Converting Word Documents (and other types of files) to PDF

Hi everyone,

I’m currently developing a Rails content management system, and one of
the useful features we’re trying to get sorted is a way to allow a
user to upload a word document or some other type of regular file, and
have it converted by the server to PDF.

I’ve seen a java programme called Alfresco do this using Open Office,
but I’m just wondering if there’s another way that’s more integrated
with Ruby?

If anyone knows if bits and pieces of tech already exist in this area
but they just haven’t been brought together in this way yet, I’d be
keen to learn the names of these projects. Perhaps we can create a
plugin as a result of our larger project.

Looking forward to your ideas :slight_smile:

Cheers,

Brendon

Brendon wrote:

There are open source things that kinda sorta almost work, but they’re
ephemeral by nature – Microsoft proprietary formats are … well …
proprietary. :slight_smile: Abiword and OpenOffice.org can read most Word documents,
and lots of tools can write PDFs. Here’s a list of things I have on
Gentoo:

  • dev-python/rtf2xml
    Latest version available: 1.32
    Latest version installed: [ Not Installed ]
    Unstable version: 1.32
    Use Flags (stable): -
    Size of downloaded files: 1,255 kB
    Homepage: http://rtf2xml.sourceforge.net/
    Description: Converts a Microsoft RTF file to structured XML
    License: GPL-2

  • dev-java/poi
    Latest version available: 2.5.1-r1
    Latest version installed: [ Not Installed ]
    Unstable version: 2.5.1-r1
    Use Flags (stable): -doc -elibc_FreeBSD -elibc_FreeBSD
    +source
    Size of downloaded files: 20,128 kB
    Homepage: http://jakarta.apache.org/poi/
    Description: Java API To Access Microsoft Format Files
    License: Apache-2.0

  • app-text/catdoc
    Latest version available: 0.94.1
    Latest version installed: [ Not Installed ]
    Unstable version: 0.94.1
    Use Flags (stable): +tk
    Size of downloaded files: 490 kB
    Homepage: http://www.45.free.net/~vitus/software/catdoc/
    Description: A convertor for Microsoft Word, Excel and RTF Files
    to text
    License: GPL-2

  • app-text/docfrac
    Latest version available: 3.1.1
    Latest version installed: [ Not Installed ]
    Unstable version: 3.1.1
    Use Flags (stable): -
    Size of downloaded files: 7,105 kB
    Homepage: http://docfrac.sourceforge.net/
    Description: rtf/html/text conversion utility
    License: LGPL-2.1

  • app-text/highlight
    Latest version available: 2.4.8
    Latest version installed: [ Not Installed ]
    Unstable version: 2.4.8
    Use Flags (stable): -
    Size of downloaded files: 925 kB
    Homepage: http://www.andre-simon.de/
    Description: converts source code to formatted text ((X)HTML, RTF,
    (La)TeX, XSL-FO, XML) with syntax highlighting.
    License: GPL-2

  • app-text/unrtf
    Latest version available: 0.20.1
    Latest version installed: [ Not Installed ]
    Unstable version: 0.20.1
    Use Flags (stable): -
    Size of downloaded files: 448 kB
    Homepage: http://www.gnu.org/software/unrtf/unrtf.html
    Description: Converts RTF files to various formats
    License: GPL-2

  • app-text/wv
    Latest version available: 1.2.3-r1
    Latest version installed: 1.2.3-r1
    Unstable version: 1.2.3-r1
    Use Flags (stable): +wmf
    Size of downloaded files: 1,844 kB
    Homepage: http://wvware.sourceforge.net/
    Description: Tool for conversion of MSWord doc and rtf files to
    something readable
    License: GPL-2

  • dev-python/pyrtf
    Latest version available: 0.45
    Latest version installed: [ Not Installed ]
    Unstable version: 0.45
    Use Flags (stable): -
    Size of downloaded files: 96 kB
    Homepage: http://pyrtf.sourceforge.net
    Description: A set of python classes that make it possible to
    produce RTF documents from python programs.
    License: || ( GPL-2 LGPL-2 )

  • dev-tex/latex2rtf
    Latest version available: 1.9.16
    Latest version installed: [ Not Installed ]
    Unstable version: 1.9.16
    Use Flags (stable): -doc
    Size of downloaded files: 1,856 kB
    Homepage: http://latex2rtf.sourceforge.net/
    Description: LaTeX to RTF converter
    License: GPL-2

I think “wv” is the best of this crowd, but it’s been a while since I
had to eat a Word document on my Linux box. As far as Word-to-PDF is
concerned, it’s more or less built in to OpenOffice.org, so just
shelling out to that might get the job done. OO.o is quite a memory hog,
though, so you’ll probably want to fire it up as a server and leave it
running.


M. Edward (Ed) Borasky, FBG, AB, PTA, PGS, MS, MNLP, NST, ACMC§
http://borasky-research.blogspot.com/

If God had meant for carrots to be eaten cooked, He would have given
rabbits fire.

Thank you both for your informative replys. :slight_smile: I like the idea of an
online service. As I was reading your first two options I quickly came
to your conclusion :slight_smile: !

I’ll post any learnings and methods on here when I have something
working,

Cheers,

Brendon

On Tue, 13 Feb 2007, Brendon wrote:

If anyone knows if bits and pieces of tech already exist in this area
but they just haven’t been brought together in this way yet, I’d be
keen to learn the names of these projects. Perhaps we can create a
plugin as a result of our larger project.

Looking forward to your ideas :slight_smile:

Cheers,

Brendon

i’d reccomend one of three approaches

  1. run windows under cross-over office on a linux box or under
    parallels on
    osx. then you can install ruby, under windows, and write a ruby
    application
    that does this using the native ms bindings

  2. setup a windows servers (two would be better) and run a simple drb
    service for converting doccuments - again using the native drivers
    and ruby

  3. use some online service such as http://www.zamzar.com/ and drive
    it via
    http libs/curl

if it were me i’d go with 3 since any reliable method will ential
keeping a
windows box online (!!). you could could probably write producer code
that
posted files to a service and a consumer that checks a special email
account
for finished files in a few days…

regards.

-a

On 2/12/07, Brendon [email protected] wrote:

I think the best way might be to use RJB or JRuby and Jakarta
Poi(http://jakarta.apache.org/poi/)

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