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Re: PDF feature form.

Firstly, my apologies to Thomas for my earlier posting. I had given up
on Adobe so long ago I completely overlooked the fact they had Linux
versions available. I made the mistake of assuming (which as usual
made an ass out of me!) the reference was to the Windows version. 

I think Jason is on the right track here. There are a number of
problems with trying to get Adobe to provide accessibility features to
their products for linux.

1. I doubt they would consider adding text to speech support for their
Linux versions because there is no good free text-to-speech libraries
available and I doubt they would be prepared to pay IBM's licensing
fee for ViaVoice and its unlikely they would spend the resources to
develop such libraries or even develop drivers for hardware synths. 

2. Probably the most you could hope for is for them to include an
accessibility API in their products similar to what they have done
with their windows version and MSAA. However, this would then beg the
question of what accessibility API? I know the GNOME project has been
working on such a beast and there is Java's version plus I have heard
of others - however, unless there is a clearly identified standard,
its unlikely Adobe will take a punt on something which is likely to
change mid-stream. Of course, even if they could be convinced to do
so, we would still need a screen reader which could take advantage of
such an API.

So, where do we go from here. Well, I think the points Jason outlines
have some great potential. The idea of converting pdf to xml is
probably the way to go. There are already a number of modes for emacs
relating to xml and once you have a pdf document in xml format, it
probably wouldn't be too difficult to utilize some of the existing xml
tools to produce a mode for reading and navigating the document in a
manner which makes it easy to access via emacspeak.


P.S. Its interesting to note that pdf stands for portable document
format (which I believe is just compressed postscript) while it looks
like xml may become the first really portable format! Considering so
many mainstream developers are adopting xml, it would be ironic if
Adobe decided to also adopt it as the underlying document structure
for their software. 

Jason White writes:
> Here is a better solution:
> Organize a programming project to add support for PDF logical
> structure to the pdftotext and pdftohtml utilities. Pdftotext is part
> of the XPDF package, available at http://www.foolabs.com/xpdf/ and
> Pdftohtml is based on it.
> Basically, the task would be to write a program that would take a
> structured PDF document (that is, one which includes a PDF structure
> tree as defined in PDF versions 1.3 and above), and produces suitable
> XML output.
> It would require someone with good programming skills and an ability
> to read the PDF reference manual, which is available in PDF format
> from Adobe's web site and can be converted to text easily using
> existing tools if required.
> Xpdf can already process the PDF format; you would just need to add
> support for the structural tree (and might as well work on PDF
> bookmarks as well). Xpdf is written in C++ by the way, and is free
> software under the GNU General Public License.
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Tim Cross
mailto: tcross@northnet.com.au
phone: +61 2 6772 5973
mobile: 0412 969193

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