Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Adobe: Acrobat, eh?

You must be very bendy.

Perhaps you could go fuck yourself?

Yup, grant crankiness time. As part of the current grant application, I need to assemble details of every grant currently held and applied for by all eight of the PIs - title, dates, source, amount, PI and co-applicants, % effort for all investigators, goals, and % overlap with the current proposal. There are a grand total of 53 grants - oh the joys of working with bigshots! I then need to assemble this list into a PDF which is also to include the abstract of every grant, in the same order as in the list of grant details.

Combining the 54 PDFs is a real barrel of laughs. My computer is old and grumpy at the best of times, and doesn't take too kindly to opening multiple files. Plus of course Acrobat only lets you open a certain number of files at once. So I have to batch them.

Now, being an organised sort of person, I give all my files and folders very logical names. Wouldn't you think that Acrobat would recognise this logic and list my files in the right order?

Well, you'd think wrong. Every time I start to combine a batch of PDFs, I get a list of open files that looks something like this:

and have to manually drag the files into the right order.

I really could do without this kind of thing.


  1. Ugh :( Don't you hate when these frickin' computer programs - which are supposed to make our lives easier - suck the life out of us? Hang in there!

  2. Sooo rubbish, adobe should definitely fix that...or better still grant bodies and journals should stop demanding things in PDFs. They really are rubbish and I think everyone would be served better by something else, pretty much anything else in fact!

  3. Adobe can be a nightmare. Maybe a dumb question, but can you create one long document in Word and then convert? I have had so many issues when compiling materials for large grants- Adobe seems to never order files in the way I want them to when I merge files. Often I give up and create the document in Word and convert. It can be more time-consuming to set up but is better for my stress level :) Just when we all master Adobe, I am sure NIH will find some other program to throw at us. Good luck with your submission!

  4. Cath, don't despair. There is an easier but more tedious way. Open the first document that you want the PDFs to be added to. Then use the keyboard shortcut, shift-control-I (or shift-command-I if on a mac); it opens up a dialog box asking you to point to the next file. Once you browse to the folder, it remembers it for subsequent actions. You point to the next file. Once you click OK, it asks where you want it appended. Choose 'after' the 'last page'. It remembers that too. Click OK.

    Lather, rinse, repeat. It would be faster than you think, and would save you a lot of headaches.


  5. Alyssa and Sam, thanks for the sympathy!

    PDFs are the absolute worst kind of grant format, except for all the others (I kinda like having that level of control, rather than using one of the funding agency's systems that takes your uploaded files and does weird things to them).

    Grant and Kausik, thanks for the advice! I might try Kausik's method next time (I'd actually finished combining all my files before I wrote this venty post, and I don't think I have to do any more merges)

  6. Cath, this post made me glad to be at the bench =)

  7. Gee, I'm so glad to have been helpful!


  8. Can I post some of your crankiness on my blog? That way, no one will know why I'm cranky. I'll pretend it's about grants instead of other BS things. @@ (those are my eyes staring in the distance with a glazed look)

  9. (I mean, I totally related to your second paragraph/sentence.)

  10. How about this: right-click somewhere in the Files to Combine field (but outside any file name) and choose Sort files according to name (this should work the same as if you were in Windows Explorer)? This works in my Acrobat, but I am not sure what version you have.

  11. Silver Fox, post away! Sorry to hear about the crankiness, I hope the problem(s) are resolved soon.

    Pika, I was getting ready to make you an offer of marriage for that, but it didn't work - I right clicked every damn pixel of the field, with and without selecting files first, and nothing no menues popped up at all. It's Adobe Acrobat 6.0.0 Professional (HAH!)

  12. Nat - pphhhhtttt!!!!!

    Cath - I don't want longer time limits, I just want to put my ALL my answers down at one time, otherwise I get side-tracked with that darn thing called work.

  13. Cath - sorry about that, I have Adobe Acrobat Professional version 8.0 and in the Combine files function, it lets you order the files in any way you want, like I said above.

    PS: Am very flattered about the marriage offer though. :-)

  14. I freaking HATE adobe acrobat. I hear so much complaining about that program, I wonder if their should be a support group.

  15. SM, looks like this should have been in the quiz thread - sorry I missed it, I was too busy trying (and failing) to keep up with all the answers!

    The problem with people giving all the answers they know at once is that if the first person knows a bunch of answers, other people don't get to play... like when someone on the last one didn't read the rules and answered like 10 questions near the beginning (I saw the comment come in and managed to delete it within a minute or two).

    There really isn't a good way to compensate for people being in different time zones and having to work :(

    Back to Adobe...

    Pika, thanks for the tip - I'll know what to do now if I get an upgrade!

    MXX, I hear ya!

    I was working from home once not long after I got my MacBook, and needed to make and merge PDFs. I googled to look for a mac-compatible program and I was like "oh, making PDFs is native? Cool." and then "Oh, I can merge them too? Sweet!" and then "I can insert the new PDF ANYWHERE I want within the original one without having to print each page to PDF individually and then re-order them?"

    And then I decided that I had properly gone Mac and will never go back.


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