En Masse Conversion of Documents to PDF

Clients from Hell is a favourite place for web designers and developers to visit for laughter, or a relief from blood-curdling rage through affirmation. But every so often there is a comment from a supposedly frustrated designer or developer that makes one think that the comment is not so stupid.

Consider the request posted on August 14, 2011. "Please do me a small favor and convert all 357 word documents into pdf format." The idea is that this is supposed to be a ridiculous request, one which would take hours and the client really doesn't realise this. Of course, the sense of frustration would be true if (a) you're attempting to this with a common web-based .doc to .pdf tool or (b) using the Microsoft PDF exporter file by file.

But there is another option which turns the supposedly ridiculous task into a trivial one. Using a combination of Linux and LibreOffice a single command can convert all the *.doc files in an active directory e.g.,

/usr/bin/soffice --headless --convert-to-pdf *.doc

LibreOffice, like its predecessor OpenOffice, has a wide range of command-line tools which are certainly worthy of familiarisation.

So let's try that conversation again.

Client: Please do me a small favor and convert all 357 word documents into pdf format."
Me: *tap* *tap*, OK done.
Client: Wow, that was fast!
Me: That's why you pay me big $$$s.


Not the only example of CfH being a little less than perfect. Another example:

A client wanted me to upload some photos to their website and sent over a word document with a few images embedded into it.

I replied asking for individual image files, rather than them all in one word document.

A couple of hours later I receive an email containing several word documents, each containing a single image.

Apart from the solution of using a .docx to .zip as recommended above, another simple method is just save as HTML, which provides an images directory.

OK, not nearly as exciting as the en masse conversion, but nevertheless another example of where Clients from Hell should reconsider what constitutes an "unreasonable" request.