Document Fidelity Management – Part 2

In Part One we discussed why documents using the PDF standard maintain a consistent means of sharing and displaying electronic document data. In this discussion we’ll outline the features that differentiate Adobe Acrobat Reader from Adobe Acrobat Professional. Finally, we’ll conclude with some free and open source tools for doing some of the functions found with Adobe Acrobat Professional.

Tools of the Trade

Adobe created the PDF format to share documents that maintained the look and intended layout regardless of the computer or version of the software used by the recipient. This format became an open standard allowing any company to create tools that used the PDF standard of sharing documents. The two parts of the Adobe Acrobat PDF are Adobe Professional and Adobe Reader.

Adobe Professional comes in basic and premium versions (Adobe calls these Professional Standard, Pro and Pro Extended). The difference between the versions are certain features for creating and annotating PDF files. The Adobe Reader simply displays PDF documents and the activates features created by the author of the PDF file. In the Adobe family to create a PDF you must have the Pro, Standard or Extended versions. These are software titles where a license must be purchased for each installation. Prices currently start at $299.

The Adobe Reader program is a free software title that allows anyone to read, view and print PDF files.

For a comprehensive list of the differences between Adobe Reader, Adobe Acrobat Standard and Pro Extended please click here.

Creating a PDF file is done by using the connection Acrobat Pro (any paid version) makes into programs that print. For example if I have a spreadsheet that I want to share as a PDF document I will make my spreadsheet in Excel and print or save the file as a PDF document from Excel. The Acrobat Pro version(s) do not edit the basic PDF file, it is simply used to compile the pdf file. Anyone with the Adobe Reader will be able to see the PDF file I created in Excel on their computer if they have Excel installed or not. The functionality of the spreadsheet may be gone, but the data it displays is consistent regardless of the computer they use to view it.

The value that comes from Acrobat Pro versions are the ability to add functionality into the PDF document. The PDF document may be created into a form that can be filled online and printed by anyone using Adobe Reader (note: not saved). Document manipulation such as cropping margins, reordering pages or extracting some pages may be done using the Acrobat Pro versions.

Cutting a PDF File (Split & Merge)
So far we have discussed how Acrobat Pro versions work. As the PDF standard is now opened many organizations are developing tools that apply the standard in software that is distributed from companies other than Adobe. The following piece of software is free and will cut PDF files without having to buy  Acrobat Pro. Adolix Split and Merge PDF 1.5 is a free download (click here) allowing users to manipulate PDF documents without purchasing the full suite of Adobe Acrobat Pro. There are some limitations to this software but for the majority of users these functions make sense and avoid high license fees for common PDF manipulation functions.

In upcoming installments of the Document Fidelity Management series we’ll discuss other tools (some that exist online) for managing and manipulating PDF files without the cost of license fees.

1) Create a PDF document (click here)
2) Cut PDF files (this document)
3) Merge PDF files (link pending)
4) Sharing PDF files (link pending)
5) Live Collaboration Techniques (link pending)


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