Reading PDF documents

Graham Samuel livfoss at
Sat Oct 1 13:12:10 EDT 2011

Mark, thanks for your message. I don't think you're going to believe the depth of my ignorance on this - anything derived from a *nix environment gets me out of my comfort zone pretty quickly. 

Anyway, out of respect for you and in order to give the thing a fair trial, I made sure that all my earlier attempts to download and use ImageMagick on my PC (actually XP on Parallels on a Mac, but never mind), were destroyed, and started again.

Firstly, when I look at the ImageMagick download site, I read:

> If you have any problems, install the Visual C++ 2010 Redistributable Package (x86) or Visual C++ 2010 Redistributable Package (x64). 64-bit Windows requires both packages (x86 & x64).

I have no idea what this means but I sure do not want this to be a requirement on my user, so let's hope I don't have any "problems"! This is what I mean by "background software", because the last time I tried this I did actually download some of that stuff, can't remember why. I think this is also why I thought IM was a resource hog - maybe on its own it isn't.

I elected to download version 6.7.2Q16 (a .exe file) as this was recommended on the IM site.

I also read:

> The Windows version of ImageMagick is self-installing. Simply click on the appropriate version below and it will launch itself and ask you a few installation questions.

Hmm - of course I don't mind a few questions, but what about my poor geography teacher? Anyway I started to do this and soon came up with the installer. I had to agree with the licence terms (this is acceptable, even to the gt) and then got to:

> While it is not a requirement, we strongly recommend that you install the  Ghostscript <> package. ImageMagick utilizes Ghostscript to render Postscript and PDF files, as well as formats where a translator to Postscript is available. ImageMagick also uses the fonts delivered with Ghostscript to support the standard set of Adobe Postscript fonts like "Helvetica" and "Times Roman". 

Looking at the IM documentation, I realise that without Ghostscript I won't be able to open any PDFs, so this means I have to have it, even though I am nervous about the licensing terms for a commercial product (I've written about this in another message to the list). The IM docs then go on to explain that if we don't set the parameters correctly so that the resolution IM is working with corresponds exactly to the original resolution of the images in the PDF, then the image may look fuzzy or be otherwise unacceptable. There are no instructions for finding out how to do this, and indeed the IM docs show a considerable amount of doubt as to how to proceed (see I wonder how commercial packages such as Apple's Preview cope with this? I am worried about the amount of research needed.

The rest of the installation requires one to pick options etc. and finally do do a test to show IM is working. I'm hoping (but I don't know) that all this can be hidden from my user.

I got through the installation and ran the test, and it was rather easy! So I am warming to the idea. 

The next thing is to understand the ImageMagick command syntax. This is not going to be easy, especially when it comes to limitations etc but I will try. My aim now is to debug enough command line sequences to prove to myself that I can do all the things I want to do (format conversions really) and then go back and see if the installation and licensing issues can be overcome.

Anyway I hope the above isn't too boring for anyone to read. I will report back if and when I make more progress.


PS Mark, IMO here in the UK, the reason schools won't install QuickTime is because their technical advisors regard QT as non-standard. Flash has somehow got in and is now considered essential, but to many PC users of my acquaintance (not developers!), QT is considered quite alien. And it does occasionally demand to be updated, which is disturbing if you're not used to it.

On Sat, 1 Oct 2011 14:06:52 +0200, Mark Schonewille <m.schonewille at> wrote:
> i
> Hi Graham,
> Whenever I need ImagaMagick, I include the command line tool with the standalone package and avoid installation.
> In what what way would it be a resource hog?
> Which "background software" did it require? AFAIK the latest version only requires SP3 if running on Win XP.
> I've never understood schools that would install my software but not QuicktTime.
> --
> Best regards,
> Mark Schonewille

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