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Sending Trees by E-mail

The best way to send PediTree output in electronic form whilst preserving the layout is to make a Portable Document Format (PDF) file from it and send that. How? See below.

A PDF file can be displayed by using a suitable program. The standard program for this is Adobe Acrobat Reader, often pre-installed on a new computer. Otherwise, it is readily available at no cost with some purchased applications, or by download from http://www.adobe.com/. There are alternatives, one of which is Foxit Reader, to be described below.

Producing PDF Files

There are several different ways to produce a PDF file from PediTree output without spending much money. They all involve installing a Windows Printer-driver that either produces a PDF file as output or an intermediate file that can be converted to the PDF form.

The writer uses PDFCreator. This appears as a Windows printer called (guess what) PDFCreator. If you select this printer to 'print' a Tree or other chart in the usual way, then on choosing Save you are prompted for a filename for the PDF output. The result is then automatically displayed. Here is a small two-page example.

Other software suggested by contributors to the PUG-L mailing-list is:

Other Uses of Print to PDF

As well as providing files for easy sharing, printing to PDF provides a way to check the layout of a proposed Table or Tree without actually spending ink and paper. You can simply view the result on-screen and then make changes if needed.

It is also possible to produce PDF files for large-format printing. How would you like a big Tree on A0 paper (841 x 1189mm)? Set that paper-size in your PDF printer, produce the file and take it to a local shop that can print it for you. That is, after you have checked it on-screen first, of course.

Installing PDF Creator

This can be downloaded from http://www.pdfforge.org/. There are two versions, one free, the other (PDFCreator Plus) costs a small amount (£3.29 in December 2014). The free version attempts to install a program that serves adverts during the installation process; this advert-server is often intercepted by anti-virus software as a Potentially Unwanted Program (PUP). I recommend that you pay for the ad-free Plus version. You will be asked for contact details, including name, address and telephone number. The web-sites privacy statement says that these will not be passed on to others without your explicit permission.

After payment, an email will provide a link to download the installer (c. 26Mb) and a password that is needed during installation. After download, run the installer, pasting in your password as requested. You will be asked to choose some installation options: I suggest you deselect PDF Architect, as this takes a long time to download and install. You can always change your mind about this at a later date.

Foxit Reader

This is a free alternative to Adobe Reader, which is somewhat faster to load and display your files. I use this myself. It can be downloaded from http://www.foxitsoftware.com/.

Since I first found and installed this reader, both it and the installation process have been developed, not always helpfully in my view. Some hints on avoiding the disadvantages follow.

Installation

When running the downloaded installer, look carefully for options to install other programs or 'helpful' features and deselect them, especially special browser add-ons.

There's no option to omit one feature from the installation, called Foxit Cloud. This provides the ability to store your PDFs and settings 'in the cloud' — namely on a server somewhere. You don't have to sign up to it, but it's something I don't want at all (and it uses some extra memory). In the current version, it is built-in and cannot be removed. (I have altered the settings of Windows Firewall to block Foxit Reader's access to the Internet.)

Configuration

On installation, Foxit has a modern ribbon-style toolbar. I don't care for this style, but the current version provides no alternative. However, you can hide it (press Ctrl+F11).

One other irritation is that updating Foxit destroys your settings. There's no way around this, I fear.