Virtual scissors and tape: Page assembly?
October 26, 2008 11:41 PM   Subscribe

I want software to split, combine, tile, and imposition pages (produced by different apps) before sending the job to the printer. Can I do this without spending megabucks on Acrobat or learning to read and write PostScript by hand?

I'm on Windows XP. My current task is producing double-sided quarter-sheet flyers. They should have a Google map on one side, and some text from a word processor on the other. The printer can do 4-up printing and duplexing, but only if the pages are all part of the same print job. So what I want to do is capture the map page on its way to the printer, and capture the text, and combine them into a single document that's (map, map, map, map, text, text, text, text) and then feed that to the printer in 4-up duplex mode.

It would also be nice to do combine multiple pages onto one sheet even on printers that don't support it in their drivers. Ideally, such software would also let me enlarge a vector PDF and tile it across an arbitrary number of letter-sized pages for printing. (Rasterbator only accepts bitmapped images, not PDFs, as input.)

I've tried FinePrint (can't seem to combine print jobs), HP Smart Web Printing (sounds useful but isn't), PF-Merge (requires Acrobat), GreenPrint (can't combine jobs), etc.

I think I could do this by printing everything to PostScript files, manually concatenating the files, and maybe learning a bit of PS glue to make it all work. Is that my best option?
posted by Myself to Computers & Internet (6 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Print to PDF, then combine.
posted by PueExMachina at 12:21 AM on October 27, 2008

Maybe PSUtils. It's command line driven with a steep learning curve. I used it to do about the same thing you plan, little 8 page books on a single sheet of paper.

ps2eps may also be of help. Print map/text to ps, convert to eps, then insert into a Word document and print that using your printers 4-up and duplex abilities.
posted by zengargoyle at 12:26 AM on October 27, 2008

If you don't need too many layouts and are comfortable without a graphical interface, you can do this with ImageMagick and a couple of scripts in the language of your choice. The downside would be that everything must be converted to bitmap before sending to the printer, but you should be ok if you choose an appropriate resolution.

ImageMagick can also handle PDFs as input by the way, but converts them to bitmap.

Personally I would use pdflatex with the graphicx package for this (convert everything to pdf or png, then layout in a page-sized \picture environment with \includegraphics), but only because I already know how to do it --- learning all this may not be worth the hassle.
posted by ghost of a past number at 12:51 AM on October 27, 2008

I use Cute PDF to "print" anything to a PDF document.

I then use PDF Split and Merge to merge them.

If you then had map/text one-page after another, you could then just use your printer software to do the duplex/4-uping.
posted by chrispy108 at 3:07 AM on October 27, 2008

Wow. How did I not know about pdftk? Thank you. That will do nicely for my current use.

Still no PDF rasterbator. (vectorbator?) It looks like I can use pdf2ps and then poster.
posted by Myself at 6:32 AM on October 27, 2008

Scribus will do what you want. Instrument up your pages, export to PDF, and print. It's free!
posted by ostranenie at 5:53 PM on October 27, 2008

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