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a2ping - Man Page

convert between PS, EPS and PDF and other page description formats

Examples (TL;DR)


a2ping.pl [--]help
a2ping.pl [--]doc
a2ping.pl [options] <inputfile> [[outformat:] outputfile]


a2ping is a UNIX command line utility written in Perl that converts many raster image and vector graphics formats to EPS or PDF and other page description formats. Accepted input file formats are: PS (PostScript), EPS, PDF, PNG, JPEG, TIFF, PNM, BMP, GIF, LBM, XPM, PCX, TGA. Accepted output formats are: EPS, PCL5, PDF, PDF1, PBM, PGM, PPM, PS, markedEPS, markedPS, PNG, XWD, BMP, TIFF, JPEG, GIF, XPM. a2ping delegates the low-level work to Ghostscript (GS), pdftops and sam2p. a2ping fixes many glitches during the EPS to EPS conversion, so its output is often more compatible and better embeddable than its input.

Without the --below option, it is guarenteed to start at the 0,0 coordinate. --below, --hires and -v are recommended options.

The page size is set exactly corresponding to the BoundingBox. This means that when Ghostscript renders it, the result needs no cropping, and the PDF MediaBox is correct.

If the bounding box is not right, of course, you have problems. If you feed crap in, you get crap. But you can supply the --bboxfrom=compute-gs option to make GS recompute the bounding box.

The name of the input file doesn't matter — a2ping detects the file format based on the first few bytes of the file. The name of the output file matters if outformat is missing from the command line: then the extension of the output file determines the FileFormat (outformat).

External Programs

The internal file format of a2ping.pl is PS/EPS. Everything read is first converted to PS or EPS, then processed by a2ping.pl, then converted to the output format.

To analyse the bounding box and other properties of non-EPS PS files (and EPS files with option --bboxfrom other than =guess), GS is used. Converting PS to EPS involves this analysis.

To write PDF files, GS is used.

To read PDF files, pdftops from the xpdf package is used.

Sampled input formats are PNG, JPEG, TIFF, PNM, BMP, GIF, LBM, XPM, PCX and TGA. To read sampled input formats, sam2p is used. sam2p is a raster image converter written in C++ by the author of a2ping.pl.

Extra output formats are PNG, XWD, BMP, TIFF, JPEG, GIF and XPM. To write extra output formats, sam2p and GS are used.

PNM output formats are PGM, PGM and PPM. To write PNM output formats, GS is used.


General Options

-h,  --help

Show a summary of the usage


Show the man page

-v, --(no)verbose

Show progress and debug messages (default: no)

Options for the Bounding box


Use HiResBoundingBox in the input file, if present (default: yes)


Use ExactBoundingBox in the input file, if present (default: no)


keep only old, [0 0]-based MediaBox in PDF (default: no)


Method for determining the BoundingBox  (default: guess)


Allow page content below and left of the origin (default: no)

Options for graphics and fonts


use compression                   (default: best)


render shades at outlines.  Possible values: (=scale3yes =no =yes)  (default: scale3no)


allow lossy image filters (EPS->PDF) (default: yes)


(default: default) (bp)


min color for 1 in 8->1 bit conv  (default: 128)

Options for debugging and changing internals


Unlink temporary files (default: yes).  Use --notmpunklink if you want to inspect intermediate files.


path to Ghostscript program (default: gs or gswin32c)


path to Ghostscript for BoundingBox calculation (default: gs or gswin32c)


Pass extra arguments to gs


Pass extra arguments to external program (i.e pdftops)

Tips and Tricks



The author of a2ping is Peter Szabo <pts@fazekas.hu>.

a2ping is inspired by and historically based on the epstopdf Perl script modified by Thomas Esser, Sept. 1998, but his modifications have been removed from a2ping, and also a2ping and epstopdf do not share common code anymore.  epstopdf is written by Sebastian Rahtz, for Elsevier Science. epstopdf contained extra tricks from Hans Hagen's texutil.

a2ping contains contributions from several people, see the file HISTORY.txt for details. Thank you all for contributing!


2019-11-28 Peter Szabo