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Creating customized batches of PDFs

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I often have to make hundreds of PDF for a mailer and email them to my client's clients. As I do it now I create customized PDFs by using Word's Mail Merge feature and printing to Acrobat's print driver. Does anyone know of a way to do simple merge fields or create PDFs on the fly without Word and or Acrobat?

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There are a bunch of free pdf printer drivers out there. With them you can use any program to create your document.


WordPad may have enough formatting features for you. Create a document in WordPad, print it to the PDF printer driver.


Another option would be OpenOffice but many OpenOffice developers have left since Sun was acquired by Oracle. There is fear that Oracle will stop development of OpenOffice or try to change the licensing to monetize it. Keep that in mind for long term future.


What is your goal? To reduce the cost of the add on software? Or to simplify things by eliminating big programs?

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Thanks Kevin. I do use several cheap or free print drivers and tools but I was looking for a programmatic way. I know some of the financial websites I deal with generate custom reports on the fly and often with the option of PDF. I was thinking they must have some tool to do this on the server side.


Back in my early days as a CADD guy I would create EPS files with Ghostscript and often hack them to fix things like negative arc rotations which were understood in AutoCAD but not in the DTP world. The language was simple, "GStroke from, to, width X, blah, blah blah". It was actualy not unlike GCode used in CNC or HPGL used generated for old fashioned pen plotters. PDF was based on EPS and can be plain text encoded. I tried once to replace some place marker text but that only corrupted the file and I gave up after that.

Anyway yesterday I did my normal routine of merge to PDF, split PDF (now thankfully natively supported in Acrobat), rename files, and store hundreds of temp files someplace for the macro and I was thinking again how cool it would be if I could have a PDF template I could someone modify a couple fields in as the macro ran and avoid all that. For instance right now customize cells Excel workbooks using VBScript and it works slick.



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