Converting Postscript to PDF and vice versa, and printing

An experience report.



Software used:

For IVME'03 I had to process the submitted papers into formats easily printable by the reviewers, i.e. Postscript and PDF (although it is beyond me why anybody would prefer PDF to Postscript for printing). This page describes my experiences with that.

41 papers were submitted, originally 22 in Postscript and 19 in PDF. Eventually I got all except one to print on our HP Laserjet 4000N or our Minolta MagiColor 3100 (both Postscript printers):

One of the PDF files contained a Chinese font; it caused gs to crash and the Acrobat reader to report an error and stop printing. Xpdf-0.92 and its pdftops could process the paper, reporting errors for (and presumably not showing) the Chinese fonts. I then asked the authors of the paper for another version, and they sent me a Postscript file that printed and could be processed without problems.

Dealing with the Postscript files

All the Postscript files could be viewed with gv/gs. They eventually printed without problems, but there were some problems on the first try:

The LaserJet apparently kept some state across jobs, and did not complete printing all papers I sent (basically all B/W/Grayscale papers). After power-cycling it, these problems were gone.

The Minolta printer insists on Letter size paper, when the document asks for it, and does not accept A4 paper as replacement (I guess people who only have Letter paper have the converse problem). I eliminated these problems by commenting out stuff like

%%BeginPaperSize: ...
in all papers. You can use this awk script to do this. After that, the papers I tried (usually those with colour) printed fine on the Minolta.

I converted the Postscript papers to PDF with ps2pdf, and the resulting papers looked fine with gv/gs. Many of them look pretty bad with the Acrobat reader because the Acrobat reader does not render Type 3 fonts well. We tested printing of these files from Windows (on Unix the printing would require converting the stuff back to Postscript, a pretty pointless exercise): Both programs produced about the same print quality (with GSview printing to the LaserJet as Windows GDI printer), which is quite readable, but not as good as from the original Postscript file (more like a 300dpi printer, whereas the Laserjet is 1200dpi+RET).

Some more experiments with different file formats and Gsview print drivers revealed that the Postscript file resulted in high quality with all drivers, and the PDF file resulted in 300dpi-quality with all drivers, so apparently the Type 3 fonts lose quality on conversion to PDF (with ps2pdf, at least).

Dealing with the PDF files

The PDF files viewed fine with gv/gs (apart from complaints about non-stanadard %%EOFs) and (more slowly) with xpdf. However, they did not print well to our Postscript printers from gv (with conversion to Postscript by gs); I got only 6 out of 19 papers on the first try with gv/gs. This seems to be related to the output driver of gs: it is not very good at outputting Postscript, and much better at rendering to X11 and Windows GDI printers. So, if you have a non-Postscript printer, go ahead and try printing PDF (and Postscript) files with gs.

The way to convert the PDF files to Postscript and eventually to print them was to use pdftops on them. This succeeded on converting all files to Level 2 Postscript (it crashed on two files when asked to produce Level 1 Postscript), and I could print the resulting files without problem.

Anton Ertl