15 Replies Latest reply: Mar 30, 2013 3:35 AM by Peter Spier RSS

    When will we be able to open and edit PDF documents in Indesign?

    Paal Joachim Community Member

      Hi

       

      It would be nice if Indesign could open PDF files.

       

      When will this happen (without a plugin)?

       

      Today I need to open the files in Illustrator. The customer prefers to use Indesign, so even though Indesign can export pdf documents I will have to tell the customer and the program can not open pdf files. This I find really weird.

       

      Hopefully opening and editing pdf files in Indesign will happen real soon.

       

      Have a great day!

        • 1. Re: When will we be able to open and edit PDF documents in Indesign?
          [Jongware] MVP

          Hopefully never.

           

          Even opening any random PDF in Illustrator doesn't work, and I'm 100% sure you already found that out the hard way. PDFs are simply not meant to be edited in general.

           

          If you want to get an approximation of an existing PDF into InDesign, purchase PDF2ID -- http://www.recosoft.com/products/pdf2id/ (I deliberately call this an "approximation" because even though Recosoft does wonders, they cannot do miracles).

          • 2. Re: When will we be able to open and edit PDF documents in Indesign?
            Paal Joachim Community Member

            The thing is that Illustrator works most of the time when I bring in pdf files even though the layers look weird. I am able to edit the various elements.

             

            It would be nice if Illustrator and Indesign both were improved for editing pdf files.

            • 3. Re: When will we be able to open and edit PDF documents in Indesign?
              Peter Spier ACP/MVPs

              Markzware is also curently testing a plugin for opening PDFs in ID and one for Quark, as well. I tried to sign up for the public beta, but alas they develop for Mac and only port to Windows at the end of the process.

               

              Given their excellent track record with the Q2ID Quark conversion plugin, I have pretty high hopes, but as Jongware points out there are such vast structural differences in the formats (not to mention within PDFs created bay the myriad converters and applications with PDF capabilities, not all of which necessarily adhere to the specs) that It is pretty much inevitable that these files will be only starting points for heavy editing. PDF just doesn't carry a lot of the information that is used in ID -- styles, master pages, swatches... -- so a converter either has to ignore those things or make them up based on guesses derived from some sort of pattern in the file, not an easy task.

              • 4. Re: When will we be able to open and edit PDF documents in Indesign?
                Paal Joachim Community Member

                What about starting at basics?

                 

                Step 0.

                Can Indesign open this specific pdf file?

                 

                Step 1.

                Indesign opens a pdf file. Can it read some of the pdf creation software code? I bet there are certain standards perhaps used in different ways that Indesign can recognize and use.

                 

                Step 2.

                Give a warning that pdf file code can vary so much that Indesign might not understand enough of it to make it editible. Or say something like Indesign will do it's best to bring in the pdf file and hopefully also make it editible. Atleast the user will have brought in the pdf file, and can add to it.

                 

                Step 3.

                Let's say that Indesign does understand certain pdf code that is used in most pdf creation software. Layers could then be available for edit.

                 

                Step 4.

                Indesign translates some of the common code into Indesign language. Makes the pdf even more Indesign friendly.

                 

                Conclusion:

                This might be difficult and require some work by the Indesign programmers, but it is very likely a very high sought out feature for Indesign.

                So the code might work with some pdf's and not with other pdf files. Give it a shot and try it out. It can only get better. Give the user a chance to open pdf files in Indesign. If you need a test pilot I am willing to help out the way that I can.

                • 5. Re: When will we be able to open and edit PDF documents in Indesign?
                  Peter Spier ACP/MVPs

                  In fact it probably isn't enough of a demand to divert Adobe resources when there is already one, and soon to be another, third-party plugin available. It's pretty unlikely, too, that Adobe would deliberately include as part of the program any feature that could only read some PDFs. This is not quite the same as, for example, not reading Quark files version 5 or higher (due to a change in format and legal restictions against decryption) because PDF is a standard and is intended to be read by any any application that reads PDF regardless of what application produced it, if the producer and reader both conform to the standard. We hear a lot of complaints about Mac Preview and complex PDF. Imagine what would happen if ID failed to open 75% of the files, or even just one very important one -- yours.

                  • 6. Re: When will we be able to open and edit PDF documents in Indesign?
                    [Jongware] MVP

                    Paal, can you be our test pilot to examine if this project is feasable? E.g., first learn the internal structure of a PDF (it's actually very straightforward), then write a program that is able to read *anything* out of a PDF file. If you succeed, go on to discern pages, text frames, columns, continuing paragraphs, individual characters, and formatting.

                     

                    Post back here when you got to that point -- I have a backlog of really challenging PDFs for you to dive into.

                    • 7. Re: When will we be able to open and edit PDF documents in Indesign?
                      Paal Joachim Community Member

                      In my innocence of not knowing enough about the innards of Indesign or pdf structure I share an abstract idea.

                      It seems the idea in it's self is a good one, but a high floating one that does not touch the ground of the problems facing a program as it opens an unfamilier pdf file.

                       

                      It looks like I will continue to use Illustrator to open the few pdf files that I need and edit the files there. Hopefully it will work with the files I need. Since it seems the pdf's I am working on lately has actually been created in Indesign, opening them in Illustrator creates a clear mess instead of a messy mess. And I can edit them as well.

                       

                      Hopefully Adobe will find a masterful stroke to add to both programs making the artists stroke work better with pdf files.

                      • 8. Re: When will we be able to open and edit PDF documents in Indesign?
                        John Hawkinson Community Member

                        Paul, I'm not sure if anyone pointed it out, but Acrobat Pro will let you do (limited) edits on InDesign-produced PDFs without a mess.

                        It's just that the limitations are quite limiting.

                        • 9. Re: When will we be able to open and edit PDF documents in Indesign?
                          [Jongware] MVP

                          Paal, I'm sorry for that little out-lash. There is nothing wrong with inquiring the feasability of a new feature. The problem is that PDF has been an "output intended format" from the very beginning.

                           

                          An Illustrator file (from a fairly modern version) also is a PDF file, for all intents and purposes. You can rename an .AI file to .PDF and use it anywhere, with any software that supports PDF (so that's excepting Apple's Preview, probably ;-) ). Moreover, you can still open and edit this PDF with Illustrator and get all of your objects, symbols, layers, paragraph styles, and guides back!

                           

                          That's because in fact this file *contains* all this extra information in a data block marked "For Private Use Only". Other software, if adhering to Adobe's PDF specs, will simply ignore this (and thus my little jab at Apple's Preview). Does that mean you can edit such a PDF with *any* software? No -- the Illustrator data is "proprietary", and the details are not published to use by other software developers. Similarly, one could envisage InDesign to do the same. Yes, it would lead to *huge* files -- but hey, you would be able to open THAT file into InDesign and edit it. But not with any other software!

                           

                          The meta-problem is that an extremely large amount of this private data would be *extremely* dependant on the software that was used to create it with. What would an Illustrator file do with InDesign's GREP styles? What would InDesign do with Illlustrator's brush styles, or symbols? Illustrator allows slanted guides, InDesign does not.

                          And let's not focus purely on a combo of ID and Illy; Photoshop *also* outputs PDFs, and its graphic data has yet another set of requirements.

                           

                          So all of Adobe's software would need to be able to parse *every others' data* to some degree. Well, it's still not "unconceivable" as all of this would need to be done in one office (note that in that single office there are still vast differences in something as straightforward as a User Interface across the CS suite). But there are lots of other software developers out there, and they *all* want to write out PDFs, all with their own internal data! (Think of the different requirements between an architectural app and one for graph plotting.)

                           

                          A *possible* solution would be to add "more" metadata to a PDF without crossing into the realm of "every single bit". Article tagging is an example of this -- it tells software that wants to know in which order *plain text* is to appear, and as such it serves as meta-data for plain text content. But the mind reels thinking of what more to add -- a list of used GREP styles per paragraph would probably be useless to anyone else.

                           

                          But such an idea will not solve the problem, as 1. this meta-data is optional (lazy programmers would be allowed to say "nothing to see here, move along"), and 2. this data would only get added to *newly created* files, and it would not retroactively make older PDFs editable ...

                           

                          (Now that's just the *short* version :-) h

                          • 10. Re: When will we be able to open and edit PDF documents in Indesign?
                            Paul Chadha Community Member

                            Hello Paal -

                             

                            We've been creating PDF conversion software for about 10 years. We pioneered PDF to InDesign conversions by releasing PDF2ID. The tool that everyone uses to convert PDFs to editable InDesign files. We even create PDF to Office (Word, Excel, PPT) and PDF to iWork (Pages, Keynote, Numbers) solution.

                             

                            PDFs come in various flavors. There is no such thing as a standard "PDF". There is a "PDF" standard but its not something everyone adheres to (we've had the experience over the years to build in many exception cases into our PDF conversion technology). A PDF is an archive format. Its fixed layout with many "high-level" properties missing (paragraphs, line layout, tables, Drop caps, Drop shadow, columns etc just to name a small list out of maybe a million). Just think of a PDF file containing object with nothing but else but an x,y location and width, height.

                             

                            Any PDF to something converter has to "guess" how to structure things on its own. Our tools have an advanced "Contextual Analytics" engine that accomplishes this process (its 10-years in making thus its evolved quite a bit). But alas its not perfect. The best way to get a PDF into an InDesign format, is to use PDF2ID (I use it everyday). It wont work 100% but it gets you close enough. We have trial versions and you should see it for yourself what it can accomplish.

                            • 11. Re: When will we be able to open and edit PDF documents in Indesign?
                              Paal Joachim Community Member

                              Hi John

                              I took a look at Adobe Acrobat Pro, but prefer to use Indesign if possible or Illustrator. Acrobat Pro ilooks totally different then the other Adobe software.

                               

                              Hi Jongware

                              Thanks for your response! Since I do not know the techical side of these matters your reply was interesting to read.

                               

                              Hello Paul.

                              It is nice to see that you have created PDF2ID software! It would be nice if Adobe also had picked up the thread 10 years or more ago and had incorporated something similar to this into Indesign. But of course PDF2ID is a helpful extra software for those who need to edit pdf files directly in Indesign.

                               

                               

                              The road I followed to place a pdf file into Indesign:

                              Downloaded the plugin http://indesignsecrets.com/placing-all-the-pages-of-a-pdf-inside-indesign.php

                              Added or rather correctly placed (meaning not editable) the pdf file (multi page) into Indesign. Went to the Masters Page added a logo element that was to be added to each page. It was covered by the placed pdf, so I added another layer to the Masters Page and draged the logo to it. The logo was now on top of the placed pdf pages. Some of the pdfs I added I could drag the top border (which is the around the image) down to cover the top of the page. Because the top elements of the pdf I did not need to use. Having the top free of the pdf file meant that the Masters page elements could come forth nicely without having to be disturbed by the pdf page elements.

                               

                              Some of the pdf files had a logo and titles in the top area. Which meant that I could not just drag the border around the pdf down to cover the top since the titles had to be in place for each page. In these cases I just added the logo to the first page beside the title and the manufactors logo. So the title, importers logo and the manufactors logo were then on the first page. The rest of the pdf pages I just left as they were.

                              These were various work arounds that I figured out which I wanted to share with others that might have some difficulty in a similar process. I am also thinking of creating a video tutorial adding it to my youtube channel: http://www.youtube.com/user/paaljoachim?feature=guide

                               

                              Have a great day!

                              • 12. Re: When will we be able to open and edit PDF documents in Indesign?
                                John Hawkinson Community Member

                                Paal Joachim wrote:

                                I took a look at Adobe Acrobat Pro, but prefer to use Indesign if possible or Illustrator. Acrobat Pro ilooks totally different then the other Adobe software.

                                Let's be perfectly clear.

                                Of all the tools discussed, Acrobat Pro is the only one that is designed for this problem and can non-destructively edit PDF files without loss of quality or compromise. (Yes, PDF2ID is designed for this, but no, it does not give you exactly the same output that you started from.)

                                 

                                Maybe in your case your edit is straightforward enough that this doesn't matter.

                                 

                                But in the general case, you should use Acrobat Pro. Yes, it is different. Yes, it is limited. But it is the right tool for the job, and avoiding the right tool because your are unfamiliar with it is not a good idea.

                                 

                                Best of luck!

                                • 13. Re: When will we be able to open and edit PDF documents in Indesign?
                                  Paal Joachim Community Member

                                  John: I agree it is important to use the correct tool for whatever job needs to be done. For me I chose to use Indesign since it would make it easier for the customer to later go back and make some minor corrections as it is a software the customer uses.

                                   

                                  Thank you!

                                  • 14. Re: When will we be able to open and edit PDF documents in Indesign?
                                    Asurani Community Member

                                    In my case (and many other case)

                                     

                                    I have a lot a big PDF with 10 to 50 pages

                                     

                                    I have to edit the pdf by changing Logo or contact-infos

                                     

                                    ON EVERY PAGE.

                                     

                                    So doing it in InDesign seem logical, since I can use MASTER PAGE, and apply it to all the pages,

                                    not doing it one by one...

                                     

                                    I don't know a lot about Acrobat X Pro, I used some of its feature for editing, but I didn't see something like InDesign for editing. (master page/gabarit, layout etc)

                                     

                                     

                                    ---

                                     

                                    And while reading other thread in forums.adobe.com,

                                    I've seen a lot of people saying : using indesign for editing pdf is like using photoshop to do it

                                     

                                    well no... InDesign does Keep the vector attribut of the graphic... so no GigaBytes of PDF in 300dpi.

                                     

                                     

                                    ---

                                     

                                    I thing it's stupid that Indesign allow you to "import PDF" when you have created a New document in InDesign and then place them one by one

                                     

                                    Why not doing it just by finding the edge/size of the PDF pages, and then batch-import them rapidly...? "a one click import"

                                     

                                    NO... YOU HAVE TO DO IT ONE BY ONE... and that stupid.

                                    • 15. Re: When will we be able to open and edit PDF documents in Indesign?
                                      Peter Spier ACP/MVPs

                                      I don't kow what's behind or surrounding the logo, but if it's amenable to having a frame with a filled background and a new logo placed over it to block out the original you can certainly do this in ID using a master page.

                                       

                                      Use Scott Zanelli's wonderful script to place the PDF in a new file (InDesignSecrets » Blog Archive » Zanelli Releases MultiPageImporter for Importing both PDF and INDD Files) then add a new layer above and on the master page put your new logo in it's filled frame in position.