David Clover


    Concatenating multiple files into a PDF

    David Clover  18 October 2013 09:37:40
    Our students will soon have to submit all their Electronic Tutor Marked Assignments (ETMAs) in a single PDF file for marking, but there is a problem for those, for example in the Maths and Statistics areas and others, whose ETMAs have to consist of a heterogenous variety of original file types - .The file formats that we can convert to pdf and then merge include: doc, docx, pdf, jpg", "jp2", "jpf", "gif", "png", "tiff", "tif" objects in various formats. The new requirement is for these to be presented for assessment as a single concatenated PDF file.

    My colleague Henryk is putting the finishing touches to an Apache Tika processing tool to detect content types which then feeds into a utility from Qoppa software driven by Java via our Domino server. Students will be able to submit a .ZIP file containing all the disparate objects which are uploaded and after Tika's filetype detection, processed by Qoppa into a single .PDF file which students can then submit in the usual way.

    We have spent some time attempting to develop an IBM Domino XPages tool for this, but because of incompatibilities in processing .docx files between the Qoppa back-end environment that does the processing and the XPages environment we have had to re-think and have returned to 'conventional' web input techniques using LotusScript and Formulas. Having now solved some Java runtime permission issues on the server, this has now been shown to work extremely well, and so it just remains to build and tune the web front end in order to deliver the system to our students.

    The workflow concept is that a student will authenticate with the web page as usual, and then upload the ZIP file. After a short wait, during which the protocol conversions are done on the server in the background, he or she will be presented with a web page with the uploaded .ZIP and the newly concatenated .PDF file. This can then be downloaded and passed across to the University's ETMA system in the usual and approved way.

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