

Something occurred to me last night while trying to sleep (and intermittently coughing all night long) was that ok, maybe another approach to this issue of the gap about image conversions/editing is to make a tool that facilitates the ability to run scripts and command line software from pdftools. This is probably much less useful on Windows than on the Mac, but it was an idea that flared up and died pretty much just now as i realized pdftools is windows not macos. Wah. Ok, well, I'm glad I have a solution that works for my needs right now. I'm subscribed to your newsletter, hopefully, more user-friendly options for color conversions will come down the pipe before long.

Thanks for working with me Daniel, and my apologies to the op for taking this thread off track.

Re: Overwrite with 'Convert to PDF/A'

Posted: Thu Mar 21, 2019 12:48 pm
by Tracker Supp-Stefan
Hello adamlogan,

Wishing you a speedy recovery from the pneumonia!
And I am glad we managed to work out a solution for your current needs - even if not as straight forward as you originally imagined!

Kind Regards,
Stefan