Editing PDFs with OpenOffice.org

Practical Hybrid Format

Although the name doesn't suggest it, the PDF Import extension also includes an export function that creates a really practical format. This unspectacular feature, which is tagged onto the normal PDF export dialog in OpenOffice (Figure 6), lets you create PDFs in a hybrid format. The document has a .pdf suffix and can be read in any normal PDF reader. In addition, it contains the original file in its native Open Document Format.

This allows OpenOffice or StarOffice users to open the original document for editing in the PDF Import extension. Instead of Draw, it opens the module used to create the file (e.g., Writer, Calc, or Impress). The hybrid document thus combines the benefits of both formats: The recipient can edit the file normally and, just to be on the safe side, is given a "proof copy" in PDF format, with fonts and graphics that show what the original author meant the document to look like.


PDF Import for OpenOffice.org demonstrates its potential despite its fairly early development stage. Already it is useful for minor corrections to PDFs, and the developers are working on improving the extension. It will be interesting to see the changes in the next release.

Despite all this, you should always remember that PDF is a display format that does not lend itself to editing. If you need to exchange editable documents, it makes far more sense to use a format like ODF or to create hybrid PDFs that give you the best of both worlds.

The Author

Florian Effenberger has been a free software evangelist for many years. He is the Co-Lead of OpenOffice.org's international marketing project and a member of the board of OpenOffice.org Deutschland e.V., a German NGO. His work mainly focuses on designing enterprise and school networks and software distribution solutions based on free software. Florian is a regular contributor to various German and English language publications, in which he investigates legal issues, among other topics.

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