08 Jun Converting PDF files for use with Gig Performer ChordPro
The ChordPro/Lyric window in Gig Performer does not yet have built-in support for viewing PDF files. However, since it does support images, a workaround is to convert PDF files into image pages that can be used by our viewer. However, it is time consuming to manage manual conversion of a PDF file into image files as well as creating the ChordPro directives needed to make them usable.
There are several free (and indeed open source) command line utilities that can be used to convert PDF files into collections of image files. We decided to create a wrapper around one of these utilities to automate the creation of the required image files and to automatically create the ChordPro directive to insert into your ChordPro viewer. It is called PDFForChordPro.
We do have to note that PDFForChordPro comes with absolutely no warranties. It probably will not delete all your files nor damage anything on your computer but if you manage to mess something up, we cannot provide any support or accept any responsibility. Use it solely at your own risk.
For legal reasons, we cannot redistribute the underlying utilities ourselves so we are including the instructions you should follow to download them yourselves.
Steps – Part 1 – Download and install the underlying utility
- Visit the Xpdf command line tools page by clicking here here. You should end up at a page that looks like this
- From the second section (Download the Xpdf command line tools), click on the appropriate download link to download the Windows or Mac version depending of course on which platform you are running.
- Open your Download folder and look for the download.
You should see one of the above compressed files depending on whether you downloaded the Mac or the Windows version. The version number here (4.03) was the latest available at the time of this writing.
- Use your zip archiver tool to open the compressed file and uncompress it to a folder. If you don’t have an explicit archiver application, double-clicking on the compressed file will typically decompress it by default.
- Open the folder and you’ll see a variety of files in various sub folders.
- You are looking for a file called pdftopng (Mac) or pdftopng.exe (Windows)
- Drag the executable file into a local folder on your system. It doesn’t really matter where you put it. This is the program that will actually create image files from your PDF.
Steps – Part 2 – Download and install the PDFForChordPro utilities from the Gig Performer Website
- Download PDFForChordPro Mac version or PDFForChordPro Windows as desired.
- Open the compressed zip file and put the application anywhere you like. BY convention, Mac user may prefer to put it in their Applications folder while Windows users may prefer to put it in their C:\Program Files.
- Double-click (or otherwise open) the application. You should see a window that looks like this: Obviously the titlebar will look slightly different if you are running on Windows.
- The first thing you have to do is tell the program the location of the command line program you downloaded earlier. To do this, simply drag that command line program anywhere inside this window. Once you have done this, the application window should look like this (although obviously without the red arrow):
Now you’re ready to start converting your PDF files.
Steps – Part 3 – Creating your image files from your PDF
- Optionally: change the width and height settings. If you find that the default (100) causes your images to be too large, try changing the width and height to 75)
- Drag a PDF into the application window
- Wait a while
- Eventually you’ll see the following message
- Now open the Song Lyrics/Chords.. window
- Click on the Edit tab
- Now just paste the contents of the clipboard directly into this window (Cmd-V on Mac, Ctrl-V on Windows). Your Window will look like this (obviously with different file names)
- Click on the View tab to see your sheet music
Steps – Part 4 – Tweaks
If you look closely at the ChordPro directives that were generated, you’ll notice that before each image directive, there is a songpartname directive, with increasing numbers. The songpartname is new in Gig Performer 4 (another reason to upgrade!) and when you are switching from one song part to another, the lyrics view will scroll automatically so you see the sheet music associated with the particular song part. Unless you want to name your song parts 1,2,3… you will want to change the entries for each songpartname directive in the ChordPro text file to match whatever song part names you have used in your song.
You can of course add or insert other ChordPro directives as needed.
That’s it. While it’s not a perfect solution, it’s a useful helper tool that will expedite your creation of ChordPro files if you are starting from PDFs.
As mentioned earlier, this tool is not officially supported but you are welcome to discuss it on the community forums.