How do I mimic a binder in digital form?
March 16, 2011 10:14 PM   Subscribe

How do I mimic a binder in digital form?

At work, we have binders that each are made up of about 90 printed out RTF documents. Each RTF document has about 3 pages.

Individual RTF documents are periodically updated. When an update happens, the old RTF document is tossed out of the binder and the new one goes in its place. Occasionally new RTF documents are created and are added to the end of the binder.

I have website access to each RTF file. I would like to abandon the paper binder format and keep everything digital so it is searchable, but I'm finding it is easier to make these changes with printed pages than a digital solution.

My best practice right now is to use Acrobat 7.0 to combine each set of RTF documents into a PDF, with one PDF corresponding to a paper binder. But it takes Acrobat a long time to put all those individual documents together and we have about 20-30 of these binders that get updated. I've also found swapping out pages in my version of Acrobat is not as intuitive as it could be.

I would like for the digital binders to be easily maintained by one person but at the same time be viewable to many people. I like the PDF output because it saves on file size (compared to the poorly formatted RTFs) and they are easily searchable.

Please assume Windows XP.

Is a makefile a good way to do this? If so, please help with an example script.
posted by UsernameGenerator to Computers & Internet (7 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
A wiki? Wikis are good at keeping track of changes, but bad at complex formatting. With a little scripting you could even generate PDFs from the wiki pages you need.
posted by msittig at 10:24 PM on March 16, 2011

Response by poster: Thanks for the suggestion.

In case it wasn't clear, I do not create the RTF documents. To me, they are read-only documents that are frequently updated.

Is there an easy way to go from many RTF documents to a single wiki? The trouble that I am having is going from many individual documents to one larger file. My goal is for this to take about the same amount of time as maintaining paper binders. So far, I haven't found a software solution that does that. I am interested in learning how to program and solving this myself, but it seems like this is a relatively common problem.
posted by UsernameGenerator at 10:43 PM on March 16, 2011

Is it always the same set of RTF files with newer versions? If so, you can write a simple line of code in ghost script to merge a bunch of PDF files into a new PDF. Anytime you get an updated RTF, either print it to a PDF with the same filename as the old version or update the ghostscript code to use the newer file name.
posted by empath at 10:51 PM on March 16, 2011

I have to think Acrobat has a way to make a Table of Contents PDF with links to external PDFs. Then you just have to convert each RTF to PDF and update the ToC to point to the new file. Regenerate the Table of Contents PDF with the new info. Distribute via zipfile (this can be more complicated and/or idiot-proofed if you want).
posted by rhizome at 1:33 AM on March 17, 2011

Best answer: LibreOffice is open source and cross-platform and it has a Master Document facility that should work nicely for you. Keep the original RTFs in a folder, make a master document for each binder, link the RTFs to that as its subdocuments, and use the inbuilt PDF exporter whenever you change or add a subdocument.
posted by flabdablet at 4:22 AM on March 17, 2011

Have you looked at Microsoft OneNote? The interface even looks like a binder to me (try to find some screenshots).
posted by feelinggood at 8:06 PM on March 17, 2011

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