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Section: User Commands (1)
Updated: 4 November 2014
Index Return to Main Contents


gropdf - PDF driver for groff  


[ -delvs ] [ -F dir ] #.OP -I dir [ -p papersize ] #.OP -w n [ -y foundry ] [ -u [cmapfile] ] [files ...]

It is possible to have whitespace between a command line option and its parameter.  


gropdf translates the output of GNU troff to PDF. Normally gropdf should be invoked by using the groff command with a -Tpdf option. If no files are given, gropdf reads the standard input. A filename of - also causes gropdf to read the standard input. PDF output is written to the standard output. When gropdf is run by groff options can be passed to gropdf using groff[aq]s -P option.

See section FONT INSTALLATION below for a guide how to install fonts for gropdf.  


Include debug information as comments within the PDF. Also produces an uncompressed PDF.
Force all fonts to be embedded in the PDF.
Prepend directory dir/devname to the search path for font, and device description files; name is the name of the device, usually pdf.
Print the document in landscape format.
Set physical dimension of output medium. This overrides the papersize, paperlength, and paperwidth commands in the DESC file; it accepts the same arguments as the papersize command. See groff_font (5) for details.
Print the version number.
Set the foundry to use for selecting fonts of the same name.
Forces gropdf to embed ALL fonts (even the 14 base PDF fonts).
Append a comment line to end of PDF showing statistics, i.e. number of pages in document. Ghostscript[aq]s ps2pdf complains about this line if it is included, but works anyway.
-ucmapfilename Gropdf normally includes a ToUnicode CMap with any font created using text.enc as the encoding file, this makes it easier to search for words which contain ligatures. You can include your own CMap by specifying a cmapfilename or have no CMap at all by omitting the argument.


The input to gropdf must be in the format output by troff(1). This is described in groff_out(5).

In addition, the device and font description files for the device used must meet certain requirements: The resolution must be an integer multiple of~72 times the sizescale. The pdf device uses a resolution of 72000 and a sizescale of 1000.

The device description file must contain a valid paper size; see groff_font(5) for more information. gropdf uses the same Type~1 Adobe postscript fonts as the grops device driver. Although the PDF Standard allows the use of other font types (like TrueType) this implementation only accepts the Type~1 postscript font. Fewer Type~1 fonts are supported natively in PDF documents than the standard 35 fonts supported by grops and all postscript printers, but all the fonts are available since any which aren[aq]t supported natively are automatically embedded in the PDF.

gropdf supports the concept of foundries, that is different versions of basically the same font. During install a Foundry file controls where fonts are found and builds groff fonts from the files it discovers on your system.

Each font description file must contain a command

internalname psname

which says that the PostScript name of the font is psname. Lines starting with # and blank lines are ignored. The code for each character given in the font file must correspond to the code in the default encoding for the font. This code can be used with the [rs]N escape sequence in troff to select the character, even if the character does not have a groff name. Every character in the font file must exist in the PostScript font, and the widths given in the font file must match the widths used in the PostScript font.

Note that gropdf is currently only able to display the first 256 glyphs in any font. This restriction will be lifted in a later version.

gropdf can automatically include the downloadable fonts necessary to print the document. Fonts may be in PFA or PFB format.

Any downloadable fonts which should, when required, be included by gropdf must be listed in the file /usr/share/groff/1.22.3/font/devpdf/download; this should consist of lines of the form

foundry font filename

where foundry is the foundry name or blank for the default foundry. font is the PostScript name of the font, and filename is the name of the file containing the font; lines beginning with # and blank lines are ignored; fields must be separated by tabs (spaces are not allowed); filename is searched for using the same mechanism that is used for groff font metric files. The download file itself is also searched for using this mechanism; currently, only the first found file in the font path is used. Foundry names are usually a single character (such as [oq]U[cq] for the URW Foundry) or blank for the default foundry. This default uses the same fonts as ghostscript uses when it embeds fonts in a PDF file.

In the default setup there are styles called R, I, B, and BI mounted at font positions 1 to~4. The fonts are grouped into families A, BM, C, H, HN, N, P, and~T having members in each of these styles:

AvantGarde-Book AI AvantGarde-BookOblique AB AvantGarde-Demi ABI AvantGarde-DemiOblique BMR Bookman-Light BMI Bookman-LightItalic BMB Bookman-Demi BMBI Bookman-DemiItalic CR Courier CI Courier-Oblique CB Courier-Bold CBI Courier-BoldOblique HR Helvetica HI Helvetica-Oblique HB Helvetica-Bold HBI Helvetica-BoldOblique HNR Helvetica-Narrow HNI Helvetica-Narrow-Oblique HNB Helvetica-Narrow-Bold HNBI Helvetica-Narrow-BoldOblique NR NewCenturySchlbk-Roman NI NewCenturySchlbk-Italic NB NewCenturySchlbk-Bold NBI NewCenturySchlbk-BoldItalic PR Palatino-Roman PI Palatino-Italic PB Palatino-Bold PBI Palatino-BoldItalic TR Times-Roman TI Times-Italic TB Times-Bold TBI Times-BoldItalic

There is also the following font which is not a member of a family:


There are also some special fonts called S for the PS Symbol font. The lower case greek characters are automatically slanted (to match the SymbolSlanted font (SS) available to postscript). Zapf Dingbats is available as ZD, the "hand pointing left" glyph ([rs][lh]) is available since it has been defined using the [rs]X'pdf: xrev' extension which reverses the direction of letters within words.

The default color for [rs]m and [rs]M is black; for colors defined in the [oq]rgb[cq] color space setrgbcolor is used, for [oq]cmy[cq] and [oq]cmyk[cq] setcmykcolor, and for [oq]gray[cq] setgray. Note that setcmykcolor is a PostScript LanguageLevel~2 command and thus not available on some older printers.

gropdf understands some of the X~commands produced using the [rs]X escape sequences supported by grops. Specifically, the following is supported.

[rs]X'ps: invis'
Suppress output.
[rs]X'ps: endinvis'
Stop suppressing output.
[rs]X'ps: exec gsave currentpoint 2 copy translate n rotate neg exch neg exch translate'
where n is the angle of rotation. This is to support the align command in gpic.
[rs]X'ps: exec grestore'
Again used by gpic to restore after rotation.
[rs]X'ps: exec n setlinejoin'
where n can be one of the following values.
0 = Miter join
1 = Round join
2 = Bevel join
[rs]X'ps: exec n setlinecap'
where n can be one of the following values.
0 = Butt cap
1 = Round cap, and
2 = Projecting square cap

[rs]X'ps: ... pdfmark'
All the pdfmark macros installed by using -m pdfmark or -m mspdf (see documentation in [oq]pdfmark.pdf[cq]). A subset of these macros are installed automatically when you use -Tpdf so you should not need to use [oq]-m pdfmark[cq] for using most of the PDF functionality.

All other ps: tags are silently ignored.

One [rs]X special used by the DVI driver is also recognised:

where the paper-size parameter is the same as the papersize command. See groff_font(5) for details. This means that you can alter the page size at will within the PDF file being created by gropdf. If you do want to change the paper size, it must be done before you start creating the page.

In addition, gropdf supports its own suite of pdf: tags. The following tags are supported:

[rs]X'pdf: pdfpic file alignment width height line-length'
Place an image of the specified width containing the PDF drawing from file file of desired width and height (if height is missing or zero then it is scaled proportionally). If alignment is -L the drawing is left aligned. If it is -C or -R a linelength greater than the width of the drawing is required as well. If width is specified as zero then the width is scaled in proportion to the height.
[rs]X'pdf: xrev'
This toggles a flag which reverses the direction of printing letter by letter, i.e., each separate letter is reversed, not the entire word. This is useful for reversing the direction of glyphs in the Dingbats font. To return to normal printing repeat the command again.
[rs]X'pdf: markstart /ANN definition'
The macros which support PDF Bookmarks use this call internally to start the definition of bookmark hotspot (user will have called [oq].pdfhref~L[cq] with the text which will become the [oq]hot spot[cq] region). Normally this is never used except from within the pdfmark macros.
[rs]X'pdf: markend'
The macros which support PDF Bookmarks use this call internally to stop the definition of bookmark hotspot (user will have called [oq].pdfhref~L[cq] with the text which will become the [oq]hot spot[cq] region). Normally this is never used except from within the pdfmark macros.
[rs]X'pdf: marksuspend'
[rs]X'pdf: markrestart' If you are using page traps to produce headings, footings, etc., you need to use these in case a [oq]hot spot[cq] crosses a page boundary, otherwise any text output by the heading or footing macro will be marked as part of the [oq]hot spot[cq]. To stop this happening just place [oq].pdfmarksuspend[cq] and [oq].pdfmarkrestart[cq] at the start and end of the page trap macro, respectively. (These are just convenience macros which emit the [rs]X code. These macros must only be used within page traps.)

Importing graphics

gropdf only supports importing other PDF files as graphics. But that PDF file may contain any of the graphic formats supported by the PDF standard (such as JPEG, PNG, GIF, etc.). So any application which outputs PDF can be used as an embedded file in gropdf. The PDF file you wish to insert must be a single page and the drawing must just fit inside the media size of the PDF file. So, in inkscape(1) or gimp(1) (for example) make sure the canvas size just fits the image.

The PDF parser used in gropdf has not been rigorously tested with all possible applications which produce PDFs. If you find a single page PDF which fails to import properly, it is worth running it through the pdftk(1) program by issuing the command:

pdftk oldfile.pdf output newfile.pdf

You may find that newfile.pdf will now load successfully.  

TrueType and other font formats

gropdf does not support any other fonts except Adobe Type 1 (PFA or PFB).  


This section gives a summary of the above explanations; it can serve as a step-by-step font installation guide for gropdf.
BU] Convert your font to something groff understands. This is either a PostScript Type~1 font in either PFA or PFB, together with an AFM file.
The very first line in a PFA/PFB file contains this:
A PFB file has this also in the first line, but the string is preceded with some binary bytes.
BU] Convert the AFM file to a groff font description file with the afmtodit(1) program. An example call is
afmtodit Foo-Bar-Bold.afm map/textmap FBB
which converts the metric file [oq]Foo-Bar-Bold.afm[cq] to the groff font [oq]FBB[cq]. If you have a font family which comes with normal, bold, italic, and bold italic faces, it is recommended to use the letters R, B, I, and BI, respectively, as postfixes in the groff font names to make groff[aq]s [oq].fam[cq] request work. An example is groff[aq]s built-in Times-Roman font: The font family name is T, and the groff font names are TR, TB, TI, and TBI.
BU] Install both the groff font description files and the fonts in a [oq]devpdf[cq] subdirectory of the font path which groff finds. See the ENVIRONMENT section in the troff(1) man page which lists the actual value of the font path. Note that groff doesn[aq]t use the AFM files (but it is a good idea to store them anyway).
BU] Register all fonts which must be downloaded to the printer in the [oq]devpdf/download[cq] file. Only the first occurrence of this file in the font path is read. This means that you should copy the default [oq]download[cq] file to the first directory in your font path and add your fonts there. To continue the above example we assume that the PS font name for Foo-Bar-Bold.pfa is [oq]XY-Foo-Bar-Bold[cq] (the PS font name is stored in the internalname field in the [oq]FBB[cq] file) and belongs to foundry [oq]F[]cq] thus the following line should be added to [oq]download[cq]:
F XY-Foo-Bar-Bold Foo-Bar-Bold.pfa

Use a tab character to separate the fields, and the [oq]foundry[cq] field should be null for the default foundry.



A list of directories in which to search for the devname directory in addition to the default ones. If, in the [oq]download[cq] file, the font file has been specified with a full path, no directories are searched. See troff(1) and groff_font(5) for more details.


/usr/share/groff/1.22.3/font/devpdf/DESC Device description file.
Font description file for font~F.
Font description file for font~F (using foundry~U rather than the default foundry).
List of downloadable fonts.
A Perl script used during install to locate suitable fonts.
Encoding used for text fonts.
Macros for use with gropdf; automatically loaded by troffrc.


afmtodit(1), groff(1), grops(1), troff(1), grops(1), pfbtops(1), groff_out(5), groff_font(5), groff_char(7), groff_tmac(5)  


Copyright [co] 2011-2014 Free Software Foundation, Inc.

Permission is granted to make and distribute verbatim copies of this manual provided the copyright notice and this permission notice are preserved on all copies.

Permission is granted to copy and distribute modified versions of this manual under the conditions for verbatim copying, provided that the entire resulting derived work is distributed under the terms of a permission notice identical to this one.

Permission is granted to copy and distribute translations of this manual into another language, under the above conditions for modified versions, except that this permission notice may be included in translations approved by the Free Software Foundation instead of in the original English.



Importing graphics
TrueType and other font formats

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