The links between Acrobat 7 and Canon Law

Screenshot of adding bookmark links in Acrobat 7 Professional
Screenshot of adding bookmark links in Acrobat 7 Professional. And yes, it really is as exciting a job as it sounds.

This evening I are been mostly … adding bookmarks to a PDF document in Acrobat 7 Professional. If not an exciting task it is certainly a user-friendly one.

As part of the development of the Scottish Episcopal Church website (www.scotland.anglican.org) I’ve been asked to add the Code of Canons; that is, the book of the laws of the Church.

The SEC Code of Canons is split into two main sections: the Canons, and the Digest of Resolutions. As it says in the introduction to the Digest:

The legal framework of the Scottish Episcopal Church is set out in the Code of Canons…

Canon 52 … authorises the Synod to pass resolutions inter alia, to provide for the implementation of the Canons, for the regulation of the Synod’s own procedure and for the regulation of all matters of property, finance and general administration throughout the Church.

I’m glad I read that, because I’ve never really understood what the Digest of Resolutions was! Anyway, that’s what they are, and there are two main sections. So when I asked for these to be sent to me in PDF format to be added to the website, imagine my surprise when I opened three emails containing 86 files! Eighty-six! That’s one file per canon, plus files for tables of contents, appendices, indices and the Digest (which was split into seven files).

I’m still compiling these into coherent, usable and user-friendly documents, and that’s what I’ve spent much of the afternoon and evening doing. The first task was to compile the first 75 PDF documents into one, then remove the redundant pages. Next I created bookmarks of the main sections allowing users to leap straight to the section that they want. The final task is to add hyperlinks to the PDF document’s index so that a user can simply click on the page reference in the index to take them there, rather than navigate using the more cumbersome method of scrolling through page after page.

But this task takes time. So far I’ve spent about 20 hours on it. I’ve got only 19 pages of the index left to bookmark. And it’s a mind-numbingly dull job that is made bearable only by the knowledge that I’ll be left with a highly usable, user-friendly document of which I’ll be very proud.

I’d love to be further on with the development of the SEC website but these supporting tasks take a lot of time, and it’s important to get these jobs right first time (the various liturgy services took about 4-5 hours per service, for example).

The more that people use professionally-designed documents and user-guides the more they expect all electronic documents to be optimized and organized well. Which is a good thing. I could just throw the Canons up on the site as they are, but I feel that I’d be doing everyone a disservice.

As my granny used to say to me, “If you’re going to do something do it well!”

A long week

It’s been a long, long week. I’m still battling this wretched virus that has laid me low for the best/worst part of a month. On top of that I’ve had a rather sleepless week trying to get the new Scottish Episcopal Church website up and running for the start of General Synod, which began today in Glasgow.

I managed it, however, and carefully guided through the transition from one server to the other at around 02:00 this morning, updated the CMS options and rewrote the .htaccess file by hand and uploaded it to the server. I went to bed this morning while the sun was rising. (Seemingly Jane had a coughing fit in the night and I asked her if she was ok and could I get her anything. I don’t remember any of that, but it was nice to see that in my exhausted and unconscious state I was still concerned about my wife.)

Sadly, the only feedback I’ve had today about the website was negative. It really upset me, and spoiled much of the rest of the day. Kind of made me wonder why I even bother sometimes!