Automated PDF Printing Workflows

Automated PDF Printing Workflows

Even with much talk and much progress on the “paperless future” over the past decades, printing remains one of the most common things users wish to do with PDF files. In his keynote presentation on the PDF State of the Union at PDF Days 2016, Leonard Rosenthol noted that fully one-quarter of users who open a PDF in Adobe Reader appear to then go on and print that same PDF. And automated PDF creation almost always has a print need.

However, reliable printing is exceptionally difficult. Proper printing means supporting the spectrum of PDF capabilities and translating these to proper print language command and operating system drawing primitives. The shared Adobe PDF technology behind Adobe Acrobat and the Adobe PDF Library features more than twenty continued years of refinement, improvement and development in PDF printing. In fact, Adobe PDF Library customers use the Adobe PDF Library to add print capabilities to their applications.

However, we realize many of you want to print PDFs in an automated fashion, without having to write an entire application to do so. It’s tempting to drive Adobe Reader or Acrobat from a server for printing, but this process is both error-prone and is expressly prohibited by those products’ licenses. While Datalogics has helped many write their own custom applications for print, we believe in continually challenging ourselves to make PDF easier to use for more people. One of the best ways we think we can do this is through offering an easy to use, server-based PDF printing workflow. Our vision is automated printing with the ability to define trigger events, printer destinations and print job characteristics.

Here’s where we’d like to reach out to you, our customers and PDF users. We strive to bring offerings that are as useful and relevant as possible, and would love to hear about your PDF printing needs and challenges. Would an automated PDF printing workflow be useful? We are interested in what you’ve tried in the past, plus advantages and pitfalls of your attempt. We would love to talk to you about your experience and needs. Please leave your comments or reach out to us if you’d like to have a conversation.

Thanks for your comments, thoughts and feedback on our products and our other articles!

3 thoughts on “Automated PDF Printing Workflows

  1. Most difficult part for this in my experience has been page sizes when multiple page sizes are included. Engineering firms will have letter, tabloid, and even oversize maps in a single pdf. Combined with pdfs from scanners that aren’t exact page sizes, pdfs from program outputs, pdfs from clients, and you end up with a variety. I have tried using preflighting and page size detections in acrobat, but have not found anything fully automatic. Although I do have ideas for detecting ranges of page sizes with tolerances and then doing corrections to the nearest valid paper size. Just not sure how to implement. Interested to see your approach.

    1. Hi Alan,

      Thank you for taking the time to participate in this discussion. This is certainly a great topic and one that can be difficult to work out. In our experience, customer applications have responded to that issue in various ways, such as:
      * simply rejecting the print job
      * pre-processing the pages to convert them to available tray sizes before printing (by adjusting the CropBox/MediaBox or scaling the contents)
      * letting the print tool or SDK shrink all pages to a single sheet size (ShrinkToFit)

      Of course, the choice will depend a lot on your specific environment and available printer capabilities. Our Print Workflow product, at least initially, won’t support multiple tray selection in a single print request. We are however considering this functionality for a future version.

      Acrobat’s automation facilities are great for some tasks, but as you’ve noted, not quite capable of making the types of changes that you have described. It is possible for toolkits such as the PDF Library to programmatically iterate through a document Page Tree and retrieve the page sizes. With that information, an application can then make adjustments to page dimensions.

      If you would like to discuss particular problems that you are experiencing at length, feel free to reach out to me at

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