Combining PDF Files With Pdftk

I’m currently delivering all my talks with PDF format slides, using Jakob’s PDF Presenter Console, which is awesome but lacks a “goto slide” button and is a little slow to click forward. It doesn’t matter for a short talk but I had 200+ slides for my ZCE preparation tutorial at the Dutch PHP Conference and I was concerned about losing my place! Therefore I split my slides up into several decks, but still need to publish them as a whole.

For years I’ve used PDF Shuffler for this sort of thing but I wondered if there was an easy way of doing this from the command line this time, since I literally wanted to glue together a bunch of files one after another. Predictably, there is and it’s called pdftk – the PDF Toolkit. Continue reading

Printable PDF Handouts from OpenOffice Impress

Last week I was preparing a training course for a client, and I wanted to print the slides nicely for the attendees to refer to and make notes on etc. The slides were done, I’d talked to my friendly printers (Mailboxes etc in Leeds) and all I needed to do was generate the handouts. Which was fine until I googled for help with doing that from OpenOffice, only to find that although it has this awesome “Export to PDF” functionality for documents, slides, etc, it wasn’t going to do it for handouts.

I’m an ubuntu user, and it turns out that there’s a clever package called cups-pdf which installs a pretend printer, and anything you could print, you can turn into a PDF. Brilliant. I installed it with aptitude and instantly I had a printer named “PDF” which printed to a /home/lorna/PDF directory.

Did I mention I love ubuntu?

I also wanted to add a cover page to my document, before I sent the whole thing to the printers in a PDF file for them to print and bind. For this I simply created an OpenOffice document and used the usual export to PDF. By the magic of twitter, I got some great advice from EmmaJane and installed the package PDFShuffler which enabled me to combine the two documents and save the result as a PDF.


By the magic of open source, I have beautiful handouts :) Printing in Linux really has come a long way, I can’t thank the developers and maintainers of all those libraries enough – all I did was install two packages!