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GNU/Linux Desktop Survival Guide
by Graham Williams

Convert MS/Word to PDF

OpenOffice.org has a powerful support for plug-ins (called Macros) that allow a lot of additional functionality to be added to application. One common task is to convert MS/Word documents (.doc) into PDF. The recipe here uses Basic to program an OpenOffice.org macro to convert from DOC to PDF. We then illustrate how to turn this into a command line tool to convert from DOC to PDF. (This example was developed by DannyB.)

First, start up OpenOffice.org, perhaps as oowriter. Then, from the Tools menu, select Macros, Organize Macros, OpenOffice.org Basic. A window will popup. Navigate, in the Macro from area, to My Macros, Standard, Module1. Click on Edit to edit the Main module to include just the following code:

REM  *****  BASIC  *****

Sub ConvertWordToPDF(cFile)
   cURL = ConvertToURL(cFile)
   ' Open the document.
   ' Just blindly assume that the document is of a type that OOo will
   '  correctly recognize and open -- without specifying an import filter.
   oDoc = StarDesktop.loadComponentFromURL(cURL, "_blank", 0, Array(MakePropertyValue("Hidden", True), ))

   Dim comps
   comps = split (cFile, ".")
   If UBound(comps) > 0 Then
       comps(UBound(comps)) = "pdf"
       cfile = join (comps, ".")
       cfile = cFile + ".pdf"

   cURL = ConvertToURL(cFile)
   ' Save the document using a filter.
   oDoc.storeToURL(cURL, Array(MakePropertyValue("FilterName", "writer_pdf_Export"), ))
End Sub

Function MakePropertyValue( Optional cName As String, Optional uValue ) As com.sun.star.beans.PropertyValue
   Dim oPropertyValue As New com.sun.star.beans.PropertyValue
   If Not IsMissing( cName ) Then
      oPropertyValue.Name = cName
   If Not IsMissing( uValue ) Then
      oPropertyValue.Value = uValue
   MakePropertyValue() = oPropertyValue
End Function

Save and exit from OpenOffice.org.

Now create a shell script, perhaps called doc2pdf in /usr/local/bin with:


/usr/bin/oowriter -invisible "macro:///Standard.Module1.ConvertWordToPDF($DOC)"

Then simply run it:

$ doc2pdf my.doc

and you should end up with a my.pdf!

The script is nothing perfect, and there is an issue in that the script will return before OpenOffice.org has finished its work. Thus, to convert a whole directory of files, you may want sonething like:

$ for i in *.doc; do echo $i; doc2pdf "$i"; sleep 5; done

The code to handle the newer xml based MS/Office file formats (or more specifically to handle the 4 character filename extensions like .xlsx, .docx, .pptx) was contributed by Victor Danilchenko. It replaced:

   cFile = Left(cFile, Len(cFile) - 4) + ".pdf"


   Dim comps
   comps = split (cFile, ".")
   If UBound(comps) > 0 Then
       comps(UBound(comps)) = "pdf"
       cfile = join (comps, ".")
       cfile = cFile + ".pdf"

Markus Dietsch offered a solution to the sleeping for 5 seconds above, due to the fact that oowriter detaches itself from the shell. His solution is to start oowriter and obtain the running process' name:

$ oowriter
$ ps ax | grep openoffice
 7378 pts/3    Sl     0:00 /usr/lib/openoffice/program/soffice.bin -writer -splash-pipe=5

Use this process command line with our start arguments:

/usr/lib/openoffice/program/soffice.bin -writer -invisible "macro:///Standard.Module1.ConvertWordToPDF($DOC)"

This process does not detach itself from the shell and lives as long as the converting takes and is then coming back.

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