Standard AFP to PDF Conversion Process

When tackling the configuration of an AFP file conversion, it is important to understand the objectives. Here you will find the process to evaluate an AFP file, convert it to XML, and then convert to PDF. This provides all the steps to produce a high fidelity replication in the finalized PDF product. You will want to follow these steps.

  • Before you begin your conversion
  • Evaluate the AFP (PageMapper – AFP to XML)
  • Convert PageMapper XML to PDF (PDF Converter – XML to PDF)
  • Evaluate the PDF Output
  • Evaluate the full AFP to PDF Conversion

Before you begin your conversion

  • Determine the origins of the AFP. Was it produced from line data using a PageDef? Was it produced by Exstream? When evaluating the AFP, these questions will help get to some answers if there are missing resources or data from the AFP file.
  • Gather all required resources. Preferably inline in a standard AFP resource group. Many AFP programs have a boolean value to include resources “inline”. If not inline then as separate resource objects that you can place in a resource library (folder).
  • Ensure you meet the system requirements.

Evaluate the AFP (PageMapper – AFP to XML)

The PageMapper can run as both a batch command line program or interactively with a GUI interface. During this phase it is recommended that you use the GUI. You can easily modify and save the configuration this way and then use it with the command line interface.

  • Place all separate resource objects in the resource libraries pointed to by the AFPResourceLib tag in the AFPResourceLib.xml file. More configuration details are located here.
  • Select the debug = yes option. Run the AFP file with both the list and the map formats. The PageMapper Configurations page lists the all options.
  • The will create XML files that will allow you to determine the type of objects that are used in the AFP.
  • Check the PageMapper log file for errors. The error log will indicate if resources are missing and if there are font code page issues.
  • Resolve any missing resources by getting them from the AFP source, creating them or by other means.
  • Most of the code page errors will need to be resolved before you can proceed to PDF conversion.
  • Resolve font code page and character set issues. If you are missing character sets the font character widths will be indeterminate which can lead to incorrect character placement.
  • Make custom font configuration changes to map non-standard code page glyph names. If this is problematic you may be able to simply turn on Type 3 fonts for that problem font which will then work for PDF but the text will be garbled (unreadable) in the XML and have a graphical representation of the font in the PDF.

Convert PageMapper XML to PDF (PDF Converter – XML to PDF)

Select Type 3 fonts = ALL and Type 1 fonts = all in the properties panel. Run the MAP XML file and create a PDF. This will give you a quick and dirty PDF file that in many cases has sufficient fidelity with regard to printing. The result is a large PDF file that does not view well. This is because all the fonts are bitmap format. Decide if this is good enough. If print is the only concern this may be all you need.

If font mapping or substitution is desired, you will need to change the Type 3 fonts to include or exclude. And then the font configurations will need to be updated in the AFP resource library file.

A full suite of options are also available such as encryption, PDF version, splitting, indexing, and much more. Those can be found on the PDF Converter configurations page.

Test all finalized configurations by running the process from end to end with the PageMapper and PDF Converter.

Evaluate the full AFP to PDF Conversion

Now that all the customized configurations are complete in the PageMapper and PDF Converter, the combined utility can be used as a single step.

Update the AFP to PDF configuration to reference the two configuration files associated with previous two steps. These configuration files can also be passed in the command line, so there may not be a need to have an additional configuration file specific to the AFP to PDF tool. However, there may be some additional configurations you want to make specific to AFP to PDF, such as saving the XML.