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HTML based Hyperlinks do not get preserved when my document is exploded to PDF


In the Report  (e.g. Crystal Reports) or a document (MS Word) to be exploded by PDF-eXPLODE,  any text (for example "Click Here") that is configured as an  HTML Hyperlink (highlight text, right click and select  'Hyperlink') will not convert to a web link when this document is converted to PDF.



To understand what works in most generic PDF creators like PDF-eXPLODE, we  need to  review the various types of hyperlinks available as well as the difference in how a PDF is produced by a PDF Printer engine as opposed to the PDF created via an Export in Crystal Reports or a Save As in MS Word or Excel.



Every PDF creation engine in the marketplace (and that includes Adobe PDF engine) create PDFs from the Windows created Print output - the source of this output is a windows postscript driver. The postscript driver translate your report page to a formatted Postscript language page which the PDF engine will then convert to a PDF. The output is sourced from Windows, created by the Window's driver using standard postscript language. The driver is not capable of "seeing" the hidden HTML hyperlink tags and hence the HTML hyperlink is not preserved.



On the other hand, Crystal Reports Export or MS Word/Excel Save As PDFs are not generated using the assistance of the Windows postscript driver - so they are not restricted to the standard language. Word, Excel and Crystal Reports all use a Macro script which converts the report into PDF whilst adding extended postscript code to any HTML hyperlinks in the report/document. This extended postscript  does not form part of the standard postscript language driver and hence Crystal Reports and MS Word or Excel, do not have the limitation (of HTML hyperlinks) that they would have had if they printed the PDF rather than process them using a macro script.

 Here are some of the different forms of hyperlinks and how they are handled by the PDF /postscript engines (via the Windows postscript driver)

1. Insert Hyperlink 

When you create a PDF from the Crystal Reports export menu selection or a PDF in MS Word from the 'SAVE AS PDF' menu, both these softwares run a macro that inserts a (non-printable) additional postscript “pdfmarks” (known as extended postscript)  directly into  output created by the Windows PDF driver. This pdfmark (also created by Adobe Distiller) helps to retain the hyperlink. Without it, the hyperlink would not exist.

Currently there is no PDF creation engine in the marketplace that is capable on its own, of creating a hyperlink for HTML styled hyperlinks (of the nature that Crystal Reports and MS Word are inserting). Even Adobe in its basic PDF creation functionality, cannot create it – Adobe installed on the toolbar within MS Word executes a macro to insert the pdfmarks.  


2.  A complete URL (http://www.pdf-explode.com )

Most PDF creation engines including PDF-eXPLODE are capable of retaining this link but it may be necessary to make the font Arial in some cases.


3.  HTML <a href=”URL/ADDRESS”>Click here</a>

PDF creation engines are incapable of converting the HTML link to a PDF preserved hyperlink.

4.  Short form URL: pdf-explode.com instead of http://www.pdf-explode.com

PDF creation engines are incapable of recognizing an incomplete URL unlike current version web browsers which are capable of displaying the web link despite the fact it is a short form URL.



If PDF-eXPLODE was able to insert an extended postscript “pdfmark “into the Windows created postscript output before creating the PDF, then like Crystal Reports,  it would retain the hyperlink too.  Unfortunately PDF-eXPLODE, like most other PDF creators, is  unable to do so.   If you want to include working web/email links in your exploded PDF documents, then do not create output like this:

<a href=”http://www.3000ad.com.au">Click Here</a> or  Click Here or PDF-eXPLODE.com

Just show it as Click herehttp://www.3000ad.com.au with Arial font and PDF-eXPLODE will automatically convert that text to hyperlink.


TIP:  You can export a complete report to PDF using Crystal Reports. This PDF will contain HTML hypinks. Verify it out now.  Make sure this exported PDF is saved to a folder and not the desktop. Now open PDF-eXPLODE printer queue window and then drag and drop the Crystal Report (exported) PDF onto the white space of the PDF-eXPLODE window. PDF-eXPLODE will explode and email (as configured) and all of the HTML hyperlinks will be retained in the PDF.



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