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Batch Processing

No, I'm not talking about micro-brewing. I'm talking about automating and streamlining routine file-preparation tasks (on one or more PDF files) using Acrobat's batch-processing capabilities. The software ships with a number of predefined JavaScript processes, including Set Security to No Changes, Save All as RTF, and Remove All Attachments (for example, audio comments). You can edit or create new batch sequences related to page operations (crop and renumber, for example), comments (delete or summarize), document commands (print, extract contents), JavaScript actions (any that you author, or one of several document-level actions that ship with Acrobat, such as close or print), and PDF Consultant capabilities (Space Audit, remove bad links). You can batch-process a single operation or string together a series of processes and apply them to one or more PDF files. And batch sequence files, which have a .sequ extension, can be shared and used by others if they're in the Sequences folder in the Acrobat application folder. In short, batch sequences go a long way toward streamlining all kinds of routine preproduction tasks.

To see the batch processes that ship with Acrobat, choose File > Batch Processing, and the list will appear in a submenu. When you choose one, such as Print 1st Page of All, Acrobat displays a Run Sequence Confirmation dialog box (Figure 4-48): This shows what tasks will be performed before you select the files to be processed (input), and tells you where the processed files will be saved. You can't edit the sequence here (that is, toggle on or off individual operations), though that would certainly be a nice option. The Run Sequence Confirmation dialog box simply provides a visual cue for the tasks that the sequence will perform. An ellipsis in the white box to the left of the gear icon indicates “toggle interactive mode,” which means you'll be prompted to modify or confirm the operation when it's executed, so stick around.

Figure 4-48. The Run Sequence Confirmation dialog box.

Before you learn how to create new batch processes or edit the ones that came with Acrobat, check out the Batch Processing panel of your Preferences dialog box (Edit > Preferences > General). If you want to cancel the Run Sequence Confirmation prompt that appears whenever you initiate a batch sequence, uncheck the top box (Figure 4-49). And it's always a good idea to check Save Warnings and Errors in Log File so that you can document and fix problems. If you're batch-processing encrypted files, you can select the appropriate handler from the Security Handler pop-up menu. This will prompt you to enter a password when a secured file is opened for processing.

Figure 4-49. The Batch Processing panel of the Preferences dialog box.

Now let's create a sequence that will summarize a PDF document's comments and save them separately for reference. We'll then run PDF Consultant to remove all comments as well as actions, cross-references, and image alternates. Choose File > Batch Processing > Edit Batch Sequences. The Batch Sequences dialog box (Figure 4-50) is where you manage your sequences (for example, deleting, renaming, adding, editing, or running them). Click New Sequence. Enter a name for your sequence—“Summarize and Clean Up,” in my example—and then click OK. You should now be in the Batch Edit Sequence dialog box (Figure 4-51).

Figure 4-50. The Batch Sequences dialog box.

Figure 4-51. The Batch Edit Sequence dialog box.

Defining a batch sequence is a three-step process: First, you must choose the commands, then you must determine how to run the sequence, and finally you need to specify what to do with processed files. Start by clicking Select Commands to open the Edit Sequence dialog box (Figure 4-52). Here you can scroll through the left list of possible batch commands, select one, and click Add to move it to the right and make it part of your sequence. You can rearrange the order of the commands by selecting them individually and clicking Move Up or Move Down. You can remove a command by clicking Remove. And you can edit the options for each command by selecting it and clicking Edit. For my Summarize Comments command, for example, I've opted to sort by author instead of by page, and I've created a special folder where I want to save them. You can toggle the command into interactive mode by clicking the box to the left of the gear icon, as I've done with the Detect and Remove command: This will pause the command and allow you to modify options before it's executed—in case you want to leave some attachments intact. When you're satisfied with your sequence, click OK to return to the Batch Edit Sequence dialog box.

Figure 4-52. The Edit Sequence dialog box.

The commands you've selected should appear in the Sequence Preview box. Now determine when you want the sequence to run: You can run it on any currently open files (Files Open in Acrobat); you can let the user determine when to run it (Ask When Sequence is Run); or you can choose specific files or folders (Selected Files, Selected Folder, respectively) to process.

In all but the first case, you can also choose how you want to handle processed files: From the Select Output Location pop-up menu, you can choose Same as Original(s) to save the new file with the same name and in the same location as the unprocessed file (bad idea). If you choose to save in the same location as the original file, be sure to click Output Options and indicate that you want to rename the processed file—by adding, in my example, the suffix “cleanedup” between the original file name and its extension (Figure 4-53). Check “Do not overwrite existing files” to be extra cautious, and specify the file format of the new file: PDF, EPS, JPEG, PNG, RTF, TIFF, or raw PostScript. You'll want some of those file formats if your batch sequence extracts text or graphic content.

Figure 4-53. The Output Options dialog box.

You can also select Specific Folder and click Choose to browse and save processed files in a folder other than the source folder; or you can choose Ask When Sequence is Run if you want to let the user determine where processed files are stored (should the desired location be subject to change, for example).

That's all, folks (Figure 4-54). When you're satisfied, click OK. You can run the sequence immediately from the Batch Sequences dialog box, or you can close out of it and run the sequence anytime by choosing File > Batch Processing > Summarize and Clean Up.

Figure 4-54. A completed batch sequence.

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