Debenu Quick PDF Library 11 Released

We’re excited to announce the release of Debenu Quick PDF Library 11. Some major areas of focus in building this new version were optimizing the portability and performance of online PDF viewing. We’ve also added support for the latest versions of popular development environments like Delphi XE7.

As befits a major update, version 11 of our PDF developer library for Windows, Mac and Server development represents an important step forward, and features a range of new functions and enhancements.

What’s new

  • Delphi XE7 support
  • Linearization (Fast Web View)
  • Render page to clip
  • Relative link support
  • 49 enhancements, bug fixes and features
  • Full list of changes

Try the new version

A full list of the changes in Debenu Quick PDF Library 11 can be found on our product updates page. You can also download a 30 day limitation-free trial version of the library.


Debenu Quick PDF Library 11 is a major new version of the product which means that the upgrade process is different from the minor version upgrade process, namely, upgrades are not free unless you meet certain requirements.

Free upgrades

Customers who purchased version 10 of Debenu Quick PDF Library on or after the 10th of July, 2014 (within 60 days of version 11’s release) or who own an active Premium Upgrade Protection subscription are eligible for free upgrades from version 10 to version 11.

Contact our sales team if you fall into this category and we’ll help you out.

Purchase an upgrade

An upgrade from version 10 or earlier versions to version 11 can be purchased at a discount (starting price is $269.00) through our online store. Users can upgrade their Single Developer, Multiple Developer or Source Code licenses to version 11. It’s also possible to purchase Premium Upgrade Protection with your upgrade purchase.

For example, if you own a Single Developer License + Standard Upgrade Protection for version 10 of Debenu Quick PDF Library then you will need to purchase the Single Developer Upgrade License + Standard Upgrade Protection (10.x to 11.x) product in order to upgrade to version 11 -— though you can choose to buy the Premium Upgrade Protection version of that product if you prefer.


As always we’d love to hear your thoughts on the new version of Debenu Quick PDF Library. If you have any questions, comments or general feedback, please let us know.

Posted in Debenu Quick PDF Library, News, Releases | Tagged | Leave a comment

Debenu PDF Aerialist Plus Acrobat for Legal Professionals

Those working in the legal sector use a huge volume of documents. Increasingly, these are created, prepared and transmitted in digital format, with some documents never even “touching the ground” in the sense of being physically printed. As of right now, that means that there a whole lot of PDFs flying around. As more and more courts accept or even mandate electronic filing (e-filing), it’s likely that legal professionals will see an even greater number of PDFs as time goes on.


Of course, they will need the right tools and know-how to make the most of PDF, and that’s where the combination of Debenu PDF Aerialist 12 and Adobe Acrobat Professional comes in. Acrobat itself is actually packed with useful features. In fact, there’s at least one book specifically aimed at helping lawyers use Acrobat. An all-in-one plug-in for Acrobat, Debenu PDF Aerialist 12 adds a significant amount of additional power, flexibility and automation potential to Acrobat’s already impressive bag of tricks. If you are a legal professional and wondering whether you could use Acrobat and Aerialist, please read through some of the specific tasks and functions outlined below:

  • Create bookmarks and hyperlinks. Acrobat allows the manual creation of bookmarks and links. Debenu PDF Aerialist takes this a step further, though, and can create bookmarks or links based on keywords, headings, fonts, tables of contents, page references, PDFs, settings files, or folder locations.


  • Manage, validate, audit and repair links and bookmarks. Aerialist can be used to configure, view, audit and validate links and bookmarks in bulk. Bookmarks and links can then be repaired.
  • Redact sensitive content. Acrobat lets users remove content manually or automatically via keyword, key-phrase or pattern-recognition (i.e., credit card details, phone numbers, social security numbers, email addresses or dates). Acrobat can also remove information that might be less obvious, like metadata, stored form data, or obscured content.
  • Search PDFs. Acrobat lets users search for text within PDF documents. Electronically-authored PDFs are already searchable, although scanned documents might need to be processed before they are searchable. Luckily, Acrobat features optical character recognition (OCR) technology that processes scanned PDFs, recognizes text and makes it searchable.
  • Manipulate pages. Acrobat can insert, delete, extract or rotate pages from PDFs. These can come in very handy if one needs to add missing pages, remove redundant content or extract sections of a document for review purposes. Acrobat can also rotate pages on a document level, and even allows users to, for example, rotate only pages in landscape orientation to ensure a natural on-screen reading experience.
  • Combine or merge PDFs. With Acrobat, users can combine a collection of files (PDFs and others) into a single PDF. This might be useful when separate, related documents need to be combined as part of a single motion or pleading. Debenu PDF Aerialist adds even more advanced merging functionality, allowing users to specify and validate page ranges for merging.
  • Split a PDF into multiple files. Acrobat can split a large PDF into smaller files based on a specified number of pages, output file size, or by top-level bookmarks. Aerialist adds a substantial number of additional “split-by” options, including user-defined page marks, bookmarks of any level, and specific page range. Aerialist can also update bookmarks and links so that they continue to work between the newly split PDFs.


  • Edit text. Acrobat allows users to edit text content, which makes updating dates or fixing typos at the last minute a simple process. This only works for searchable text, but non-searchable text can be rendered searchable using Acrobat’s OCR functionality.
  • Highlight text. The commenting tools in Acrobat can be used to mark or highlight searchable text. The best thing is that Acrobat maintains a list of all comments, including highlighted text, that can be easily accessed at any time.
  • Forms. Acrobat users can scan in a standard paper form, add form fields, and then save the resulting PDF. The new electronic form can then be completed using Acrobat whenever it is needed, saving time and hassle. It’s even possible to “flatten” the form data by merging it into the page content using Acrobat’s Action Wizard (see: Adobe’s blog post).
  • Bates numbering. Acrobat can quickly, and efficiently apply Bates numbering to many PDF files at once, and in an order set by the user. With Aerialist, Bates numbering can be applied as part of a customized stamp profile that may include other information, such as file name, author, and date.
  • Apply signature or exhibit stamps. Acrobat can be used to create and apply custom stamps, including signatures. It can also produce stamps that are created dynamically, such as those including the current date, or which automatically increase in increments. With Aerialist, it’s possible to create a stamp profile that consists of multiple, user-defined stamps that can be applied throughout individual documents or document collections.


  • Ensure standards (e.g., PDF/A) compliance. In many jurisdictions, e-filing regulations require that submitted PDFs conform to document standards. Typically, these correspond to, or are adapted from, the formal PDF standard for long-term archiving, commonly known as PDF/A (AKA ISO 19005-1:2005). Acrobat’s preflight functionality allows users to validate PDFs against a range of profiles, including PDF/A, and to fix compliance violations. This system is flexible enough to permit the creation and use of custom profiles, such as that corresponding to ISP/NP 19005-1, a standard adapted from PDF/A that is used for e-filing.


Even alone, Acrobat offers a powerful set of tools for document creation, preparation and validation for a legal professional. The addition of Debenu PDF Aerialist brings with it significant additional functionality, particularly in the areas of combining, splitting, navigating and complex stamping of documents. Don’t just take our word for it, though. There are even fully-functional trial versions of both Acrobat and Aerialist available from the Adobe and Debenu websites, respectively. Using these free downloads, potential users in the legal industry can see for themselves how easy it is to improve their document creation, processing and management using this powerful software combination.

Posted in Articles, Debenu PDF Aerialist | Leave a comment

Regular Expressions in Debenu PDF Aerialist 12

One of the powerful new features added in the Debenu PDF Aerialist 12 is support for regular expressions. Specifically, this is now built into the Create Keyword Links feature. So what are regular expressions and why do you care about them? That’s a good question. Well, a regular expression is really just an official-sounding name for a consistent, formal pattern of text. Examples might include SKUs, license, invoice or part numbers.

While Aerialist users could already save time by automatically adding hyperlinks to specific keywords and phrases, the new feature means that this can now be done based on types of expressions. Say you had a PDF-based catalog and wanted to create links for unique part numbers that consisted of two letters, a dash and five numerals (e.g., AB-12345). Prior to the latest release, you would have needed to manually link each part number to the appropriate location. With Aerialist 12, though, it is now possible to find and generate web links for any text in the catalog that matched the appropriate pattern set for part numbers.

To help users make the most of this feature, I have written a Knowledge Base article that demonstrates how to create links based on regular expressions. The basic take-home message is this, though: if you need to produce a lot of hyperlinks based on patterned text, then this feature is for you.

Posted in Articles, Debenu PDF Aerialist, Debenu PDF Aerialist Pharma | Leave a comment

Debenu PDF Aerialist 12 Released

The bottom-up process that drove the new version of Debenu’s ultimate Adobe(R) Acrobat(R) plugin, Debenu PDF Aerialist, was propelled completely by user based feedback

Debenu released the major update to the market leading, all-in-one Adobe(R) Acrobat(R) plug-in, Debenu PDF Aerialist. Version 12 of the world-leading plug-in is packed with dozens of new and enhanced features, and adds cutting-edge capabilities for existing functionality like link-building, working with bookmarks, and splitting.

The development team behind the latest version focused on two key new function areas: PDF links and PDF bookmarks. Lead developer on the project Marek Pizùr explained, “Users can now automatically apply dynamic hyperlinks to formatted variable text (i.e., regular expressions), such as part or order numbers. This is possible because we have added the ability to locate variable text, which can then be used to dynamically create specific links.”

While Debenu PDF Aerialist already permitted users to link page numbers and keywords across thousands of PDFs, adding support for regular expressions represents a new level of intelligence.

According to Debenu CTO Rowan Hanna, “This will save people a lot of time and hassle from manual link creation. If you have to create a large PDF catalog, this feature lets you automatically link any part number to the appropriate section, PDF file or web page that describes that part.”

Hanna went on to outline the customer-centric approach that guided the creation of Debenu PDF Aerialist 12, “This development cycle has been driven entirely by user feedback. Our main aim in building this major update was to ensure that we were able to deliver real value to our customers. We are now also offering instructor-led training in order to help our customers get the most out of Aerialist.”

# Highlights in Version 12 #

  • Regular expression support added to Create Keyword Links feature
  • Append found keyword to web links for Create Keyword Links feature
  • New Rearrange Bookmarks feature
  • Accuracy of Create Keyword Links feature improved
  • New “Overwrite if file already exists” enhancement to Split feature
  • New generate bookmark every Nth page feature
  • Word comparison enhancements to Edit All Properties feature
  • New Find All External Dependencies option for Audit Links feature
  • Import files issue for Imposition dialog resolved
  • New install for All Users or Current User option
  • New Mac installer

* Availability of instructor-led training to help users get the most out of Debenu PDF Aerialist 12

# Availability #

Debenu PDF Aerialist 12 is currently available for Mac and Windows systems directly from the Debenu website and from Debenu’s network of resellers.

# About Debenu #

Debenu is one of the world’s most innovative PDF and document management software vendors. Producing revolutionary software and custom solutions for Adobe Acrobat, PDF and other file formats since 2007.

Debenu was founded by the people behind ARTS PDF, a major plug-in developer for Adobe Acrobat, Planet PDF (the world’s #1 news and forum website for PDF), and Nitro PDF.


# Contacts #

Jeremy Koadlow – Marketing Manager

Debenu Pty. Ltd.


Posted in Debenu PDF Aerialist, Debenu PDF Aerialist Pharma, News, Press Release, Releases | Leave a comment

Debenu Quick PDF Library 10.16 Released

The final version of Debenu Quick PDF Library 10.16 has been released and is ready for download from our product updates page.

This new version is full of new functions, enhancements and bug fixes and we recommend that all customers upgrade to it to take advantage of the improvements. Visit the product updates page to download this new version and see a full list of the changes.

Download 10.16 from our Product Updates page

Version 10.16 Highlights

  • Fixed palette bug with image decoding for DPLR
  • Color conversion of /Separation images uses direct CMYK to RGB conversion
  • HasFontResources now checks for a global Resources and Fonts dictionary
  • Fixed an EMF import issue with text rendering and ETO_PDY flag
  • Fixed a text rendering issue with EMF import
  • TrueType Subsetted fonts are now automatically updated and subsetted with DrawText
  • Improved text extraction bounding boxes for Type3 fonts without full font information
  • Unicode non blocking space characters replaced with space in text extraction
  • Documentation updated for text extraction bounding rectangles
  • Fixed in invalid xobj problem during file loading
  • Added code to detect invalid xref objstart entries for older PDF’s
  • Arcs are now imported correctly when using the EMF import functions
  • Some Asian texts are now imported correctly when using the EMF import functions
  • FormFieldChoice fields are now treated as UTF8 where required
  • Fixed rendering of JPEG2000 images with a DeviceN ColorSpace
  • Fixed image extraction of JBIG2 images with ImageMask = True
  • Fixed an endless loop condition for certain malformed PDF files
  • Fixed stream detection slowdown from 10.13
  • SetObjectFrom* functions now support stream objects
  • More accurate line dash rendering in GDI Plus renderer


Debenu Quick PDF Library 10 is a major new version of the product which means that the upgrade process is different from the minor version upgrade process, namely, upgrades are not free unless you meet certain requirements.

Free upgrades

Customers who purchased version 9 of Debenu Quick PDF Library on or after the 24th of August, 2013 (within 60 days of version 10’s release) or who own an active Premium Upgrade Protection subscription are eligible for free upgrades from version 9 to version 10.

Contact our sales team if you fall into this category and we’ll help you out.

Purchase an upgrade

An upgrade from version 9 or earlier versions to version 10 can be purchased at a discount (starting price is $269.00) through our online store. Users can upgrade their Single Developer, Multiple Developer or Source Code licenses to version 10. It’s also possible to purchase Premium Upgrade Protection with your upgrade purchase.

For example, if you own a Single Developer License + Standard Upgrade Protection for version 9 of Debenu Quick PDF Library then you will need to purchase the Single Developer Upgrade License + Standard Upgrade Protection (9.x to 10.x) product in order to upgrade to version 10 — though you can choose to buy the Premium Upgrade Protection version of that product if you prefer.


As always we’d love to hear your thoughts on the new version of Debenu Quick PDF Library. If you have any questions, comments or general feedback, please let us know.

Posted in Debenu Quick PDF Library, News, Releases | Tagged | Leave a comment

Debenu Quick PDF Library 10.16 Beta 1 Released

Debenu Quick PDF Library 10.16 Beta 1 has been released and is ready for downloading and testing.  The 10.16 Beta 1 installer can be downloaded from the button below.

Download Debenu Quick PDF Library

Release Notes

New functions

  • None

Bug fixes

  • Image rendering problem fixed (Color Key Masking support added)
  • Fix rendering exception caused by infinity loop in Type1 font decoder
  • Inline image printing problem resolved
  • Fixed palette bug with image decoding for Debenu PDF Library Rendering engine (AGG)
  • Fixed issue with XMP (setting the title was actually changing the subject)
  • Fixed malformed PDF handling for specified but missing objects
  • Fixed memory leak in FindFonts
  • Fixed issue with HasFontResources not detecting font
  • ETO_PDY flag is now being used correctly
  • Use offsets to calculate text width
  • Update DA/GetTextBlockBlockBounds documentation to report correct order of coordinates
  • Add workaround for text extraction where no ascent values are specified in the font
  • Added improved detection for invalid xref entries
  • Improved EMF import of Asian / CJK fonts
  • Fix for import Arc’s in EMF files
  • FormFieldChoice fields are now treated as UTF8 where required
  • Fixed rendering of JPEG2000 images with a DeviceN ColorSpace in GDI+ renderer
  • Fixed rendering of JPEG2000 images with a DeviceN ColorSpace in AGG renderer
  • Fixed image extraction of masked JBIG2 images
  • Fixed an endless loop for image loading
  • Fixed stream detection slowdown from 10.13
  • SetObjectFrom* functions now support stream objects


  • Color conversion of /Separation images uses direct CMYK to RGB conversion
  • Changes to AddTrueTypeSubsettedFont for automatic subset updating
  • Text extraction routines now converts &nbsp to a space for word breaks
  • More accurate line dash rendering in GDI Plus renderer

Upgrading To Version 10

If you are still using version 7, 8 or 9 and would like to upgrade visit this page:

Feedback! Any feedback large or small is appreciated. We’ll shortly be planning the next round of exciting new features for Debenu Quick PDF Library, so we’d really like to know what you want to see added to the SDK. Don’t be shy, email us and have your say.

Posted in Debenu Quick PDF Library, Releases | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Reducing PDF File Size (Optimizing PDFs), Part 2

By Dan Shea, Planet PDF Contributing Editor.

Originally posted at Planet PDF. Part 1 can be found here.

Using the PDF Optimizer

The PDF Optimizer presents a lot of options. Since Acrobat/PDF Optimizer breaks them down by them into separate panels, we’ll do the same here. The types of content to be optimized can be toggled individually using the check boxes next to the panels on the left-hand side of the PDF Optimizer interface. Clicking on the panel name on the left-hand side brings up the panel and its specific options.

Using optimization profiles

You have rather a lot of options when customizing the PDF Optimizer to your particular needs. First up, check the settings for various in-built profiles. By default, Acrobat XI only ships with two: Standard and Mobile. Essentially, Standard is designed for broad compatibility with a broad range of viewing environments. As a result, it is compatible with older viewing software, and isn’t too drastic in the way it shrinks images and removes other elements. Mobile, on the other hand, represents a more aggressive approach to optimization, and is designed to ensure smaller file sizes that can be downloaded and viewed on devices that typically operate with more limited bandwidth.

Debenu Quick PDF Library Can Reduce PDF Size

If one of the built-in profiles seems to suit your needs, then great! Use it. If not, then it’s easy enough to tweak them. Note that changing any settings will reset the current profile to Custom, but you can then save any custom settings to a new profile, so that isn’t really a problem.

Optimizing images (Images Panel)

Images often contribute a significant amount to file size. The key processes involved in optimizing them are compression and downsampling. Compression eliminates redundant or unwanted pixel information, while downsampling reduces the resolution of images to save space. The user can select the compression type, resolution that triggers downsampling, and the resolution to which such images will be downsampled.

PDF Optimizer allows separate settings for color, grayscale and monochrome images. Due to differences in the number of possible colors, these different types of images take different amounts of space, so, for example, a high-res monochrome image would occupy an amount of space equivalent to a much lower-res color image.

The principles of downsampling are relatively straightforward: lower-res images take less space but look less sharp. What might be less obvious is which compression methods are best suited to particular types of images. In general, JPEG and JPEG2000 are best suited for use with images like photographs, where colors tend to change gradually. ZIP can be used with images with more clearly defined palettes and larger areas of solid color, like logos, layout art and some illustrations. JBIG2, CCITT Groups 3 & 4 are best used with monochrome images.

With JPEG, JPEG2000 and JBIG2 compression, the user must also choose a compression quality that offers a suitable trade-off between image quality and file size. Essentially, higher levels of compression discard more pixel information and encode each image as a compact approximation of the original. Lossless compression, which is available with JPEG2000 and JBIG2, retains all pixel information.

Unembedding fonts (Fonts Panel)

To ensure viewing fidelity and consistent editing across systems — not to mention comply with relevant standards — it’s common to embed entire fonts in PDF files. That said, fonts can take up a lot of space in a PDF, especially if there are a lot of them. Fonts can be safely unembedded if they are installed on the computers of the users reading the PDF documents. In that case, the reader’s system just accesses their local copy of the font. Clearly, this is safest when system or other essentially ubiquitous fonts have been used to compose the PDF document.

If the reader doesn’t have the font installed, then their PDF viewing software will select a locally-installed substitute font. As such, fonts should still be embedded when a consistent look-and-feel is crucial, unusual or custom fonts are used, or when it is mandated by compliance requirements. File size versus utility is always the trade-off when attempting to optimize PDFs.

Flatten transparency (Transparency Panel)

In PDF files with graphics that contain transparency, the Transparency panel can be used to flatten it. Flattening transparency incorporates it into artwork by sectioning it into vector- and raster-based areas. The Transparency Panel features several presets based on the desired quality. As with images, there is a trade-off between quality and file size.

Remove unwanted elements (Discard Objects & Discard User Data Panels)

The Discard Objects and Discard User Data settings permit the removal of intact but unwanted elements of PDF files. They allow the flattening of form fields or layers, discarding of embedded settings, annotations, interactive elements like bookmarks and the conversion of elements into simpler (and more compact) approximations. For example, interactive forms can be flattened so that form data entered by the user becomes a permanent part of the document. These settings can potentially reduce file size at the expense of functionality.

Since these elements can and often do affect the functionality of your PDF, it’s best to be careful when using unfamiliar options. Experimentation is best performed after saving a backup of your original file.

Clean up your PDF (Clean Up Panel)

The Clean Up settings can be configured to manipulate compression on the document level and to remove broken or otherwise redundant elements. This includes things like discarding invalid links and bookmarks, streamlining encoding settings, and optimizing PDFs for fast web viewing. While the latter doesn’t specifically address file size, web-optimized PDFs are still quicker to view online, which is often one purpose of reducing file size in the first place.

By default, only options that cannot affect functionality are selected; indeed, there is only one option that is not selected by default, “Discard unreferenced named destinations”. Without getting too technical, a named destination is like a beacon in the PDF. Once created, it’s possible to point to that beacon either externally (e.g., from another PDF) or internally (i.e., from another part of the same document). This option can only check whether anything within the PDF points to the named destination. In other words, it can only check for internal references. If there are external references to the destination, checking this option will break those links. As with the Discard Objects and Discard User Data settings, it’s worth backing-up your original PDF before experimenting with this.

Save the optimized file

Once you have configured everything, save the optimized file. Even if you haven’t specifically saved your settings as a profile, Acrobat will still remember your last PDF Optimizer settings. These will be the default configuration the next time you boot up Acrobat.

Optimizing PDFs in batches

It’s also possible to optimize archives of PDF documents in large batches using Acrobat’s Action Wizard (under Save & Export > Save). Outlining precisely how to do that is outside the scope of this article, but might be the topic of a future how-to. Until then, happy optimizing!

Posted in Articles, Planet PDF | Leave a comment

The Challenges of Developing for Mobile

With the release of our mobile PDF SDK for iOS and Android later this year, I thought it might be a good time to talk about some of the issues that are specific to developing for mobile platforms. This task poses some special challenges. Ultimately, a lot of it boils down to hardware limitations.

I’ve heard it said that the processing power of today’s smartphones vastly outstrips that of the computers used to coordinate the first moon mission. Nevertheless, today’s software is a resource-hungry menagerie. In simple point of fact, sleek, portable devices lack the raw oomph of larger machines of the same vintage.

This difference in power is ultimately the reason there was a need to create mobile-specific platforms like iOS and Android. Performance is key, and with their more limited system resources, mobile devices are more vulnerable to performance dips when features aren’t implemented in the most lightweight way possible.

As mobile devices have grown in power and become an everyday part of our working lives, there has been an increasing need to facilitate productivity tasks on these portable machines. Still, the differences in form factor, power and operating systems mean that cross-platform compatibility needs to be a consideration from the get-go. This is especially true when working on a single code base that is going to support both desktop and mobile applications.

Since desktop infrastructures are both mature and have grown up with the idea of productivity in mind, there are measures in place that can basically be used as short-cuts. Being younger and necessarily leaner, equivalent structures don’t necessarily exist yet in mobile platforms. For example, GDI+ on Windows-based systems enables applications to use graphics, which supports certain specific features like EMF/WMF support. The absence of GDI+ makes it harder to offer this feature on non-Windows systems.

Relying as heavily as it does on hardware, software and network compatibility, successfully implementing printing support can be especially difficult on mobile. While Quartz can be used on iOS to render PDFs for viewing, the results might not be consistently great for many files. Of course, that is part of why there is room for PDF specialists like us to enter the frame.

As we continue to move forward with our mobile SDK, we look forward to continuing our open dialog with you, our developers. Specifically, we’ll want to get your early testing impressions from Debenu Labs, and of course any feature requests that might be incorporated into future builds.

Posted in Articles, Debenu Quick PDF Library | Tagged | Leave a comment

Reducing PDF File Size (Optimizing PDFs), Part 1

By Dan Shea, Planet PDF Contributing Editor.

Originally posted at Planet PDF.Untitled

PDF is a mature technology that now has that standing of a de jure standard, controlled
as it now is by an official standards body (the ISO). Between them, the ISO and Adobe before it have built PDF into a powerful and versatile format. It might not be capable of being all things to all people, but its flexibility is undiminished for all that.

The thing is that, while the PDF technology can now handle the inclusion of everything and the kitchen sink, it’s generally not a good idea to try getting it all into a single document. The format can be, well, many things to many people, but individual PDF files can’t. Instead, it’s better to optimize each document for its intended purpose, audience and delivery method.

“Optimizing” a PDF is often focused on reducing its file size by removing unnecessary elements. Of course, the usage case is what determines which parts are important enough to keep. In general, it is often desirable to include only crucial content elements to ensure a (relatively) lightweight file that can be easily emailed, uploaded, downloaded or whatever.

With the proliferation of high-speed internet connections and the always-online culture associated with mobile devices, optimization has become a more nuanced concept. File size is still important, especially if you want mobile users to be able to access your PDFs on-the-go. That said, if the document’s purpose justifies it and your users are all working with broadband connections, why not include those high-quality graphics or fancy bells and whistles like video, dynamic content and 3D? Certain settings like printing workflows might even require the use of large PDFs that contain high-quality images.

So, how best to go about optimizing your PDF documents? First, think about your reasons for producing the document, the identity of your audience, and how they will consume the document. Do you have any special regulatory or accessibility requirements?

The remainder of this article will have a practical look at the nuts and bolts of optimizing PDFs. Rather than try to consider all of the possible usage cases, the following instructional part will focus on reducing PDF file size. I’ll outline how to check which elements are contributing most to file size, touch on some of the things that can make PDFs bigger, and then talk about how to trim down your PDFs using Acrobat.

Using the Save As command

As the final step before sending off your PDF for delivery, whatever that means in your setting, use the Save As command (File > Save As). Why? When you perform a normal Save, Acrobat appends any changes to the PDF file. While these changes are invisible in a standard PDF viewer, they still contribute to total file size. Using the Save As command discards this information, rewriting the PDF in the most efficient way possible and reducing its file size. This will also enable Fast Web View, which improves online viewing by allowing viewers to download each page as they read it rather than waiting for the entire document to download.

In short, Save As should always be your last step before sending off your PDFs.

Compressing PDF Files 728x90PDF Optimizer

Acrobat has a very handy feature. Well, OK, it has quite a few handy features, but the one I mean now is called the PDF Optimizer. It’s pretty seamlessly integrated into the Acrobat interface, so it’s possible that you have been using Acrobat for years and either haven’t used it or haven’t realized that you’ve already been using it.

Intrigued? Acrobat’s PDF Optimizer is actually sort of hidden behind our new friend, the Save As command (File > Save As). If you choose “Adobe PDF Files, Optimized”, the greyed-out “Settings” button will become live, and clicking on it opens the PDF Optimizer interface.

If you just choose to Save As an optimized PDF without opening the PDF Optimizer interface, Acrobat will still optimize your PDF based on its current settings, which may well reduce file size. Regardless, it will still efficiently re-write your PDF just like the “vanilla” Save As PDF option. While that’s a good start, you may well be able to minimize file size by adjusting the settings some.

Audit space usage

Before you start removing content elements, downsampling images and the like, it’s helpful to identify what is actually taking up the most space in your PDF. Luckily, the PDF Optimizer has a feature that can handle just this sort of thing. To activate it, just click on the “Audit space usage…” button in the top-right of the PDF Optimizer window. If you have any trouble finding the button, this video outlines how to find it in Acrobat. You’ll then get a dialog that will break down your PDF by the space used by each type of content. It will also tell you the percentage of total file size accounted for by each content type. This will tell you where you can best direct your attention to produce the biggest reductions in total file size.

That’s the end of Part 1. In Part 2, Dan outlines how to use the PDF Optimizer.

Posted in Articles, Planet PDF | Leave a comment

Debenu PDF Aerialist Pharma and Acrobat versus the FDA PDF guidelines

A while back, I wrote a blog post comparing TRS ToolBox with the dynamic duo of Aerialist Pharma and Acrobat for preparing regulatory submissions. Since then, a lot of you have quite reasonably asked how Aerialist Pharma and Acrobat align with the US FDA regulations themselves, rather than with other products seeking to solve the same problems. That is a fair enough question, I think, and this post is my answer to you.


There will always be a link to the most recent version of the guidelines here, but as of today, the current guidelines are here (in PDF, of course). Given the importance and stringency of the regulations, this document is surprisingly succinct, clear and simple. In the following sections, I have outlined each of the key areas mentioned, common areas of difficulty, along with the relevant functionality of Aerialist Pharma and Acrobat.

PDF Version

FDA Guidelines: The FDA accepts PDF versions 1.4 to 1.7. Specifically, submitted PDF files must be compatible with Acrobat 8.0, without requiring additional software like plug-ins.

Response: This is almost trivially easy to accomplish in Acrobat. If you haven’t originally created your PDFs using one of the acceptable versions, you can easily convert them using Acrobat’s PDF Optimizer (accessible via Save As > PDF, Optimized, click “Settings”). This conversion process can also be performed on thousands of PDF files at once using Acrobat’s Action Wizard (Tools > Action Wizard).


FDA Guidelines: The guidelines stipulate that you can’t change the security on any PDFs used in your submission. Specifically, that means that you shouldn’t add security to your own documents (i.e., they should not be secured), and don’t modify the settings on the secured forms provided by the FDA (some forms are configured to prevent unauthorized changes).

Response: In general, this won’t require any action on the part of the user, since it essentially requires users to avoid changing security settings. All of this means that you might need to remove security from some of your own PDF files, which can be done in Acrobat (File > Properties, Security tab) if you have the appropriate privileges or password.


FDA Guidelines: It’s important that your documents can be displayed consistently across machines. When a font is embedded, every glyph in that font is included in the PDF. That ensures that the PDF contains everything needed to consistently display its text content with appropriate formatting (i.e., the PDF is self-contained). Fonts that are not embedded can result in inconsistent appearance, structure, and can alter apparent meaning in some cases. This is because locally available fonts will be substituted for unembedded fonts unless the same fonts are installed on the viewing machine.

Response: Font embedding can be checked (File > Properties, navigate to Fonts tab) or completed (Tools > Print Production > Preflight) in Acrobat. Acrobat can also be used to process large batches of PDFs via its Action Wizard.

Page Orientation

FDA Guidelines: Page orientation must be such that reviewers don’t need to rotate pages. The most common manifestation of the problem is when landscape pages are not correctly oriented.

Response: This can be done easily for entire documents in Acrobat (Tools > Pages > Rotate). Acrobat allows you to select rotation angle, page range, and original orientation for rotation. This allows you to, for example, rotate all landscape pages counter-clockwise by 90 degrees. Again, the Action Wizard allows for this task to be completed in bulk.

Page Size and Margins

FDA Guidelines: Pages need to fit on a Letter (8.5″ x 11″) standard sheet and have a margin of at least 3/4″ on the left (portrait) or top (landscape) of the page, and at least 3/8″ on other sides. This allows for binding.

Response: If page sizes or margins are not sufficient to meet requirements when PDFs are originally created, these can be altered using the imposition features of Debenu PDF Aerialist Pharma (Tools > Debenu PDF Aerialist Pharma 11 > Imposition).

Source of Electronic Documents

FDA Guidelines: While not a firm requirement, this guideline recommends against the use of scanned documents. If they are used, they must be processed via Optical Character Recognition (OCR) and validated to ensure faithful, searchable text.

Response: Acrobat itself can be used to create PDF files with searchable text from any number of document formats. When working with scanned or other image-based documents, Acrobat’s built-in OCR feature (Tools > Text Recognition) can scan images to produce searchable text within documents. This can also be conducted across many files using Acrobat’s Action Wizard.

Methods for Creating PDF Document and Images

FDA Guidelines: These guidelines stipulate that grayscale and color should be used only when necessary, and that image resolution should be set to 300 dpi, except for photographs, gels and karyotypes, which require 600 dpi.

Response: As long as the original images are of sufficient quality, images can be selectively downsampled using Acrobat’s PDF Optimizer (accessible via Save As > PDF, Optimized > Settings). Individual images can also be downsampled using Acrobat’s Edit Object Tool (Tools > Print Production > Edit Object) and a suitable image editor like Photoshop.

Image Compression to Reduce File Size

FDA Guidelines: The FDA guidelines stipulate lossless compression of images. They mandate Zip (AKA Flate) for color and grayscale images, and CCITT Group 4 for black and white images (e.g., faxes).

Response: These compression techniques are supported by Acrobat. Image compression settings can be configured using Acrobat’s PDF Optimizer (accessible via Save As > PDF, Optimized > Settings).

Optimize for Fast Web View

FDA Guidelines: This option needs to be set to allow for faster opening of PDF files. This allows users or readers to download one page at a time rather than having to wait for the entire file to download before they can view the document.

Response: This option can be enabled in the (hopefully) now-familiar PDF Optimizer (see above). In the PDF Optimizer, this can be enabled by selecting the Clean Up tab and and checking “Optimize the PDF for fast web view”.

Image Color Matching

FDA Guidelines: The guidelines state that CMYK (i.e., print-based) color spaces offer more control than RGB (screen-based) ones, and that the International Color Consortium (ICC) color profile specification should be used when printing.

Response: Color matching is an extremely exacting process. While it’s possible to convert any images into an appropriate color space using Acrobat’s Print Production tools (Tools > Print Production), this will not by itself guarantee fidelity between the final document and the image creator’s intent, as the image was not created in that color space. Nevertheless, converting images into an appropriate color space can at least improve consistency between the submission as sent (i.e., post-conversion) and received (i.e., as it arrives in the reviewer’s inbox).

Despite Acrobat’s powerful capabilities here, conversion should be combined with testing and, if necessary, color correction to ensure the highest level of consistency when this is important to the submission. The better solution, of course, is to create the images using the same color space as that used in the submission version, precluding the need for conversion.


FDA Guidelines and Response: These are not required for PDF submissions, or indeed any PDFs, as thumbnails can be automatically generated by viewing software.

Hypertext Linking and Bookmarks in Text and Table of Contents

FDA Guidelines: The guidelines endorse the liberal use of hyperlinks throughout PDF files to facilitate navigation within and between documents. When they are used, hyperlinks should be designated by thin rectangles or blue text. To minimize confusion, a consistent design is recommended. It is also recommended that relative rather than absolute paths are used to ensure that inter-document links are not broken when files are copied to a new location.

For documents containing tables of contents (TOCs), the guidelines state that both bookmarks and links should be created for each entry. The use of invisible rectangles and blue text is recommended to signal hyperlinks without obscuring important text. Bookmarks must be hierarchical, organized in precisely the same way as TOC entries (up to four levels deep). Finally, all links and bookmarks should be set to “Inherit Zoom” to ensure a consistent reading experience.

Response: Using Acrobat, users can manually create, edit or delete bookmarks and links (Tools > Content Editing). Acrobat can also be used to remove all links from a PDF (Tools > Document Processing > Remove All Links). Debenu PDF Aerialist Pharma adds a range of powerful options here, many of which can be used to process large batches of documents via their compatibility with Acrobat’s Action Wizard. These are set out in more detail, below.


First of all, Aerialist Pharma can be used to dynamically create links based on keywords (Tools > Debenu PDF Aerialist Pharma 11 > Links > Create Keyword Links) or page numbers (Tools > Debenu PDF Aerialist Pharma 11 > Links > Create Page Links), which is ideal for adding links to an existing TOC. Links can also be imported or exported between PDFs (Tools > Debenu PDF Aerialist Pharma 11 > Links > Export/Import Links).

Aerialist Pharma can also be used to modify link properties throughout a given document (Tools > Debenu PDF Aerialist Pharma 11 > Links > Set Link(s) Properties), which can be used to modify the appearance and behavior (e.g., setting zoom level) of links to conform with FDA guidelines.

Additionally, Aerialist Pharma can selectively delete all links or just dead ones (Tools > Debenu PDF Aerialist Pharma 11 > Links > Delete Links), and features a link auditor (Tools > Debenu PDF Aerialist Pharma 11 > Links > Audit Links) that can be used to find and fix broken links and bookmarks. Aerialist Pharma’s functionality also allows users to generate reports about problem links, bookmarks, external dependencies, or simply count links (Tools > Debenu PDF Aerialist Pharma 11 > Links > Reports).


Meanwhile, Aerialist Pharma also allows the dynamic creation of bookmarks based on existing TOCs or folder structure or folder structure (Tools > Debenu PDF Aerialist Pharma 11 > Bookmarks > Add Bookmarks, click Import), text formatting such as headings (Tools > Debenu PDF Aerialist Pharma 11 > Bookmarks > Build Bookmarks). Like links, bookmarks can also be imported or exported between PDFs (Tools > Debenu PDF Aerialist Pharma 11 > Bookmarks > Add Bookmarks, click Import or Export) or settings files (Tools > Debenu PDF Aerialist Pharma 11 > Bookmarks > Build Bookmarks, click Import). Aerialist Pharma can also bind separate documents, adding a shared bookmark structure to all selected documents (Tools > Debenu PDF Aerialist Pharma 11 > Bookmarks > Bind Documents).

Bookmarks can be searched (Tools > Debenu PDF Aerialist Pharma 11 > Bookmarks > Find Bookmarks), sorted (Tools > Debenu PDF Aerialist Pharma 11 > Bookmarks > Sort Bookmarks), or deleted (Tools > Debenu PDF Aerialist Pharma 11 > Bookmarks > Delete Bookmarks), and their properties can be edited in bulk using Aerialist Pharma (Tools > Debenu PDF Aerialist Pharma 11 > Bookmarks > Edit All Properties). They also benefit from the reporting, auditing and fixing options noted above for links.

Tables of Contents

Aerialist Pharma allows for the dynamic creation of document or master (i.e., inter-document) tables of contents from bookmarks, headings/text formatting, file and folder structure (Tools > Debenu PDF Aerialist Pharma 11 > Table of Contents).

Initial View Settings

FDA Guidelines: PDFs should be set to show “Bookmarks Panel and Page” unless there are no bookmarks, in which case, they should be set to “Page Only”. Default settings should be used for Page Layout and Magnification.

Response: These settings are easily accessible in Acrobat (File > Properties in the Initial View tab), and can be set for large batches of PDF files using Acrobat’s handy Action Wizard.

Page Numbering

FDA Guidelines: Page numbers should match between document and file (i.e., the initial page should be page 1) unless the submission has been split into multiple files. In this case, page numbering should match intended logical reading order without duplication. For example, if sections of the submission are separated into different files and Section 1 ends at page 10, Section 2 should commence on page 11.

Response: This can be accomplished, with different sets of options, using either Acrobat (Tools > Pages > Header & Footer) or Aerialist Pharma (Tools > Debenu PDF Aerialist Pharma 11 > Stamps).

Naming PDF Files

FDA Guidelines: These guidelines stipulate that PDF file names use lower case letters and avoid special characters aside from hyphens or underscores.

Response: While no separate application is needed to name or rename PDF files, Acrobat’s Action Wizard does allow users to add prefixes and suffixes to output file names in bulk as they are processed.

Special Considerations for Promotional Material

FDA Guidelines: These guidelines relate to the submission of promotional material. As such, they require high resolution (minimum 600 dpi), consistent color display (see Image Color Matching, above), and should be submitted according to their actual size.

Response: Again, Acrobat allows for image downsampling and color space conversion, but as noted earlier, this may not be advisable without subsequent testing. Acrobat and PDF support very large page sizes, so the requirement for size fidelity is unlikely to run up against hard size limits.

Other Concerns

Long-Term Archiving of Documents

While it is not explicitly listed in the FDA guidelines for PDF, it can also be important to archive submissions. In the case of PDF, there is are several formal standards for this, known variously as PDF/A-1 (ISO 19005-1:2005), PDF/A-2 (ISO 19005-2:2011) and PDF/A-3 (ISO 19005-3:2012).

Acrobat supports these standards admirably. Acrobat’s Preflight tools support compliance-checking and conversion to these standards via pre-configured profiles (Tools > Print Production > Preflight, expand “PDF/A compliance”).

Presentation Fidelity

It is crucial that PDF submissions are identical in appearance to their paper equivalents. This consistency ensures that no information is lost in translation. This particular point speaks most to the choice of format for submissions. PDF’s page fidelity, cross-platform compatibility and (if appropriately prepared) self-contained nature make it an ideal transfer format.

Standardization of Document Processes

Human error is a random variable that can confound even quite sophisticated processes. As a rule, standardizing procedures and reducing manual handling minimize the risk of error. The ability of Aerialist Pharma and Acrobat to automate time- and labor-intensive processes within and across documents significantly reduce manual handling and hence, the risk of human error.

Final Thoughts

In concluding, I would like to reiterate that you can meet all of your PDF compliance requirements for US FDA submissions by using a combination of Acrobat and Aerialist Pharma. Some of the FDA’s guidelines, frankly, are best met at the content creation stage (color matching and correction come to mind). Even then, Acrobat and Aerialist Pharma can help with meeting one’s compliance burden with sub-optimal source content. Used together, Acrobat and Aerialist Pharma can drastically reduce manual handling time, improve consistency and minimize the risk of human error. As a result, your submissions will be more likely to be note-perfect when initially sent. This in turn reduces the significant costs, administration and lost opportunities associated with re-submission. Given that it can form such an integral part of the workflow, it is work noting that there is a fully-functional trial version of Debenu PDF Aerialist Pharma available. For that matter, there is also a free trial of Acrobat available from Adobe’s website. Why not try them out? We’re happy to help you get set up and answer any questions you might have.

Posted in Articles, Debenu PDF Aerialist, Debenu PDF Aerialist Pharma | Leave a comment