Working with PDFs and documents

So. I’ve been working a lot with various publishing software the last few months, mind you I’m no expert nor very experienced, but I’ve now collected some more data after my recent collaboration with Donovan Morningfire. The reactions on the FFG forums after yesterdays release are of course what they are, some nice and appreciative, and some arrogant and know-it-all, but these latter do point towards issues I had not foreseen (obviously). And while Donovan has been a positive force and very humbling in his praise of my work – which I do appreciate very much! I must admit that I have some miles to go before I can create the PDFs I want to. That would fulfil the requirements I have for them, as well as the more demanding sods in the community. Although to imagine that the creative types with experience with this sort of publishing not actually producing material for the community, but still having the audacity to complain when it’s not up to “their standards”, I find that sort of retarded, moronic, and uncreative.

Long story short, I started the whole re-imagining of my catalogue using some open source software which was brilliant, until the need for tables came about (not so brilliant any more suddenly). At that point I had to look elsewhere, and ended up with MS Publisher (which I worked with once during the mid-90s for a school newspaper project). Which, all things considered, is a real nice piece of software. Until you want to export PDFs. There is no shortage on blogs and articles on the internet slagging off MS Publisher and its mediocre and substandard quality when it comes to producing graphic and picture filled PDFs that are supposed to be printed, or viewed on a screen.

So what does it result in? Well, for one that it cannot for some reason embed the EotE symbol font to make the PDF searchable, not without the symbols reverting back to letters. On the other hand, using alternative PDF-printers will fix that, but remove any hyperlinks to websites put in the text, which is sort of annoying. So where does that leave me? Searching for software that can insert hyperlinks into PDFs, or giving up and become the sort of arrogant and self-absorbed bastard that Adobe CS seems to produce… in other words, get Adobe InDesign and lose my remaining humanity.

Of course, there is the possibility of using Libre (or Open) Office, but that would require a whole lot of reworking now, as the catalogue is more or less done, the only remaining bits are NPC statlines and a few more ships I’ve been considering. Furthermore, I’m not sure Libre Office Draw would handle it that much better than MS Publisher when it all comes down to it, although it might (I haven’t researched it thoroughly yet). And while I do recognise the superiority of Adobe InDesign, I also have principles – that I break all the time – and one of those principles is not to support douche bags with money if I can avoid it. You might say that MS isn’t better, and you’re probably right, but supporting numerous douche bags one after the other, with my hard earned money, not the sort of thing I do lightly.

So, while I have no control over what happens with the flaws I caused in the Species Menagerie – I have tried to rectify it by making searchable versions without hyperlinks. The result is somewhat larger files, but faster to load, and searchable. And who knows, perhaps I’ll come across the software I need to night, whether it’s InDesign or some other program.


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