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PROBLEM: Prep4PDF doesn't produce links in PDFs

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Movies and Sounds in PowerPoint vs. PDF

Working with media files in either PowerPoint or Acrobat is enough to make anyone a little crazy. Combining the two only compounds the problem. Every computer system, every version of PowerPoint and each new release of Acrobat changes the rules of the game just a little bit.

For our purposes, making PDFs from PowerPoint, we can somewhat ignore PowerPoint's peculiarities. We don't care whether the movies play in PowerPoint itself so long as they play in the PDFs we make from our PowerPoint files.

By default, Prep4PDF tries to make the most broadly compatible PDFs it can. In order to do that, it creates PDF "Launch File" links from each movie or sound object it finds in the PPT file we're converting. It links to just the filename of the movie or soundfile, leaving off the path.

When we open the resulting PDF in Adobe Acrobat or Reader and click the link to the media file, Acrobat looks for the file in the same folder as the PDF itself and passes it off to Windows to play. This means that Windows Media Player (or whatever other application "owns" the file type on a given system) gets launched to play the media file.

It's not the ideal way of handling media in PDF, but it's fairly reliable. As long as we keep the linked media files in the same folder as the PDF and they're of a type that SOME program on the PC can play, we'll at least be able to experience the media.

Prep4PDF does this because some versions of Acrobat and Reader can't play media files themselves; most notably, Acrobat 5/Reader 5 can only play media files if QuickTime is also installed on the PC. Later versions (and oddly, earlier ones) do a bit better and can often play AVI and other movie files themselves. If you're fairly sure your media files are widely compatible you can change a setting in the PPTools.INI file that causes Prep4PDF to make Movie links instead of Launch File ones. When you click these in the PDF, Acrobat or Reader tries to play the media within the PDF.

To activate this feature, add this line to the PPTools.INI file, directly under the [Prep4PDF] line:


Anything but YES is taken to mean NO (though it's not case-sensitive). If NO, then Prep4PDF creates Launch File links to movies and sounds.

Either way, you can still find situations where media simply won't play, such as:

In short, Prep4PDF can help make sure that the links point to the right place, but unless we put the movie files in that place and ensure that the playback system is capable of playing them, they won't work.

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