Acumen Training

Acumen Journal

The Acumen Journal is a free periodic technical publication in PDF format for customers and friends of Acumen Training.

As is true of all of this website, the Journal articles are here as an un-updated archive. As the issues' dates suggest, I haven't done anything with these since 2013 and will not be adding to or modifying the collection.

That said, if you are one of the select few on the planet who would find these useful, helf yourself! They're still free for the downloading!


Each issue of the Journal has two articles, one each on PostScript and Acrobat:

PostScript Tech is an article on some aspect of PostScript programming.
Acrobat User is an article on the advanced use of some part of Acrobat.

These are best viewed with Adobe Reader 7 or later, though they can be opened with Acrobat 5 or later. If you somehow don’t yet have Adobe Reader, you can get it here.

August 2013 (Current)
Issue 68

The Acrobat User - Signing Documents in Acrobat XI
Adobe has made it easy to sign PDF documents without having to do any work ahead of time; you no longer need a certificate or other complicated preparation.
PostScript Tech - Deep Copying PostScript Objects
The dup operator, when applied to a string, array, or other composite object, just makes a copy of the reference to the object's actual value. Every once in a while, you need to make a clone of the object that has a separate, though identical, value. Doing it right gives us an opportunity to do some recursive programming.


June 2013
Issue 67

The Acrobat User - The JavaScript Math Object
The JavaScript language implements many of the standard math functions, such as square root, as methods in a predefined Math object class.
PostScript Tech - An Object-Oriented Text Block in PostScript
Although PostScript isn’t properly an object-oriented language, it can be useful to apply object-oriented concepts to your programs, particularly in variable data PostScript applications. This article looks at the implementation of a PostScript TextBlock object.


November 2012
Issue 66

The Acrobat User - A Simple Signature Using flattenPages
The JavaScript Doc object’s flattenPages methods converts annotations, form fields, and links to fixed artwork on the page. You can use this to implement a simple signature mechanism.
PostScript Tech - Variable-Argument Procedures in PostScript
Occasionally, you want a procedure to be able to take optional arguments, perhaps a boolean that defaults to true if you don’t supply it yourself. This month we see how to do this.


July 2012
Issue 65

The Acrobat User - JavaScript Reports
The second in a series of JavaScript articles celebrating the release of the JavaScript book looks at the Report object. This Acrobat JavaScript object lets you create a printable, emailable report document that incorporates any data you choose. You have formatting tools similar to printf; primitive, but surprisingly useful.
PostScript Tech - User Paths
User paths are nearly unknown to most PostScript programmers. They are easy to construct and use and certainly look as though they should be useful.


May 2012
Issue 64

The Acrobat User - The JavaScript Date Object
The first in a series of JavaScript articles celebrating the release of John’s JavaScript book looks at the Date object. This object allows your JavaScripts to determine and display the current date, as well as to perform some date-related arithmetic.
PostScript Tech - Some Miscellany
q Some miscellaneous topics this month. I wanted to discuss three useful PostScript commands and features that are often overlooked even by relatively experienced PostScript programmers: using non-names as dictionary keys, radix notation, and packed arrays.


November 2011
Issue 63

The Acrobat User - Automating Acrobat X with Actions
Each new version of Acrobat changed the way batch processing works, giving them at least a new interface and often new capabilities, as well. Let’s see where things stand in Acrobat X. We’ll make an action that sets up the PDF files I use for the Acumen Journal.
PostScript Tech - Transparency in PostScript Using pdfmark
PostScript implements a strictly opaque imaging model; objects painted on the page completely obscure anything on the page beneath them. That is, unless you are handing your PostScript file to Distiller; in that case your PostScript code can draw translucent objects on the final PDF page using the Distiller-only pdfmark operator.


July 2011
Issue 62

The Acrobat User - Submitting Form Data
Seven times out of ten, is the best way to collect information from users filling out your PDF form. What do you do the other three times? This month we look at creating a Submit button in our form.
PostScript Tech - Logging Diagnostic Information
Debugging PostScript programs has always depended on 1970’s debugging techniques. In the absence of such luxuries as IDEs and source code debuggers, we often end up printing diagnostic strings to stdout. This month, I present the procedures I use to conveniently emit such debugging information.
PDF Nuggets - Short items about the PDF file formats
PDF - PDF Page Tree


March 2011
Issue 61

The Acrobat User - Filling Out Paper Forms with the Typewriter Tool
The Typewriter tool is one of my favorite tools (of quite long standing) in the Acrobat gizmo box. You can use this to fill out those annoying scanned paper forms that the doctors, lawyers, and other professional folks in your life email to you and ask you to fax it back. "Fax it back?" How quaint!
PostScript Tech - Fitting Text to a Specified Width
This comes up periodically for me: I need to print a piece of text in such a way that it exactly fits across a specific width (inside a box, perhaps). Let’s see how to do this.
PDF Nuggets - Short items about the PDF file formats
PDF - PDF Page Tree


September 2010
Issue 60

The Acrobat User - Touching Up Images in Acrobat 9
You can do an astonishing number of things to images on a PDF page using Acrobat 9: scale, flip, move, even replace them with new images.
PostScript Tech - Selecting Paper Trays in PostScript
Surprisingly, there is no way in PostScript to explicitly specify which paper tray a printer should draw from when printing a document. If you want to draw paper from Tray 1, you must do so indirectly, using MediaType.
PDF & XPS Nuggets - Short items about the PDF & XPS file formats
PDF - PDF File Structure
XPS - XPS Parts


July 2010
Issue 59

The Acrobat User - LiveCycle Designer vs Acrobat Form Toolbar
Acrobat’s LiveCycle Designer gives you some nice visual tools to use in creating an Acrobat form. However, the long-standing Form Field toolbar provides much the same capability and ease of use, and produces smaller PDF form documents. Let’s compare the two.
PostScript Tech - Self-modifying Procedures in PostScript
A short one this issue! PostScript procedure bodies are actually arrays. You can use this fact to write procedures that modify their own definitions on-the-fly. This isn’t particularly useful and is certainly not wise; it is weirdly fun, though.
PDF & XPS Nuggets - Short items about the PDF & XPS file formats
PDF - PDF & PostScript Drawing
XPS - XPS On-Disk Packaging


March 2010
Issue 58

The Acrobat User - Changing Calculation Order in Acrobat Forms
By default, form fields in Acrobat are calculated in the order they were created. Sometimes you need to change this order. This month we see how to do this.
PostScript Tech - The arcto and arct Operators
PostScript programmers often overlook these useful operators. They make creating rounded rectangles a breeze!
PDF & XPS Nuggets (New!) - Short items about the PDF & XPS file formats
PDF - PDF is a Text Format
XPS - The XPS Coordinate System


July 2009
Issue 57

The Acrobat User - Fixing Disappearing Hairlines in Acrobat 9
It sometimes happens that a PDf file’s hairlines look perfectly fine on-screen or on a laser printer, but disappear when printed on an imagesetter or a high resolution inkjet printer. Acrobat 9 can fix this problem and in this issue we see how.
PostScript Tech - In-RIP Separations
Modern PostScript RIPs can print spot color or process separations from composite-color PostScript files. In this issue, we see how to invoke this feature.


March 2009
Issue 56

The Acrobat User - Acrobat 9’s Split File Feature
Acrobat 9 can automatically split a PDF file into a series of smaller files according to size, page count, or document chapters. It’s useful and very easy.
PostScript Tech - Comparing PostScript, PDF, & XPS
The Acumen Training XPS class is nearly finished and after months of assembling student notes, overheads, etc., I thought it would be interesting to compare it to its older cousins, PostScript and PDF.


January 2009
Issue 55

The Acrobat User - The Examine Document Feature
Here’s an easily-overlooked feature in Acrobat 8 and 9: Examine Document will report on hidden objects within your your pdf file: bleeding graphics, hidden text, unnecessary metadata. Having found these, it will then conveniently let you remove them from the file.
PostScript Tech - Compressed PostScript
For cases in which storage space or transmission time are at a premium, you can send your PostScript code to the RIP in compressed form.


November 2008
Issue 54

The Acrobat User - PDF Portfolios
Acrobat 9’s portfolio feature is an interesting addition to the software’s capabilities. This allows you to bundle together several files of disparate types into a single package. You have a lot of control over the appearance and behavior of the portfolio and can create quite a nice presentation package with it.
PostScript Tech - Variable Data PostScript Overview
Some of the most interesting PostScript code is written by people who take data from a database and print long runs of individually-tailored documents. This month we’ll look a some of the principles involved in this task.


August 2008
Issue 53

The Acrobat User - Acrobat 9 and
Acrobat 9 is out with a raft of new features. The feature I like the best is not, properly speaking, actually part of the Acrobat 9 software. It’s a new on-line service called, which makes creating and using Acrobat-based forms much, much easier than ever before. Really!
PostScript Tech - Idiom Recognition
This little-used PostScript Level 3 feature allows a printer to automatically replace a program’s old PostScript code with new, sophisticated, Level 3 code. It can also be useful for patching existing code sent to a rip.


June 2008
Issue 52

The Acrobat User - Dictionary Look-Up and Other Text-Select Tool Marvels
Right-clicking with the Text-Select tool yields some remarkably useful commands that are often overlooked (at least by me).
PostScript Tech - Automatic Stroke Adjustment
This feature automatically fixes a hard-to-diagnose rendering problem associated with hairlines. You just have to know to turn it on!


January 2008
Issue 51

The Acrobat User - Trapping in Acrobat 8
Trapping is a purposeful overlap built into abutting blocks of color to accommodate the stretching and shifting of paper as it moves through a printing press. Acrobat can automatically add trapping to a PDF file at print time. This month we see how to use this feature.
PostScript Tech - PostScript and PDF: a Comparison
A commonly-encountered misconception is that PDF is a subset, superset, or other flavor of PostScript. This is not so and this month’s article will briefly compare the two file formats.


September 2007
Issue 50

The Acrobat User - (JavaScript) Creating a "Print-Only" Document
I once needed to send a former student a PDF document that they could print, but not keep in electronic form (that is, as the original PDF file). This issue examines an implementation of a "read-once-print-once" PDF file. It uses JavaScript to do its magic.
PostScript Tech - The imagemask Operator
This important variant of the image operator is important to the implementation of such things as bitmap fonts and other cases where the background must show through the "white" parts of an image.


July 2007
Issue 49

The Acrobat User - Acrobat 8’s Typewriter Tool
This Acrobat 8 tool seems initially to have no reason for existing. Once you realize what it’s for, however, you find yourself using it more and more until it becomes one of your favorite tools. This issue’s short article discusses how much better your life can become with this tool.
PostScript Tech - Fun & Games With pathforall
The little-used pathforall operator lets you step through the components of the current path, performing an operation on each step. This allows you to do some fun and occasionally very useful things.


April 2007
Issue 48

The Acrobat User - Adding Printer Marks to a Document in Acrobat 8
Acrobat 8 has a useful collection of tools aimed at professional print production. Among the features available through the Print Production Toolbar is the ability to add crop marks and other printer marks to a PDF document.
PostScript Tech - PostScript Resources, Part 2
We continue our discussion of PostScript resources, learning how to store fonts, forms, and other resources on a RIP’s hard disk for use by later PostScript programs.


January 2007
Issue 47

The Acrobat User - Conducting an Email-Based Document Review
Among the improvements in Acrobat 8 is the increased ease with which you can conduct a document review with a stable of reviewers. This issue steps through the process of conducting such a review via email.
PostScript Tech - PostScript Resources, Part I
PostScript resources are puzzling to many programmers. They are easy to create and use, but its not immediately clear why you would want to do so. This article begins a two-part series on how resources work and why they’re exciting.


December 2006
Issue 46

The Acrobat User - Customizing Acrobat 8 Toolbars
Acrobat 8 makes it remarkably simple to add and remove controls from its toolbars. This article demonstrates how to do this.
PostScript Tech - Extracting Text From a PostScript File
In this article, we see how to use redefinitions of PostScript operators to extract text from a PostScript file.


October 2006
Issue 45

The Acrobat User - Acrobat Page Capture
Acrobat’s built-in OCR function allows you to turn a folder of scanned paper documents into selectable, searchable text and graphics.
PostScript Tech - Explicitly Masked Images, Part 2
We conclude last June’s discussion of masked images, this time seeing how to apply the feature to real images. This will entail learning about the ReusableStreamDecode filter.


August 2006
Issue 44

The Acrobat User - Setting Up Form Auto-Completion
As you type text into a PDF form field, Acrobat can suggest entries based on the characters you have typed so far. This issue, we see how to turn this feature on.
PostScript Tech - Creating Text Styles With makefont
This month’s very short article discusses how to use the makefont operator to create font styles, such as condensed, oblique, and subscript.


June 2006
Issue 43

The Acrobat User - Page Actions
A Page Action automatically triggers when a particular page in your PDF file opens. They are easy to create, although the means of doing so has been somewhat hidden since Acrobat 6.
PostScript Tech - Explicitly Masked Images, Part 1
PostScript languagelevel 3 introduced the ability of images to include a 1-bit mask that indicates what parts of the image should be painted.


April 2006
Issue 42

The Acrobat User - PDF/X and PDF/A
Unnecessary mystery surrounds these cgats standards. They are really just normal PDF files that agree to certain restrictions.
PostScript Tech - Global VM
Global VM is a part of virtual memory that is not subject to the save and restore operators. Why would you ever want to bypass these important memory management operators? This month we’ll see.


January 2006
Issue 41

The Acrobat User - JavaScript: "All/None-of-the-above" checkboxes
Many questionnaires have items that require "All of the above" and "None of the above" responses. This month we shall see how to program interactive versions of these as Acrobat checkboxes.
PostScript Tech - Setting text with a PrintParagraph routine
We do basic text layout with a procedure that takes a string of text and prints its contents between specified left and right margins.


September 2005
Issue 40

The Acrobat User - JavaScript: Adding Menu Items to Acrobat
The Acrobat JavaScript interface allows us to add items to the various menus in Adobe Acrobat. To demonstrate, we’ll add a "Flatten pages" command to the Document menu.
PostScript Tech - Drawing Dotted Lines with setlinecap and setdash
PostScript allows us to stroke paths with a dashed line, but does not give us direct support for dotted lines, made up of little round dots. This month we look at an easy, but unobvious, trick for producing dotted lines.


June 2005
Issue 39

The Acrobat User - Locking Form Fields & Comments With flattenPages
An interesting way of "locking" form fields and comments in a PDF file is to convert them to graphics on the pdf page. Instead of the original form fields, you now have graphic objects that look like the original fields, complete with information.
PostScript Tech - Handling PostScript Errors, Part 2
We continue our examination of how to override PostScript’s reporting of errors. This time, we see how to print an error message on the current page.


April 2005
Issue 38

The Acrobat User - Image Resampling in Acrobat Distiller
Distiller and many other programs that create PDF files allow you to resample the images placed in that file. Most people are vague about what resampling is and how it differs from compression. This month we look at this powerful feature.
PostScript Tech - Handling PostScript Errors, Part 1
The default PostScript error handler typically sends the name of the error and the offending command to the output stream. This month and next, we’ll see how to write our own error handler to report on additional information and print the message to the current page.


January 2005
Issue 37

The Acrobat User - Exporting Form Data to a Spreadsheet in Acrobat 7
Acrobat 7 lets you convert a set of fdf form data files into a single, comma-delimited file that may be imported into your favorite spreadsheet. This is a great aid for those who don’t have (or want) server-side processing software.
PostScript Tech - A Bulletproof Minimum Linewidth
People who work with driver output may need to impose a minimum linewidth so that hairlines don’t disappear. This is relatively easy to do, but making it work regardless of the current state of User Space is a little tricky; we shall use the rarely-seen dtransform operator.


November 2004
Issue 36

The Acrobat User - JavaScript: Creating a Nagware Document, Part 2
This month we finish the nagware document we started in the previous issue. This Acrobat document periodically asks the user for payment, eventually rendering itself unreadable if the user doesn’t type in a serial number.
PostScript Tech - Using EPS Files in Handwritten PostScript Code
People who do variable data printing frequently do so with handwritten PostScript code. Encapsulated PostScript files provide a very convenient way to include in these files logos and other graphics created in applications such as Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop.


September 2004
Issue 35

The Acrobat User - JavaScript: Creating a Nagware Document, Part 1
This month and next, we create a PDF-based shareware document that repeatedly asks for money. If ignored, the document becomes increasingly strident, eventually rendering itself unreadable.
PostScript Tech - Colorizing Images with Separation and DeviceN
This month we present a useful, though little-known technique, using the Separation and DeviceN colorspaces to modify image colors. Among other things, this lets us simulate printing images against a colored background.


August 2004
Issue 34

The Acrobat User - JavaScript: The Acrobat global object
The Acrobat JavaScript global object allows your Acrobat form to retain information across Acrobat sessiona. It also allows you to pass information from one form to another. This is exactly as vastly useful as it sound.
PostScript Tech - Color Key Image Masking
PostScript Level 3 introduced the ability to specify that certain colors within an image should not be painted. This can make it relatively easy to mask out the background of an image, painting only the image’s foreground subject.


June 2004
Issue 33

The Acrobat User - Acrobat 6 Layers and Forms
Acrobat 6 has added support for Layers in PDF files. This allows the easy, wholesale hiding and revealing of buttons and other features on a PDF page. This month we see how to manipulate these layers in an Acrobat form.
PostScript Tech - Binary Tokens
A PostScript program usually consists of a stream of ASCII characters. However, PostScript also has a little-known binary version in which numbers and names are represented as a stream of binary values. This can greatly reduce PostScript file size.


March 2004
Issue 32

The Acrobat User - Preflighting, Part 2: Making Preflight Profiles
Last issue, we saw how to use the Acrobat 6 Preflight feature. This month, we see how to tailor this feature to our specific needs by creating a preflight profile.
PostScript Tech - CID-Keyed Fonts: a Primer
In modern PostScript, multi-byte fonts are implemented as something called CID-keyed fonts. This month, we shall look at CIDFont resources, CMaps, and the other components that go into using a CID-keyed font.


February 2004
Issue 31

The Acrobat User - Acrobat 6 Preflighting, Part 1
Acrobat 6 introduced a built-in preflight feature that can give you a great deal of information about your PDF files and help you avoid problems. In this first part, we see how to run a preflight session and interpret its results.
PostScript Tech - Setpagedevice and Mysteriously Blank Pages
The setpagedevice operator is PostScript’s hook into printer-specific features. It brought a much-needed consistency to PostScript Level 2. It also introduced a rare but very strange problem in some files: pages that unaccountably print blank.


December 2003
Issue 30

The Acrobat User - JavaScripter: The Acrobat 6 Thermometer Object
Acrobat 6 added a new user interface object to JavaScript: the Thermometer object. You can use this object to display the progress of a long process and is quite easy to use.
PostScript Tech - String Concatenation and NullEncode
String concatenation is remarkably awkward in PostScript, because there is no built-in support for this action in the language. This month we shall look at a procedure that does this using the NullEncode filter, of all things.


November 2003
Issue 29

The Acrobat User - Creating Your Own Rubber Stamp Annotation
One of the improvements in Acrobat 6 is that it is much easier to make your own rubber stamp annotations. This month, we make a "Nyah-Nyah" annotation.
PostScript Tech - A Name Lookup Procedure
This month we look at a procedure that takes a PostScript object as its argument, looks the object up in the dictionary stack, and returns the name of the object on the operand stack. Along the way, we’ll see an uncommon use for the stopped operator.



August 2003
Issue 28

The Acrobat User - Acrobat 6 Zoom Tools
Acrobat 6 and Adobe Reader introduce a couple of handy tools for conveniently zooming in on parts of a PDF document. These include a nicely implemented Loupe tool.
PostScript Tech - Transfer Functions
The PostScript transfer function is the mechanism by which a printer manufacturer accommodates the printing characterstics of a particular device. You can change this function to accomplish an number of special printing effects.


July 2003
Issue 27

The Acrobat User - Acrobat 6 Pro’s JavaScript Debugger
Acrobat 6 Pro introduces a debugger for working with JavaScripts. Similar to debuggers in other programming environments, this new tool is extremely useful to understanding how a script works and tracking down errors.
PostScript Tech - Fully Justified Text in PostScript
This month we shall see how to carry out a common typographic task in PostScript: setting fully justified text. This will give us an excuse to discuss the search operator.


June 2003
Issue 26

The Acrobat User - Acrobat 6 Form Tools
Acrobat 6 has overhauled the user interface associated with making form fields. This month we look at what’s new in making forms in the new Acrobat.
PostScript Tech - Recursive Programming in PostScript
Recursive algorithms can be addictive, once you get the hang of it. Many of these algorithms are graphical, making PostScript an excellent language for implementing them.


May 2003
Issue 25

The Acrobat User - JavaScripter: Creating a Blinking Button
This month introduces The JavaScripter: an occasional series of articles on using JavaScript in Acrobat. Our first article describes how to make a button that blinks. The technique applies to a variety of animation effects.
PostScript Tech - A PostScript Profiler (Sort of)
We create a PostScript header that, when placed in front of another piece of PostScript, counts the number of times each PostScript operator is executed. This gives us an excuse to see how to do a mass redefinition of PostScript operators.


March-April 2003
Issue 24

The Acrobat User - Acrobat Spell Checking
Acrobat has a seldom-used spelling checker that can examine the contents of text fields and annotations. It is easy to use and easy to integrate into a form’s user interface.
PostScript Tech - The Miter Limit
This mildly obscure PostScript parameter does not sound like something to which you would ever need to pay attention. Surprisingly, under some circumstances it can solve an otherwise intractable visual problem.


February 2003
Issue 23

The Acrobat User - Batch Processing in Acrobat
Acrobat has a quite useful, often overlooked batch processing ability that lets you apply a set of actions to the one or more PDF files. This month, we’ll see how to use it.
PostScript Tech - Using Images in a PostScript Form, Part 3
We finish our three-part series on incorporating images into a PostScript form. Our final installment describes a technique that will work on any Level 2 printer.


January 2003
Issue 22

The Acrobat User - Password Protecting Acrobat Files
A simple topic this month, but useful. We’ll see how to add a password to limit the access readers have to your Acrobat files.
PostScript Tech - Using Images in a PostScript Form, Part 2
We continue last month’s topic: how to incorporate images into a PostScript form. This month, we look at using the ReuseableStreamDecode filter.


December 2002
Issue 21

The Acrobat User - Roll-Over Help, JavaScript Version
Last month, we saw how to implement roll-over help using the "Show-Hide" field action. This month, we’ll see another way of doing roll-over help that is more efficient if you have many form fields on a page that need help.
PostScript Tech - Using Images in a PostScript Form, Part 1
This month we start a two-part article discussing how to use images in a PostScript form. A form’s PaintProc cannot usefully read the input stream, so how do you embed the image data in the form? We’ll see how this month.


November 2002
Issue 20

The Acrobat User - Roll-Over Help
Acrobat supplies automatic support for "tool-tip" help for form fields. A common alternative to tool-tip help is "roll-over" help that appears as soon as the mouse moves over a control. This month we’ll see one way of implementing this in Acrobat.
PostScript Tech - Text Along an Arc
Something fun this month: we’ll look at one method of printing text along an arc. Along the way, we’ll discuss a bit about the nature of PostScript procedures.


September 2002
Issue 19

The Acrobat User - Automatically Checking the Acrobat Version
Each version of Acrobat has added features that you may wish to use in your documents. How do you ensure that the person reading your file has a sufficiently-modern version of Acrobat? This month we see how to do this.
PostScript Tech - Converting PFB Files to PostScript
It is easy to convert Windows-style font files to PostScript that may be embedded in another PostScript file or downloaded to a printer.


July 2002
Issue 18

The Acrobat User - Embedding Arbitrary Data in PDF Files
Among Acrobat’s least-used features is the ability to embed spreadsheets, Quark documents, Words files, and any other kind of data in an Acrobat document.
PostScript Tech - Isolating PostScript Errors With SubFileDecode
Continuing last month’s discussion, we use the SubFileDecode filter to limit the effect of PostScript errors. A PostScript error need not kill the remainder of the print job.


June 2002
Issue 17

The Acrobat User - Avoiding Font Problems with Document Fonts
The Acrobat Document Fonts dialog box supplies information that lets you head off common font problems in your PDF files.
PostScript Tech - Skipping Blocks of Code With SubFileDecode
PostScript output often needs to have two different sets of procedure definitions to accommodate, for example, different PostScript languagelevels. This month we look at an efficient way of conditionally skipping large blocks of PostScript code.


May 2002
Issue 16

The Acrobat User - Compression in Acrobat
Many designers believe that compression must inevitably reduce the quality of their PDF artwork. Not so! This month we examine how compression works and how to ensure it has no effect on visual quality.
PostScript Tech - Composite Fonts
Originally introduced as support for Kanji, composite fonts are incredibly useful for printing Roman text.


April 2002
Issue 15

The Acrobat User - Combining Multiple PostScript Files Into a Single PDF File
Acrobat Distiller implements a special-purpose PostScript command you can use to combine several PostScript files into a single PDF file.
PostScript Tech - Making an Outline Font
This month we see how to turn any Type 1 font into an outline font. The show operator will print outlined text in that font. There’s also a mailbag entry about more uses for the double-slash.


February 2002
Issue 14

The Acrobat User - Acrobat "WebLinks"
Adobe Acrobat can automatically scan your PDF file and add links to web locations anywhere a recognizable URL appears in text.
PostScript Tech - Early Name Lookup With //Double Slash
PostScript has a little-used double-slash delimiter that lets you do define-time name lookup of constants within procedures. This month we’ll see how to use this to reduce name lookup at execution time.


January 2002
Issue 13

The Acrobat User - Acrobat 5 Hairlines, Revisited
Last September, we discussed a fix for the too-thick hairlines displayed by Acrobat 5. Since then, several people have pointed out cases where our fix doesn’t work (Microsoft Word, for example). This month, we extend our fix to include some of the exceptions.
PostScript Tech - Saving PostScript Code to Disk
Rather than repeatedly transmitting EPS files or other often-used PostScript code, you can save your PostScript code to the rip’s disk and execute it from there. This month we’ll see how to do this.


December 2001
Issue 12

The Acrobat User - "Document Open" Properties
Acrobat gives you quite a bit of control over what a PDF file should look like when it is first opened. You can hide tool bars and menus, center the document on the screen, and control the initial window view. Let’s see how to do this.
PostScript Tech - Reencoding Fonts, Part 2
Last month, we learned the basics of adding characters to a font’s Encoding array. This month, we’ll look at a more efficient technique that lets us match a font’s encoding to the host computer system.


November 2001
Issue 11

The Acrobat User - Acrobat Signatures, Part 2
One of Acrobat’s more interesting features is support for digital signatures. This month, we finish a two-part series in how to use this feature.
PostScript Tech - Reencoding Fonts, Part 1
This is the first of a two-part series on how to print the accented and other "unencoded" characters in a PostScript font. This month we’ll see the basics; in December, we’ll look at a more efficient technique appropriate to driver output.


October 2001
Issue 10

The Acrobat User - Acrobat Signatures, Part 1
One of Acrobat’s more interesting features is support for digital signatures. This month, we start a two-part series in how to use this feature.
PostScript Tech - Centering Text Vertically
This month we’ll look at a perennial favorite: how to center text vertically. Along the way, we’ll take a look at some otherwise seldom-used operators, pathbbox and flattenpath.


September 2001
Issue 9

The Acrobat User - Fixing Acrobat 5’s Line Widths
Acrobat 5 tends to draw lines too thick, compared to Acrobat 4. This month we’ll see how to fix this.
PostScript Tech - Changing Character Widths with a Metrics Dictionary
PostScript provides a little-used mechanism for overriding the character widths in a font. By providing a dictionary named Metrics, you can specify your own character widths.


July 2001
Issue 8

The Acrobat User - Converting Blends to Smooth Shading
Distiller can convert blends in QuarkXpress, Illustrator, CorelDraw, and Freehand documents into PDF’s own native "Smooth Shading" format, which is fast, compact, and extremely good looking. Here we see how to turn this feature on.
PostScript Tech - BeginPage and EndPage
These two procedures are amazingly useful. With them, you can do everything from add a watermark to print n-up. Let’s see how they work and use them to do 2-up printing.


June 2001
Issue 7

The Acrobat User - Creating Your Own Rubber Stamp Annotations
Among Acrobat’s annotations types is "Rubber Stamp," which lets you place a picture on the page as an annotation. This month we’ll see how to add our own pictures to the predefined stamps supplied by Adobe.
PostScript Tech - Adding Characters to a Type 1 Font
This month we answer a common question: how do you add a character to a Type 1 font?


May 2001
Issue 6

The Acrobat User - Making PostScript for PDF, Part 2
We conclude our pair of articles on how to make PostScript files for conversion to PDF with Distiller, PDF Creator, etc. This month we’ll discuss printer driver settings for Microsoft Windows.
PostScript Tech - Making eexec-encrypted PostScript Files
The PostScript eexec operator executes encrypted PostScript. It can be used to hide your PostScript code from casual inquiry. This month we discuss the eexec encryption algorithm and present C code that converts a PostScript file into an encrypted PostScript file suitable for handing to eexec.


April 2001
Issue 5

The Acrobat User - Making PostScript for PDF
Behind most professional-grade PDF files is a PostScript file. What settings should you pick in the Macintosh and Windows Print dialog boxes when you make a Distiller-bound PostScript file? We’ll do Macintosh this month and Windows next.
PostScript Tech - Case Statements in PostScript
Because PostScript has no case construct, many PostScript programs contain ugly, nested ifelse’s. You can replace these with an elegant case-equivalent using dictionaries.


March 2001
Issue 4

The Acrobat User - Electronic Mark-up and Review
Passing a PDf document around for comment? This month we review the specialized tools Acrobat provides for this purpose and examine some of their less-known properties.
PostScript Tech - Concatenating PostScript Files
Combining several PostScript files into a single file is a perennial problem for many people. Turns out to be pretty easy, especially if you have a Level 2 printer.


February 2001
Issue 3

The Acrobat User - Convert Web Sites to PDF With Web Capture
Web Capture is an Acrobat Feature that allows you to convert a web page or an entire web site to a PDF file with images, artwork, and links intact.
PostScript Tech - Programming Acrobat with pdfmark (Part 2)
This article adds to the December article, showing you how to insert pdfmark calls into documents created with QuarkXpress, PageMaker, or any application that imports EPS files. When you convert those documents to PDF, they have bookmarks and links already in place!


December 2000
Issue 2

The Acrobat User - Improving PDF Readability with Articles
When converting a printed document to PDF, you can greatly improve the file’s readability by using an underused feature called Articles. Here we see how to create these.
PostScript Tech - Programming Acrobat with pdfmark (Part 1)
How to programatically create bookmarks, links, and a host of other items within a PostScript file. We introduce pdfmark and see how to use it within QuarkXpress and other software.


November 2000
Issue 1

The Acrobat User - Making Searchable PDF Files with Acrobat Catalog
Adobe Acrobat ships with a little-used utility that lets you make a searchable index of a Issue of PDF files. Here we see how to use this utility.
PostScript Tech - A Taste of Smooth Shading
This is one of PostScript LanguageLevel 3’s most splashy features: language-level support for gradients. We do some simple smooth shading programming by way of an introduction.

Mailing List

If you would like to be added to the Acumen Journal mailing list, click here. You’ll be notified whenever a new issue becomes available.

Comments? Suggestions?

If you have any comments or questions about PostScript or Acrobat, or suggestions for future Journal articles, feel free to contact John at Acumen Training.