Skip to main content

Font Encoding and Searchable PDFs

I ran into a weird issue today I thought I'd share in case anyone else runs
into this.

In one of my applications I'm populating PDF forms via CFPDFFORM in
ColdFusion. It works great but the PDFs generated aren't searchable, by
which I mean if you're in Acrobat Reader (or any PDF reader application
from what I tested), you can search the PDF but any data that was
programmatically inserted into the PDF form fields isn't searched. So for
example I can be looking at the name "Smith" in the PDF, but if I do a
search for "Smith" it will yield 0 results.

It turns out that the reason for this is due to the encoding of the font
being used on the form fields. I chose Arial for the font (in Acrobat Pro
on the Mac if I remember correctly) when I was creating the empty form but
didn't realize that the version of Arial I chose used Identity-H encoding.
Identity-H is a double-byte encoding so I find it a bit odd that it's not
searchable, but the solution (at least that I've found so far) is to use a
font with ANSI encoding instead.

Since I've been generating PDFs with this app for 2+ years now (funny no
one noticed until now!), I guess I'll be regenerating a lot of PDFs if I
want them to be searchable. Luckily there's a function in the app for just
that purpose, but my server's going to hate me for having to do all that
work over again.

Hope that saves someone else's head and nearest wall from unnecessary
abuse.

Comments

Matthew Woodward said…
Turns out this did NOT fix the issue when the PDF for is populated by ColdFusion. We'll see what Adobe Support has to say because I'm at a loss. If I type into the PDF form manually the text is searchable, but if it's put there by CF it isn't.

Popular posts from this blog

Running a Django Application on Windows Server 2012 with IIS

This is a first for me since under normal circumstances we run all our Django applications on Linux with Nginx, but we're in the process of developing an application for another department and due to the requirements around this project, we'll be handing the code off to them to deploy. They don't have any experience with Linux or web servers other than IIS, so I recently took up the challenge of figuring out how to run Django applications on Windows Server 2012 with IIS.

Based on the dated or complete lack of information around this I'm assuming it's not something that's very common in the wild, so I thought I'd share what I came up with in case others need to do this.


This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

Assumptions and CaveatsThe operating system is Windows Server 2012 R2, 64-bit. If another variant of the operating system is being used, these instructions may not work properly.All of the soft…

Installing and Configuring NextPVR as a Replacement for Windows Media Center

If you follow me on Google+ you'll know I had a recent rant about Windows Media Center, which after running fine for about a year suddenly decided as of January 29 it was done downloading the program guide and by extension was therefore done recording any TV shows.

I'll spare you more ranting and simply say that none of the suggestions I got (which I appreciate!) worked, and rather than spending more time figuring out why, I decided to try something different.

NextPVR is an awesome free (as in beer, not as in freedom unfortunately ...) PVR application for Windows that with a little bit of tweaking handily replaced Windows Media Center. It can even download guide data, which is apparently something WMC no longer feels like doing.

Background I wound up going down this road in a rather circuitous way. My initial goal for the weekend project was to get Raspbmc running on one of my Raspberry Pis. The latest version of XBMC has PVR functionality so I was anxious to try that out as a …

Fixing DPI Scaling Issues in Skype for Business on Windows 10

My setup for my day job these days is a Surface Pro 4 and either an LG 34UC87M-B or a Dell P2715Q monitor, depending on where I'm working. This is a fantastic setup, but some applications have trouble dealing with the high pixel density and don't scale appropriately.
One case in point is Skype for Business. For some reason it scales correctly as I move between the Surface screen and the external monitor when I use the Dell, but on the LG monitor Skype is either massive on the external monitor, or tiny on the Surface screen.
After a big of digging around I came across a solution that worked for me, which is to change a setting in Skype's manifest file (who knew there was one?). On my machine the file is here: C:\Program Files\Microsoft Office\Office16\LYNC.EXE.MANIFEST
And the setting in question is this:
<dpiAware>True/PM</dpiAware>
Which I changed to this: <dpiAware>False/PM</dpiAware>
Note that you'll probably have to edit the file as administr…