October 26th, 2012
So, the other day I was tasked by my supervisor to convert several hundreds of important Microsoft Word files into PDFs so we could load them on to iPads for easy reference later on. “Sure; no problem” I thought. “There must be some free and easy tool available for doing this real fast”. How incredibly wrong I was.
In fact, the landscape of batch document to PDF conversion software is a barren and disappointing swarm of poorly programmed and designed conversion programs which charge outrageous prices for version that don’t stamp massive watermarks over your document. It’s very disappointing that these companies are charging so much for such a simple feature, so I figured I’d come by and ruin their free lunch.
Now in fact; this is a very simple thing to get done. After hours of research I finally came across a ray of shining hope in SIL Internationals WordConvert program, which is a command line program that leverages the API’s within Microsoft Word itself to convert documents into anything that MSWord supports. This is quite similar to JODConvertor, which does the same sort of thing with the Open Office API’s. However, both of these programs are one shot deals; so if you want to convert a lot of files you need to write a script leveraging one of these two solutions. Since more people are going to have a copy of MSOffice available, it was a no-brainer to go with WordConvert.
Fortunately for anyone else who finds themselves in my situation; I have made that script. BatchDocToPDF is a free command line program that aims to be as easy to use as possible. All you need to do is make a folder and fill it with the doc or docx files that you want to be converted into PDF. When you open the script, it asks you for the path to that folder. Once you enter it, it will scan the folder for documents and create a list of the documents it is going to convert. You then have a couple of options as to where you want to store the output and the conversions will take place. It’s as simple as that, and if it isn’t, give me a mail and I will do my best to figure out why.
You can either
Download the script (Pre-requisites for running: WordConvert.1.1.exe, Python2.7 and MSOffice)