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Converting and merging multiple files using the PDF Converter for SharePoint

Posted at: 12:22 PM on 16 May 2011 by Muhimbi

mergeThe Muhimbi PDF Converter for SharePoint has had the ability to convert multiple files starting with the very first version we released a number of years ago. However, each of these files are converted individually, which is great, but sometimes you want to carry out an extra operation such as merging those files into a single PDF file.

This functionality has been on our roadmap for a while, but we wanted to do it properly, so we have consulted a cross section of our customers to get a feel for how to implement merging in the best possible way. I think we have come up with a great solution that is easy to use while still providing plenty of options for power users.

For real power users and developers, merging can also be carried out via a web service call. A future version of the product will also come with native workflow activities to merge files. Until then you can merge PDF files from a workflow as described here.

OK, so let’s have a look at how PDF Merging works using the SharePoint user interface. Please note that the screenshots in this article have been made using SharePoint 2010, but it works equally well in SharePoint 2007.

The first step is to select which files to convert and merge. You can select individual files or an entire folder including sub folders. Don’t worry if you are not interested in merging all files, you can fine tune your selection during the merging process.
 

SP2010-MergeLib

 
Once selected click the ‘Convert to PDF’ button to open our standard PDF Conversion screen. The default option is to convert all files individually, but clicking the ‘Merge Files’ option enables all merging related functionality as per the screenshot below.

You can specify the following options:

  • Select the field to use for bookmarks: If you wish you can automatically generate a PDF bookmark for each file that is merged. This makes navigating through the PDF file a lot easier. You can select any field defined on the document library or ‘– Empty – ‘ to skip the bookmarking process. The default field is ‘Title’, which usually contains the most descriptive data.
  • Enabled / disable documents: For each file you can specify if they should be included in the merged document or not. This can be very useful when selecting an entire folder to convert and merge.
  • Manually change bookmark text: Selecting a field to populate the bookmarks with will automatically generate the text for each file’s bookmark. However, if you wish you can manually change this value to anything you like. Please take into account that any manually entered values will be overwritten if you select a different bookmark field name.
  • Change sequence of documents: By default all documents are ordered by modification date, with the oldest one on top. You can change the sequence using the up and down arrows.
  • Include document bookmarks: Each source document may already have its own bookmarks, e.g. existing PDF Files or MS-Word headings. By default these are all stripped out, but if you wish you can select to merge the bookmarks as well. For each document they will automatically be moved to sit underneath any custom bookmark name specified for the file.
  • Change file name: As we are dealing with multiple files we cannot use the name of the source file to generate the destination file name. For the merged file we default the file name to the name of the folder the files are located in. If the files are in the root folder then we use the name of the Document Library. You can override the default generated name and select a different folder if needed as well.

SP2010-MergeScreen

 
Further operations such as applying watermarks and PDF security can be carried out as a post processing step using simple workflows.

This new functionality is included in the 5.0 release of our software.

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