Saturday, February 07, 2009

Software for Converting Things

I've been trying to solve a couple of filetype conversion problems over the last few days - I've come to what I am fairly happy are good solutions, so I thought I'd share them. I'm ok with buying software, but I prefer to use a free alternative if one exists and it's good enough.

First up, best software for converting paper in a scanner to PDFs. I was about to buy some software to do this (having tried out half a dozen demo versions, some of which worked well and others of which were useless - too slow and kept crashing). But then I thought I would try OpenOffice, which I use sometimes anyway. And it was better than any of them, and free. Except that for some bizarre reason it doesn't like rotating the page after scanning it. It will do horizontal and vertical flips, but not rotate through 90 degrees. But that feature alone isn't worth £25.

And yes, I know it's possible to scan it in via a graphics program, save it as an image file then insert it into a document, but I wanted something quicker. And OpenOffice is even quicker than scanning it into the graphics program in the first place.

Second problem, how to read MS Publisher files. I generally hate MS Publisher - it creates bloated files that you can only read with that exact version of Publisher - they don't do backwards compatibility well, and they don't make a reader for Publisher files.

The best solution was PDF Online, who will convert pretty much anything to a PDF (lovely file type, readable on pretty much anything, prints consistently the same). They do it as a free feature while advertising higher-featured file conversion products.

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