Crippled PDF book

nissarup wrote on Sunday, April 24, 2011:

Hi there,

I just bought the non-printable Generic Cortex-M3 book.
When I received I found out that printing is not the only thing I am not able to do with it.
I can’t use the search feature in the default PDF viewer on Mac OS X, Preview and I can’t copy text.
I have to open the file in Acrobat Pro before I am able to search, and even there I am not able to copy text.

Why is the file crippled so? I can understand the printable/not-printable differentiation of the books. But why take away copying?
Just now I wanted to find out how to suspend a task. I had to open the file in Acrobat Pro to do the search for suspend. I found the first mention of the command and wanted to copy it so I could search for the command in full. But no dice, copying has been disabled.

If I had know this file would be so crippled I probably wouldn’t have bought it. Why make a digital copy available when most of the benefits of the digital media is disabled?

Another thing that would be nice is hyperlinking the table of contents so a click on, say “Chapter 1 Task Management” would take me to that page.

Other than that, have a nice day :slight_smile:
-Nis Sarup.

rtel wrote on Sunday, April 24, 2011:

Sorry you are not happy with your purchase.  I constantly get very good feedback about the book contents, but unfortunately have to admit the delivery method is not ideal for anybody.  I will try and justify, and hope you understand:

I want the FreeRTOS books to be as easy to use as possible, and people to be as happy with their purchase as possible.  It used to be that the books were provided unencrypted, but unfortunately doing this meant I had to spend a *lot* of time *every* week chasing down people who had placed the books in publicly accessible places in complete breach of the licensing and copyright terms (torrents, ftp sites, forums, once even made freely available by a very large search engine provider believe it or not).

Now, the income from the books is one of the few ways that the FreeRTOS project manages to be so active, be under constant development, provide free support, provide professional grade software for people like yourself to use for free, etc. etc.  Having the books openly published means two things - first a lot of time is taken away from development, maintenance and support and instead having the time directed to try and prevent and remove unauthorised publication, and second that an income stream (however small) is removed meaning that more will have to be charged for in future.

This all means that, over time, the encryption and copy protection measures introduced have become more and more stringent.  If you could copy text from the book, you could remove all copy protection.  This is far from ideal, I know, a pain yes, and it annoys me just as much as it seems to have annoyed you.  The real problem is that, from the many, many, many thousands of FreeRTOS users, it only takes one idiot to ruin it for the vast, vast, vast 99.99% majority who are playing fairly and honestly.  Such is life, not just in the software world!

Our aim is always to provide quality software to end users completely free of charge.


nissarup wrote on Monday, April 25, 2011:

I understand your need for copy-protection. But that need is yours, not mine. I need a book I can use easily and transparently.
Sadly the PDF is not that.

I don’t mind the login at the opening of the PDFm, that’s a one time thing as I would have the PDF open all the time if I had been using it.

I don’t want a refund as I am happy supporting you in making FreeRTOS free.

edwards3 wrote on Monday, April 25, 2011:

understand your need for copy-protection. But that need is yours, not mine.

From what Richard says, if you are a freertos user and want to continue to be, then actually the need is yours too. You can buy a paper book too.

nissarup wrote on Monday, April 25, 2011:

I know copy-protection is probably needed, I’m just saying that the amount of copy-protection on this particular book makes it all but unusable to me. Like a paper book where you had to start at page one everytime you open it and you’d only be able to flip one page at a time.

I am glad to have supported FreeRTOS and Richard. But I would be even happier had I gotten a book I could use :slight_smile:

stephencleary wrote on Tuesday, April 26, 2011:

I bought the printable docs, though I have no intention of printing it.

However, I agree with the hyperlinks 100%. They should at least be in the TOC, and using the “Bookmark” feature would be really nice, too, so we can have a TOC on the left side instead of at the beginning of the document.

rtel wrote on Tuesday, April 26, 2011:

Yes, once again, I would agree with you it would be no surprise to hear, but I will also once again describe why this is not the case in the hope that somebody knows of a way around it.  I would be ecstatic if somebody did!

The pdf files are generated by a batch file that needs to call a command line tool for the actual pdf conversion.   I use Windoze by the way, but have Cygwin installed to for a bash shell.  The pdf creation has to convert a .rtf file into a .pdf file.

Adobe Distiller (which I would be happy to buy if it fixed this problem) has the capability to do what you want, but does not have the capability to generate pdf files from the command line.  I have requested this feature from Adobe on a number of occasions, but have not heard back on it (imagine that, I must be numer #999991 on their “todo” list ;o).

There are lots of command line pdf generators, but I am yet to find one that can put in the hyperlinks and the bookmarks.

Maybe there is a tool I have not found, but I have looked pretty hard.  Or, maybe there is a way around this whereby a GUI tool could somehow be started then terminated from the command line?

Moving even further, in a perfect world, the books would be able to be viewed on a Kindle and iPhone, but there there are further problems with conversion and DRM, which, as far as I can see from what I have read on the web, is only skin deep on these devices and authors are complaining bitterly (just like musicians were when MP3 players came out).


davidbrown wrote on Wednesday, April 27, 2011:

What do you use to make the rtf file in the first place?  I don’t have a copy of the pdf file (I’ve only dabbled vaguely with FreeRTOS so far), but I looked at the “table of contents” pdf.  It looks like you are using MS Word for the documentation - you are a brave man, trusting Word with such a large document!

I would recommend you get the latest LibreOffice (it’s better than the “official” OpenOffice at working with MS files) and import your documentation into that.  It shouldn’t need much changing, though sometimes the layout needs tweaking after imports.  You may also need to modify the styles used for the headers.  But the point is, if you use hierarchical header styles, then they will automatically become bookmarks in generated pdf files.  The “table of contents” at the beginning of the document will also be “clickable”, and any other cross-references you make in your document (external links, internal references, indexes, etc.) will also be clickable.

pdf generation from LibreOffice is as simple as clicking the “export pdf” toolbar button.  You can set options for encryption, limitations to printing, etc., if you like (personally, I don’t like such limits - but I fully understand why you want them).

The pdf generation capabilities is one of the main reasons why my company uses OpenOffice/LibreOffice as it’s standard office suite.  I can’t understand why people would spend so much money on MS Office and Adobe’s tools, when there are alternatives that are not only free, but significantly better in many ways.

I hope that idea can make your life a little easier - the less time you have to spend fighting tools, the more you have to spend on FreeRTOS coding!


nissarup wrote on Wednesday, April 27, 2011:

I don’t think that’s a workable solution as Richard would have to manually make a PDF file to each customer.

davidbrown wrote on Wednesday, April 27, 2011:

What do you mean, manually make a PDF file for each customer?  I would have thought that each customer gets the same file, or nearly the same (perhaps there are versions with different permissions) .  Or are they customised or marked in some way, so that it’s clear which customer bought the file?

If Richard needs to make a pdf for each customer, then OpenOffice/LibreOffice can be automated and controlled from scripts.  I think the most popular choice here is using Python to control OpenOffice - it should be reasonably practical to write a script that loads up the main documentation file, adds a footer “Licensed to FooBar - do not distribute”, and generates an encoded pdf file.  There are plenty of examples on the web for open office automation, typically for things like automatic MS docx to pdf conversions.

rtel wrote on Wednesday, April 27, 2011:

There are plenty of examples on the web for open office automation, typically for things like automatic MS docx to pdf conversions.

Thanks for the tip.  I will definitely investigate that option.


tacadia wrote on Friday, April 29, 2011:

As an added point, I don’t see not being able to copy directly from the digital book a problem. There is the source code examples that comes with the book and the book basically has the source code examples in there :slight_smile:

Thanks Richard!

Hope if help nissarup :slight_smile:


anguel78 wrote on Friday, June 10, 2011:

I must also note that I am pretty annoyed that I paid for the printable version and now I get my e-mail address printed in the middle of every page right in the text, code or whatever as watermark…

rtel wrote on Friday, June 10, 2011:

Well it just goes to show you cannot please all of the people of the time.

I spent nearly two weeks of my very valuable time, and several hundred dollars, on research and purchases to find a way of creating the pdfs with hyperlinks and bookmarks, and now distribute them like that (and the process requires more intervention from myself and results in larger files).  I hoped that would be more user friendly, and provide people with a better experience.  I’m sorry if that is still not good enough, but what am I to do?  The reasons for the way things are are clearly stated in this thread.

Just going back a bit - a comment made further up about not being able to copy source code out of the text - why would that be  necessary when all the source code is also provided in plain text C files?


anguel78 wrote on Friday, June 10, 2011:

I just wanted to note, that if I buy a hardcopy book there is no annoying text in the middle of every page. That is what I also expected from the printable version. On the other hand I understand that you want to protect your property. I would also like to know how to find out if there is a new version of the book.
On the other hand I am really surprised how nice the book is written. I have still not read the whole book, but so far I really like the explanations. I hope there is some kind of overview project towards the end of the book that sums up things, because for now I don’t see the whole forrest because of all the single trees in front of me as we say here in Germany :slight_smile:

sven-de wrote on Tuesday, June 14, 2011:

I bought the printable generic bundle and am completely satisfied with it. Richard’s argumentation is reasonable. The quality of FreeRTOS is above-average for open-source and the support is better than anything I ever experienced with OS-projects. Even though many OS-consumers don’t like to hear that, but one should be thankful. On the other hand those complaints about crippled eBooks could be avoided by explicitly naming the restrictiongs before the customers buys.

To help Richard with his PDF issue I can add to possible solutions: There is a java-based tool that allows the pdf-generation with OpenOffice from command line. I used it several years ago to make PDFs from rather complex websites (since OO also reads html) from within PHP. Unfortunately that was with another employer and I can’t access those files, but I think the tool was called OOoPDFConverter.
Another idea would be to switch your writing to LaTEX and use pdflatex, giving you all the command-line power available on this planet. When I opened the eBook the first time it was my first thought “Aha, he surely used LaTEX to embed my mailadress in all those pages. That’s just what LaTEX is made for.”