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Free PDF tools review?

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How about a review of the best of the free PDF tools out there.  There are a ton of
tools that will let you print to PDF, but very few that will do the more important stuff--splitting and merging, etc.  Anyone else like this idea?
-yacht_boy (August 21, 2005, 09:40 PM)
--- End quote ---

I mentioned this somewhere else, but here's a bit more blurb;

pdftk - PDF toolkit

=== begin quote ===
If PDF is electronic paper, then pdftk is an electronic staple-remover,
 hole-punch, binder, secret-decoder-ring, and X-Ray-glasses. Pdftk is a
 command-line tool for doing everyday things with PDF documents. Keep one in the
 top drawer of your desktop and use it to:

Merge PDF Documents
Split PDF Pages into a New Document
Decrypt Input as Necessary (Password Required)
Encrypt Output as Desired
Fill PDF Forms with FDF Data and/or Flatten Forms
Apply a Background Watermark
Report on PDF Metrics such as Metadata, Bookmarks, and Page Labels
Update PDF Metadata
Attach Files to PDF Pages or the PDF Document
Unpack PDF Attachments
Burst a PDF Document into Single Pages
Uncompress and Re-Compress Page Streams
Repair Corrupted PDF (Where Possible)
Pdftk allows you to manipulate PDF easily and freely. It does not require
 Acrobat, and it runs on Windows, Linux, Mac OS X, FreeBSD and Solaris.

Pdftk is free software (GPL).
=== end quote ===

The password feature didn't work for me the only time I tried it, but the splitting and merging features work a treat.  Although this is a command-line application, the Web site has a link to a WinGUI shell for most of the major features.

I'd be very interested in this review. However, I'd like to see the "cheaper" shareware alternatives to Adobe Acrobat  - products by Fineprint, Nitro, Scansoft, and Jaws for example - reviewed as well. I'm curious about how these compare to each other and most importantly which is the best alternative to Acrobat.

Carol Haynes:
I know you'll want to wait for the review but I have used Acrobat 5 (full version) and Jaws PDF Creator and Editor. I was lucky enough to get a free copy of Jaws PDF Creator as I had a registered version of their earlier software (which I got free from a magazine disk).

Jaws software is chearp, solid and reliable. The only places it falls down in comparison to Acrobat are speed (the Editor is quite S..L..O..W at loading and saving files - in fact sometimes with large files you may as well go and get a coffee) and updating. The updates for Acrobat are pretty regular and the file format grows and grows with time. So far I haven't felt the need to splurdge out on the upgrade to version 7 but I do now have some files that aren't fully functional in version 5. I haven't seen updates at Jaws which address all the growing options in the PDF format.

If you simply want to create PDF files and edit them, Jaws is well worth a look. If you want to edit files from other sources then you may need to look elsewhere. (Actually just been to their website and note that new versions are due out soon. For the new version of PDF Creator see the press release at which is the enterprise version but new consumer versions of Creator and Editor are due soon and will be free upgrades if you purchase current versions now. See for details of upgrading.)

Personally I haven't had very happy experiences with ScanSoft software. I haven't tried their PFD software (and have no wish to) but other software I have used (and purchased ... TextBridge, OmiPage and PaperPort) always promised much but the results are never as good as  expected. Their upgrade prices for new versions are always high (often higher than the cost of the new software if you keep your eyes open for special offers), and free updates (even for bug fixes) are few and far between ... not that there aren't bugs that need fixing.

Not sure if this qualifies.

Iceni Technology, makers of Infix PDF Editor.  Windows 95/98/9x users should check the demo for compatibility.  9 Mb download...

This is a $99 WYSIWIG PDF editor which, in unpaid-for form, puts a watermark in every PDF it saves.  But if you don't want to pay that much, they will sell you a cheap (IIRC, $6 or so) one-time key that will remove the watermark on one document.  Doesn't have password features ATM but that's scheduled for next year.

anyone try fineprint's pdf tool? their fineprint tool is one of those genius apps but i havent tried the pdf factory one.


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