Verbs in UnionStation Explorer

If the data items are like “nouns”, what we need to make them truly alive are “verbs”.

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This is the second half of the introduction of UnionStation Explorer.


Part 3: Object Verb

A “verb”, in other words an “action”, is something a queried item exposes about itself. The Data Inspector asks the item being visualized for a list of verbs it is capable of, along with necessary parameters that a user can set, such as file location. Then the verbs are organized in radial menu similar to the visualizers menu, to be toggled on or off on demand. If you are used to the visualizer menu by now, then using the actions menu is easy: all you have to do is to select one or more items, then play with the first two buttons in the adjusted toolbar:


You run the action by clicking on one of the items, then the properties grid would appear, to show you the parameter (expand it if necessary), which you can set before clicking on the “Run” button. The following is a list of actions you could use on various types of data items or item collections:

  • The document itself
    • Create DocInfo entry if not present
    • Remove redundant objects
    • Remove duplicate objects
    • Attach a file
  • Any PDF object
    • Save as a flavor of XML
    • If a stream, decompress
  • Page or XObject
    • Extract text
  • Page
    • Extract page
    • Flatten annotations into contents
    • Delete the selected page
    • Asciify content
  • Page collection
    • Append a PDF
    • Flatten all pages
    • Extract entire document text
    • Save as color TIFF
  • Inline image collection
    • Convert to shared resources
  • File specification
    • Save attached file, if any
  • Annotation
    • Set flags
  • Annotation collection
    • Export into FDF
    • Export as XFDF
    • Import FDF
  • AcroForm
    • Export form data as XML
    • Fill text fields in form
    • Toggle hierarchical or flat view
  • Object collection
    • Create a new object from data
    • Import objects from XML

You may wander: how do I select the document to discover its verbs? The answer is, in any list view, if you select any item, you are inspecting that item; if you select more than one items, then you are inspecting them as a bunch — however if you don’t select any item, then you are inspecting the current collection, which initially is the document itself. If you toggle open the actions radial menu, you will see the actions available for a document (if not an encrypted document):


Group Verb

That is, multiple items of the same type can together execute a single action, for example, extracting several selected pages into a single output PDF file, rather than running a single-page PDF creation on each of the page individually (as with an object verb).


The following group verbs are provided for a PDF document:

  • Pages
    • Create a PDF from selected pages
  • Annotations
    • Set flags all selected annotations
  • Any PDF objects
    • Create a single XML for all selected objects

Most parameters for the verbs are self-explanatory. However, please note that, for file export, you need to choose a file name and location first, although it is usually automatically created for your convenience. You can set the writing mode to overwrite or append. As to XML output, this product has some custom-defined XML schemas that are not exchangeable with other parties.

As a reminder, the functionalities expire after 30 days evaluation. However, the other most frequently used parts of the program still work like usual.


Part 4. Even More Features


Virtual Folder

Double-click in the “address bar” will reveal the URL-like representation of the currently viewed virtual folder. Remember the toolbar buttons revealed when you click on the “…”? One of them is mentioned above, and the other is “Bookmark” — to bookmark the current place so that you can directly open to it the next time.

Moreover, you can send this whole string to someone and s/he will be able to migrate to the target by entering it in the “Open URL” button in the cover page.

Open URL

And yes, the button is actually used for opening a file on the internet. It’s being able to open a local disk file is an added feature. When you give it a valid URL to a PDF on the web, it first downloads it before opening it. The progress is show in the bar below the buttons. If it takes too long and you want to cancel, just click on the “Cancel” button in the toolbar.

Drag and Drop

Have you expected that you can actually drag an item to the desktop or any opened folder in Windows explorer? You will get various files depending on what you drag: for an embedded font, you get a font file; for an image, you get a PNG file; for a page object, you get a valid single-page PDF file. What’s more, if you drag more than one page objects (don’t have to be consecutive) together, you will get a PDF file containing just those pages.

  • Page — Single or multiple page PDF
  • Font — TrueType, Type-1, or CFF font file, if applicable
  • Image — PNG image file
  • Metadata, XFA items — Xml file, reformatted
  • File attachments — The file itself
  • Arbitrary object — Adobe CSO file



About the Author: Cyphia