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Author Topic: Adobe Acrobat - is there an alternative?  (Read 2251 times)

techidave

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Adobe Acrobat - is there an alternative?
« on: April 09, 2017, 06:19 AM »
My school is wanting to purchase Adobe Acrobat Pro.  They will only use it for creating, editing, and signing pdfs.  Is Acrobat the best piece of software for our needs?

Will probably only have 1 user at a time but would need more than 1 license and less than 5.  Windows version mostly with maybe 1 Mac,

I have looked at Foxit, Nitro, and some others.  With our Adobe educational pricing, their website pricing is not any cheaper than Adobe is.


wraith808

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Shades

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Re: Adobe Acrobat - is there an alternative?
« Reply #2 on: April 09, 2017, 10:22 AM »
While wraith808's suggestion for an alternative is a good one, how is the actual use case at your school?

Do you receive external PDF documents that require editing? Or does the school only create/edit their own documents?

In the latter case you can do without Adobe Acrobat (or alternatives) altogether. That is, if you want to spend time on getting PDF printer functionality to work as your school expects it to, they can create/edit the documentation they want in the native file formats from the software they use for creating that documentation and later on export it to the PDF printer to generate the PDF.

For documents with a rather simple layout and a few images you can do without Acrobat. Whether the efforts you spend on getting this to work weighs up against costs for getting licensed copies of Acrobat or alternatives is up to you and/or the school's accountant(s).

Personally, where possible I like to reduce anything I generate to text-based file formats during the creation/editing process and only after it's done, export it to the file format other users expect my data in.

While this could be seen as counter-intuitive, it doesn't have to be. The main reason behind this is that the software I create needs to support a lot of MS-Office versions, as in use functionality from these software packages without any form of user-interaction in automatic processes. With all the differences between versions and sometimes even between service-packs, it becomes a major headache getting the same results/output in all these different Office packages. So much so that I don't do it at all anymore. Whatever I need I (re-)create as script snippets in our software and make the process do the export to file format as  final step.

Consultants happy, because they see/get what they need in their Excel documents and admins are happy because without the (excessive) MS-Office overhead their servers can run much(!) more automatic processes on the same hardware with better performance. Even the scripters are happier, as initially it is more work, but in the end they do not have to take so many exceptions/workarounds into account (at least, I see less complaints in the version control comments).

Then again, what works for me...well, works for me, not necessarily for you.

dr_andus

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Re: Adobe Acrobat - is there an alternative?
« Reply #3 on: April 09, 2017, 04:38 PM »
https://www.tracker-...t/pdf-xchange-editor

+1.

I've used PDF XChange Editor for many years, but recently I got to also install Acrobat Pro, so I made it my default app, to try it out. I found I much prefer PDF XChange Editor.

The only advantage I could find of Acrobat is that it seems to open files faster (or at least the app launches faster when you open the first file). But otherwise XChange is so much more user-friendly and customisable.

Arizona Hot

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Re: Adobe Acrobat - is there an alternative?
« Reply #4 on: April 09, 2017, 09:28 PM »
I have never used PDF XChange Editor, I use LibreOffice Writer for my text formatting needs. It allows me to flow text around the pictures and output desktop publishing quality pdfs. If you use the Hybrid PDF option you can re-edit the pdf file as many times as you like(as far as I know). The resulting files can still be opened and read by Acrobat Reader normally(and presumably by other pdf readers).

Hybrid PDF.jpgAdobe Acrobat - is there an alternative?


cyberdiva

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Re: Adobe Acrobat - is there an alternative?
« Reply #5 on: April 10, 2017, 08:56 AM »
I've used PDF XChange Editor for many years, but recently I got to also install Acrobat Pro, so I made it my default app, to try it out. I found I much prefer PDF XChange Editor.
Did you buy a pro version of PDF XChange Editor? I have a free version, and as far as I can tell, it can't do things like combine several pdf pages into one pdf file.  Can yours do that?  A friend keeps suggesting that I simply break down and buy Adobe Acrobat Pro. He claims it will do everything. I'm not a big Adobe fan, so I'd prefer to use alternatives, as long as I can do what I want. But for combining files, I wound up sending all the separate pdfs to him and he combined them with Adobe.  :(

wraith808

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Re: Adobe Acrobat - is there an alternative?
« Reply #6 on: April 10, 2017, 10:06 AM »
I've used PDF XChange Editor for many years, but recently I got to also install Acrobat Pro, so I made it my default app, to try it out. I found I much prefer PDF XChange Editor.
Did you buy a pro version of PDF XChange Editor? I have a free version, and as far as I can tell, it can't do things like combine several pdf pages into one pdf file.  Can yours do that?  A friend keeps suggesting that I simply break down and buy Adobe Acrobat Pro. He claims it will do everything. I'm not a big Adobe fan, so I'd prefer to use alternatives, as long as I can do what I want. But for combining files, I wound up sending all the separate pdfs to him and he combined them with Adobe.  :(


The Pro version can.  List of features is here, including this bit.

Quote
Manipulate Documents

Create, print and email documents. Use Sharepoint, Dropbox, Google Drive and/or MS Office 365 integration to open documents directly from 'the cloud' and then use PDF-XChange Editor functionality to convert them to/from PDF. Combine PDFs into a new document. View and edit MS Word documents. Create PDF documents directly from scanned material.

Myself, I have fineprint and pdffactory, and use those two to edit most of the time, even having the pro version of PDF XChange Editor.  It's just an easier workflow for me.

tomos

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Re: Adobe Acrobat - is there an alternative?
« Reply #7 on: April 10, 2017, 02:53 PM »
Adobe Acrobat is outrageously expensive (although moot point for the OP due to educational pricing):
if you really need it fine -- but I wouldnt buy it unless I did really need it.
Saying that, I dont use PDF editors, so cant recommend any (it's good to read the different suggestions here).

Softmaker recently introduced a new editor that would be worth checking out I think:
http://www.softmaker.com/en/flexipdf
(They also do educational pricing AFAIK)


dr_andus

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Re: Adobe Acrobat - is there an alternative?
« Reply #8 on: April 10, 2017, 06:14 PM »
Did you buy a pro version of PDF XChange Editor? I have a free version, and as far as I can tell, it can't do things like combine several pdf pages into one pdf file.  Can yours do that?  A friend keeps suggesting that I simply break down and buy Adobe Acrobat Pro. He claims it will do everything. I'm not a big Adobe fan, so I'd prefer to use alternatives, as long as I can do what I want. But for combining files, I wound up sending all the separate pdfs to him and he combined them with Adobe.  :(

Yes, I have the Pro version (where you can indeed combine PDFs and do a lot more). Actually I started with the free version of XChange Viewer and used it for years, until I realised that I loved it so much I should really buy the Pro version. And then along the line there was a promotion and I upgraded to XChange Editor Pro.

Well, I haven't done a line-by-line comparison, but my sense is that XChange Editor Pro can do more than Adobe Acrobat Pro, or at least in a more intuitive way and better. I'm still testing Adobe Pro, but I have already run into a few situations where I got frustrated and switched back to XChange.

Also, I find the XChange developers quite responsive. I sent them several ideas when Editor was being developed and they were very good at engaging with me, and some of them got implemented.

One thing I like about XChange is how highly customisable it is. I often need to convert PDFs into images, and you can automate a lot of the repetitive tasks, such as saving the folder location, generating custom file names according to templates (such as adding date and time etc.) and so on.

techidave

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Re: Adobe Acrobat - is there an alternative?
« Reply #9 on: April 11, 2017, 06:08 AM »
https://www.tracker-...t/pdf-xchange-editor

+1.

I've used PDF XChange Editor for many years, but recently I got to also install Acrobat Pro, so I made it my default app, to try it out. I found I much prefer PDF XChange Editor.

The only advantage I could find of Acrobat is that it seems to open files faster (or at least the app launches faster when you open the first file). But otherwise XChange is so much more user-friendly and customisable.

You mean there is an Adobe product that opens fast?  InDesign and Photoshop CS6 sure don't.

techidave

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Re: Adobe Acrobat - is there an alternative?
« Reply #10 on: April 11, 2017, 06:16 AM »
We do receive pdfs that need editing.  Also there are some that are needing a signature and then returned via email to sender.

As I understand it, my administrator wants something that can create and edit our own documents.  She also would like to be able to edit other pdfs as well as place a signature on them.  As far as placing images on them, I do not know if she would do that or not. 

She does post some pdfs on the web.

One of my administrators asked me to look into getting her a software that can do this.  Of course, Acrobat was the first thing that came to my mind.

techidave

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Re: Adobe Acrobat - is there an alternative?
« Reply #11 on: April 11, 2017, 06:19 AM »
I've used PDF XChange Editor for many years, but recently I got to also install Acrobat Pro, so I made it my default app, to try it out. I found I much prefer PDF XChange Editor.
Did you buy a pro version of PDF XChange Editor? I have a free version, and as far as I can tell, it can't do things like combine several pdf pages into one pdf file.  Can yours do that?  A friend keeps suggesting that I simply break down and buy Adobe Acrobat Pro. He claims it will do everything. I'm not a big Adobe fan, so I'd prefer to use alternatives, as long as I can do what I want. But for combining files, I wound up sending all the separate pdfs to him and he combined them with Adobe.  :(


I am not an Adobe fan either.  Too much bloat and its hard for me to use when there are other solutions that are easier and cost much less, if not free.

techidave

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Re: Adobe Acrobat - is there an alternative?
« Reply #12 on: April 11, 2017, 06:23 AM »
I need to try out PDFexchange to see which version we would need.   Adobe Acrobat Pro cost us $155 US dollars...educational pricing.  Educational pricing for Foxit Pro was only a few dollars less.

pdfexchange is quite a bit less than both of the other ones. 

Evaluation copy here we come. 

tomos

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Re: Adobe Acrobat - is there an alternative?
« Reply #13 on: April 11, 2017, 06:25 AM »
The only advantage I could find of Acrobat is that it seems to open files faster (or at least the app launches faster when you open the first file). But otherwise XChange is so much more user-friendly and customisable.

You mean there is an Adobe product that opens fast?  InDesign and Photoshop CS6 sure don't.

I find Acrobat Reader the best balance for opening / viewing PDF files:
note I'm usually looking at files with lots of vector graphics and/or images in them.
It is fast, and navigation & zooming is much more keyboard friendly than anything else I've tried, including PDF-Exchange (the last time I tried it at any rate).

Seems to work fine for manuals etc with lots of text too.

[Adobe is one of my least favourite companies, so take that as high praise for the Reader]

wraith808

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Re: Adobe Acrobat - is there an alternative?
« Reply #14 on: April 11, 2017, 06:54 AM »
The only advantage I could find of Acrobat is that it seems to open files faster (or at least the app launches faster when you open the first file). But otherwise XChange is so much more user-friendly and customisable.

You mean there is an Adobe product that opens fast?  InDesign and Photoshop CS6 sure don't.

I find Acrobat Reader the best balance for opening / viewing PDF files:
note I'm usually looking at files with lots of vector graphics and/or images in them.
It is fast, and navigation & zooming is much more keyboard friendly than anything else I've tried, including PDF-Exchange (the last time I tried it at any rate).

Seems to work fine for manuals etc with lots of text too.

[Adobe is one of my least favourite companies, so take that as high praise for the Reader]

Reader can be fast, but it can also be slow.  Depends on the PDF.  I find that PDF XChange opens at the same speed no matter the PDF, which is why I always switch my default to it.

techidave

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Re: Adobe Acrobat - is there an alternative?
« Reply #15 on: April 11, 2017, 06:55 AM »
I think a lot of people use Reader, I do as does our school employees.  however, Reader does not allow us to create documents.  i believe it does allow editing of pdfs if the "Creator" allows it.  Which most do not, at least not the pdfs that I receive. 

techidave

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Re: Adobe Acrobat - is there an alternative?
« Reply #16 on: April 11, 2017, 07:44 AM »
How about a recommendation for Macs?  I Adobe has one, but doesn't appear pdfexchange does.

ConstanceJill

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Re: Adobe Acrobat - is there an alternative?
« Reply #17 on: April 11, 2017, 07:53 AM »
Hi there ^^

[…] combine several pdf pages into one pdf file.[…]
For this type of stuff, I'd recommend using PDF Split and Merge Basic (aka "PDFsam"). Preferably version 2.x, since version 3 dropped the "visual composer" option, which was a pretty useful feature.
« Last Edit: April 12, 2017, 03:35 AM by ConstanceJill, Reason: Found why I prefered version 2 instead 3, might as well mention it :p »

dr_andus

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Re: Adobe Acrobat - is there an alternative?
« Reply #18 on: April 11, 2017, 09:31 AM »
Reader can be fast, but it can also be slow.  Depends on the PDF.  I find that PDF XChange opens at the same speed no matter the PDF, which is why I always switch my default to it.

I was commenting more on launching the app. If I am opening a PDF file without the app running yet, then Acrobat Pro launches more quickly than PDF-XChange. Once they are both running, this difference disappears when opening additional files.

wraith808

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Re: Adobe Acrobat - is there an alternative?
« Reply #19 on: April 11, 2017, 10:42 AM »
Reader can be fast, but it can also be slow.  Depends on the PDF.  I find that PDF XChange opens at the same speed no matter the PDF, which is why I always switch my default to it.

I was commenting more on launching the app. If I am opening a PDF file without the app running yet, then Acrobat Pro launches more quickly than PDF-XChange. Once they are both running, this difference disappears when opening additional files.


Ah... I always open with a file, so I hadn't noticed this.

dr_andus

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Re: Adobe Acrobat - is there an alternative?
« Reply #20 on: May 02, 2017, 03:10 AM »
One example of strange behaviour with Adobe Acrobat Pro (on Win7, 64-bit): I just tried to save a single 192kb .jpg image as PDF with Acrobat, and 15 minutes later it is still work-in-progress, saying it is creating it. It also threw up a strange Dopus error that I have never seen before (I was saving it from a Dopus image viewer), saying Dopus might be unstable afterwards (though it carried on as fine). When I tried to print the image with the free CutePDF Writer, it created it in like one second with no problems.

So how is it that the expensive product of the company that created the PDF format can't handle a tiny task like that?

J-Mac

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Re: Adobe Acrobat - is there an alternative?
« Reply #21 on: May 04, 2017, 12:11 AM »
I have used Nuance's PDF Converter Pro for a number of years now instead of Acrobat. It can do just about everything Acrobat can do - at least for all my needs. I believe that Nuance's latest version is actually called Power PDF now. I'm still using their last version which is PDF Converter Pro 8. It costs a lot less than Acrobat too.

Jim

tomos

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Re: Adobe Acrobat - is there an alternative?
« Reply #22 on: October 13, 2017, 04:30 AM »
What did you get in the end techidave?
Do Adobe even 'sell' Acrobat any more -- or is it all subscription?

On closer look I believe FlexiPDF would have sorted your needs (but haven't used it myself).

Shades

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Re: Adobe Acrobat - is there an alternative?
« Reply #23 on: October 13, 2017, 10:12 AM »
With my earlier suggested workflow in mind (make the document you want to distribute as PDF first in your favorite piece of software and, when finished, convert it to PDF), I recently discovered the tool: PanDoc.

This is pretty powerful software and has to be used with the commandline. It is able to convert almost anything, the link shows you a quite impressive graph with all the file formats you could be converting between.

Used it myself to convert a few extensive manuals in .DOCX format to convert them to a mediawiki page and that worked like a charm. Screenshot images inside these documents were not added directly, just links that allow you add them yourself quickly enough. An almost 400 page, mostly text, manual took about half an hour in total. Including adding some images and verification of errors in format/structure.

For "funsies" I also converted that manual to PDF, after adding a more comprehensive Latex engine (MikTex) to PanDoc, which had a very satisfying result too. And it was a bit faster than what I usually do when creating a PDF from a manual written in .DOC/.DOCX format (loading up that manual in LibreOffice and use its default PDF converter to create the PDF).

With those experiences, I will gladly recommend this software to anyone who needs any type of document converted to anything.

PanDoc is open source and available for Windows, Linux and Mac. Also available as portable app. The MikText engine is also available as a portable app. Which is how I used them.

Now some do not like to work with the command line, so here is a link to a separate GUI for the PanDoc software.

techidave

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Re: Adobe Acrobat - is there an alternative?
« Reply #24 on: October 15, 2017, 09:27 AM »
Tomos, we ended up not purchasing anything.  I sent my administrator a link to try Foxit Pro out.  She was the one that would be using this type of software the most.  So I let her choose.  I didn't hear anything back so I don't think she did anything with it.