Why buy Aerialist over TRS ToolBox (formerly ISIToolBox) Legal Edition?

The legal industry is driven by documents. As such, the preparation of legal documents needs to be fast, and it needs to be done right. A while back, I wrote a blog post about the use of Debenu PDF Aerialist with Acrobat for legal professionals, but it’s helpful to look at how Aerialist compares with a competing product in the space: TRS ToolBox Legal Edition.

First things first, the two products are both plug-ins for Acrobat, so that program is needed regardless. One of the interesting differences between ToolBox and Aerialist is the courses of their development. ToolBox (first as ISIToolBox and now as TRS ToolBox) has been around in one form or another for more than a decade, with more and more features added over time. Despite this incremental expansion of functionality, very little has been removed from the product in that time. Since Acrobat has also added significant functionality during that span, there are now marked functional overlaps between the two pieces of software.

Add Bookmarks for Legal PDF

By contrast, Debenu PDF Aerialist has been built from the ground up to work in concert with Acrobat without feature bloat or redundancy. Like ToolBox, Aerialist has been built using a mature and growing technology base. Unlike ToolBox, Aerialist has kept pace with Acrobat’s increasing feature-set to remain a perfect complement to that fundamental PDF application. When features become redundant due to the addition of core Acrobat functionality, they are removed or expanded in Aerialist. Perhaps the most intriguing part of this equation for shrewd purchasing officers is that Debenu also doesn’t charge for these redundant features, which accounts for significant unit savings, when compared with TRS ToolBox Legal Edition. We also don’t expect potential users to simply take our word for it, and have always offered a fully-functional, 14-day free trial of Aerialist.

Add Check Amend Links in PDF For Legal

While I’ve already addressed functionality in broad strokes, it’s worth looking at key features in detail:

  • Easily create bookmarks and hyperlinks. Aerialist can create bookmarks or links based on keywords, headings, fonts, tables of contents, page references, PDFs, settings files, or folder locations.
  • Manage, validate and audit links and bookmarks. In Aerialist, links and bookmarks can be configured, viewed, audited and validated in bulk. This functionality also allows users to repair bookmarks and links.
  • Access a palette of publishing tools. Aerialist features rich functionality for splitting, merging, stamping, and watermarking PDFs. Aerialist can split by page range, bookmarks, or page marks. Meanwhile, merging can be conducted either manually or according to a control file. Users can also add page numbers, letterheads, headers and footers, logos, or a range of dynamic stamps (including Bates numbers).
  • Redact content. Acrobat features strong support for redacting or censoring sensitive content. Users can remove the desired content manually or automatically via keyword, key-phrase or pattern-recognition (i.e., credit card details, phone numbers, social security numbers, email addresses or dates). Acrobat can also sanitize a document by removing sensitive information that may not be visible, including metadata, hidden or obscured content, or stored form data.
  • Enhance the quality of PDF files. Acrobat features sophisticated optical character recognition (OCR) functionality, can enhance scanned images, and reduce PDF file size for easy transmission.
  • Easily extract text and images from PDF files. Acrobat natively supports the extraction of PDF content by either manually selecting text and/or images. Acrobat can also convert entire PDFs as into a range of editable formats.
  • Leverage the flexibility of named destinations. Aerialist users can easily create, manage or modify bookmarks and links in bulk. Further, intelligent splitting and merging functionality is set by default to automatically preserve or update links and bookmarks regardless of re-pagination.

pdf_audit_legal_768x90_white

So, with all of that in mind, I think you are left with five key reasons for choosing Aerialist:

  1. Price. First and foremost, Aerialist is more economical than TRS ToolBox. For a single license, TRS ToolBox Legal Edition weighs in at $750, while Debenu PDF Aerialist is a mere $495.
  2. Lack of redundancy. Both Aerialist and ToolBox are Acrobat plug-ins, but while Aerialist has been crafted to work elegantly with Acrobat, ToolBox still includes obsolete features that are now natively supported by Acrobat.
  3. Complements Acrobat. Aerialist has a demonstrated ability to keep up with changes to Acrobat, while TRS ToolBox still includes bloated, redundant features. Since past behaviour is the best predictor of future behaviour, Aerialist is more likely to stay in step with Acrobat going forward.
  4. Free trial. While both vendors offer pre-sales support, there is only a free, fully-featured trial version available for Aerialist. Given the important role of the product chosen, this allows potential customers to properly stress-test the product under real-world conditions.
  5. Feature parity. While they present and implement their functionality in different ways, both product offerings offer the key features needed to facilitate document preparation in the legal sector. While this isn’t a reason to choose Aerialist as such, it is a reason to consider it on an equal footing with ToolBox.

That’s all from me for now. If you would like to try Debenu PDF Aerialist there is a 14-day free trial.splitting_legal_768x90_white

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iPhones Less Cool Now, But Still Important

With the release of our mobile SDK on the horizon, I’ve been thinking a lot about mobile operating systems lately. In particular, I’ve realized something interesting: the “cool” factor of iPhones simply isn’t what it used to be. When they first came out, they were breath-catchingly impressive. You noticed when someone had an iPhone. There was just something special about them. Now, I only find myself noticing when someone doesn’t have an iPhone. I find that I only ask people about their phones, experiences, etc., when they aren’t using an iPhone.

I think that there are a few reasons for this. As the top of this post implies, iPhones just aren’t all that sexy any more, even if you ignore things like “Bendgate” with the iPhone 6. My parents have iPhones. My parents understand iPhones. iPhones aren’t new any more. Instead, they are considered a safe, reliable option. In terms of installed users, iPhones might be the single most popular line of smartphones. Even if there are more total Android-based smartphones in the hands of users, this figure spans multiple manufacturers and model types.

Since the breakthrough that was the original iPhone release, the mystique has faded somewhat, but let’s take a walk down memory lane. Apple did what few (if any) others could have. It put pressure on carriers to set the scene for today’s proliferation of cellular data access, paving the way for phone-based always-online navigation and ubiquitous palm-top computing. The design, UI and functionality of the iPhone were the product of arduous, secretive development processes, and the final product was more than just impressive: it was revolutionary. Now, the war has been won, and there is a smartphone in almost every pocket. We as a community are literate in touch-screen technology and comfortable with the minimal reliance on physical buttons.

In addition to the quality of the original iPhone, Apple had long been a tech company that did an amazing job of selling itself as an image-based lifestyle company. Part of that was down to the vision and charisma of co-founder Steve Jobs. I still remember watching a keynote presentation by Jobs in which, to whoops of excitement, he announced the replacement of the stylish, but Carpal tunnel syndrome-inducing burger-shaped mouse (centre-bottom in the picture) with the far more comfortable capsule-shaped mouse. Given that he could do so much with so little, it’s unsurprising that he and Apple did so well with a genuine breakthrough like the iPhone.

Jobs is gone now, and successor Tim Cook, while reputedly a genius with logistics and supply chains, lacks Jobs’ personal magnetism. The absence of a world-class company evangelist takes some of the shine off Apple’s image. Apple lagged behind other leading smartphone manufacturers when it came to offering larger screen sizes, and Jobs wasn’t around to convince everyone that it didn’t matter.

A big part of Apple’s marketing strategy in the past has been to present itself as the cooler alternative to the establishment. Key examples of this include the striking 1984-inspired ad for the original Apple Macintosh and the Mac vs PC ads, in which the ubiquitous PC was personified as a staid, sometimes-embittered buffoon, while the Mac’s avatar was stylish, generous and effortlessly competent. These days, Apple is a target of this sort of ridicule — see, for example, this cheeky ad from Samsung. To some degree, Apple has been a victim of its own success: now, Apple is the establishment. As of Q2, 2014, Apple is the largest company in the world, based on market capitalization.

One consequence of the iPhone’s revolutionary impact is that a huge number of consumers have switched to smartphones and, having switched, are now au fait with iPhone-style interfaces, touch screens and the like. This comfort means that, at least in my opinion, Apple is now in a position where its devices are more objectively compared with those offered by competitors based on features and pricing. These have not necessarily been areas of strength for recent iPhone releases, which remain among the more expensive smartphones. In the last few generations, iPhones also haven’t added much in the way of killer features, and in that time, phones running competing platforms like Android have really come along, both in terms of features and compatible software.

Both platforms now claim more than 800k apps, and aggregated user reviews on their respective stores imply that iOS now holds only a slight edge in average app rating (a rough measure of perceived app quality). In particular, the growth in cross-platform support for major apps like Spotify has made switching between iOS and Android increasingly seamless. Taken together, these factors have likely had a large impact on the changes to iPhone’s share of the smartphone user base over the last few years.

Nevertheless, there are a lot of iPhones out there, and they probably aren’t going anywhere. That doesn’t even speak to the tablet space, where iPads seem to remain dominant (numbers are from 2013, but current figures on installed users are harder to find that those on the misleading market share metric).

Anyway, all of this means that iOS is a good target for development, both strategically and practically. It is stable, has a large user base, and Apple’s direct control of the hardware side limits the range of system configurations and form factors to be considered for testing and optimization purposes. In fact, iPhone form factors have been so stable that, starting from the initial 2007 release, their displays didn’t change from 3.5″ until the iPhone 5 went to 4″ in 2012. Apple was also late to offer 4.7″ or larger displays, only doing so with the iPhone 6 in September, 2014.

Of course, the darker side of stability is stagnation. I’d argue that Apple’s delay in increasing screen sizes drove many iPhone users to switch over to Android. There have been Android phones that support 4.7″ or larger displays since at least 2011, a good three years before Apple’s first 4.7″ offering. Samsung released the 4.65″ Galaxy Nexus and the 5.3″ N7000 Galaxy Note the following year, and 2013’s LG Nexus 5 is 4.95″. Nevertheless, the number of different manufacturers and models has also meant that, even within a single generation, Android-based smartphones are a more diverse bunch “under the hood” than are iPhones.

As a developer, Android’s popularity alone makes it wise to support that platform, although the wider range of hardware complicates testing and optimization. As a user, I love my Android phone, and haven’t looked back since I switched from my last iPhone a few years ago.

Despite that, as a software guy and businessman, I have to acknowledge the continuing importance of iOS for development. That’s why we’ll be supporting both iOS and Android when we release the new mobile version of Debenu Quick PDF Library in the next few months.

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Wearable PDF?

Image from Flickr by Antonio Zugaldia

Image from Flickr by Antonio Zugaldia

With the recent announcement of the Apple Watch, I’ve been thinking about wearables. In particular, I’ve been thinking about the possible interface between wearables and PDF development. Honestly, I think the likely uses are few and limited — but still potentially important.

As I see it, there are two major limitations that limit the utility of PDF applications in wearable technology: form factor and interface. The first is simply a product of wearability. A watch screen simply isn’t all that big. The Google Glass, which displays the equivalent of a 25″ high-def screen at a distance of 8 feet, has other problems. Glass has spawned concerns about privacy (it can discreetly shoot video or snap photos), and fears that it will constitute an obvious badge of membership for “an affluent tech elite”. Indeed, the public testers of Glass, known as explorers, have already been targeted in several attacks, and have been encouraged by Google itself to avoid being “glassholes”.

My main point, though, is that wearables generally feature small screens that just aren’t that great for consuming the traditional, paginated content for which PDF is so well suited. Glass, which solves the form factor problem, may turn out to be a non-starter if too few people are willing to be seen wearing it.

The second problem is interface. In order to be wearable, devices need to be small, which leaves limited room for an interface. Even touch screens become less usable if you can barely move your finger around on them. The new Digital Crown in the Apple Watch simplifies zooming and (vertical) scrolling somewhat, but isn’t really designed to facilitate full viewing of paginated documents, let alone editing and creation.

Image from Flickr by samwebster

Image from Flickr by samwebster

Where I think wearables and PDF play most happily together is in the ticketing and digital pass/card spaces. If you could just display a PDF pass with a QR code from your watch, that would be a great example of PDF and wearable working together to make life easier. Really, isn’t that what it’s all about in the end?

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Debenu Quick PDF Library 11.13 Beta 1

Debenu Quick PDF Library 11.13 Beta 1 has been released and is ready for downloading and testing.  The 11.13 Beta 1 installer can be downloaded from the button below.

Download Debenu Quick PDF Library

Release Notes

Bug fixes

  • Fixed text extraction bounding box issues with CVision OCR’d PDF’s
  • Fine tuning of underlined fonts and the underline thickness for EMF
  • Fixed a regression issue in NormalizePage with CropBoxes
  • Fixed GetPageImageList exporting 8-bit CMYK images
  • Fixed a font rendering issue with a true type font
  • Fixed Arc rendering routines when angle was greater than 180 degrees
  • Improved importing of EMF font mappings when not embedding fonts
  • Fixed linearization issue with encrypted files
  • Fixed linearization issue that caused incomplete files on output

Upgrading To Version 11

If you are still using version 7, 8, 9 or 10 and would like to upgrade visit this page:

Feedback! Any feedback large or small is appreciated. We’ll shortly be planning the next round of exciting new features for Debenu Quick PDF Library, so we’d really like to know what you want to see added to the SDK. Don’t be shy, email us and have your say.

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The Female Technologist: Someone Has to be First

While I’m happy to be a unicorn, I do often think about why there aren’t more women in tech, or even why we seem to be underrepresented in the wheeling-and-dealing world of start-ups and entrepreneurship. One reason that has been suggested is that there aren’t all that many of us already in tech/entrepreneurship/any male-dominated industry. Specific objections can revolve around concerns that there aren’t enough potential female peers or mentors in a given sector. The biggest problem with this is that it makes the status quo self-sustaining. Someone has to be first. Perhaps one answer is that, if you can’t find a female mentor, be one.

As I noted in my earlier post, Debenu’s head programmer is female. What I didn’t mention is that I aggressively pursued her for the post. Don’t get me wrong. It’s not as though she was previously making her living by weaving baskets, singing arias or working as CFO of a fortune 500 company — although I’m sure she could do any of those things if she put her mind to them. She was already a seasoned software developer. I just thought she was working for the wrong company (i.e., not ours). Together, we set up Debenu’s main development office. She now manages that site, providing supervision and guidance to both male and female team members.

Our story isn’t unique, but it is unusual. Some day, the story of two women collaborating to help build a tech business might be so common as to be boring, that day isn’t today. As for mentorship, I have just joined an organization that provides investment capital, advice and support to entrepreneurs of both genders and from various industries. Someone might have to be first, but we needn’t be the last.

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Why You Need PDF Aerialist for Print: It Does What Acrobat Can’t (Imposition)

PDF is a perfect fit for print workflows. It’s hardly surprising, though. From the very start, PDF was designed with printing in mind, and it supports all sorts of fancy things like page fidelity, self-containment (e.g., via embedded fonts and images), device-independent color. For quite a while now, Acrobat Professional has also included a collection of specialized features for printing. While the breadth of Acrobat’s print-related functionality has grown across successive versions, there’s one key area that Acrobat doesn’t directly address at all: imposition.

To explain what that is, I’ll start by quoting the very helpful Wikipedia page on the topic:

Imposition … [is] the arrangement of … pages on the printer’s sheet, in order to obtain faster printing, simplify binding and reduce paper waste. Correct imposition minimizes printing time by maximizing the number of pages per impression, reducing cost of press time and materials. To Achieve this, the printed sheet must be filled as fully as possible.

Thanks, Wikipedia! So then, in its absolute simplest form, a key point of imposition is to fit multiple pages on each sheet for printing. With many commercial printing methods, changing the content to be printed means physically changing the plate or equivalent. That means that, the more pages you can fit on a single plate/sheet, the fewer times you need to change the plates, and the more efficient your print run.

The number of sheets per page isn’t the only consideration, though. The placement and organization of pages should also be informed by the stitching method, grain of the printing substrate (e.g., type of paper), and intended finishing and binding methods.

It’s crucial to get imposition right. Done properly, imposition facilitates stitching, finishing and binding, minimizes waste, and maximizes efficiency. Since Acrobat Pro can’t help with this, having no imposition features and all, where can you turn? As the title of this post implies, this is where Aerialist comes in.

Debenu PDF Aerialist offers a full set of imposition functionality. Using it, you can repeat pages to print business cards or labels (step and repeat), turn regular, sequential PDFs into books or booklets that are ready for binding (2-up, 4-up, N-up), re-size, shuffle or rotate media (i.e., pages), and optimize projects for specific printing processes.

PDF and Acrobat Professional offer good support for print workflows, but there is still a substantial functional gap — a gap that is filled when Acrobat is paired with the imposition functionality of Debenu PDF Aerialist. You don’t need to take my word for it, though. Check out the free trial to see for yourself.

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Debenu Quick PDF Library 11.12 Released

The final version of Debenu Quick PDF Library 11.12 has been released and is ready for download from our product updates page.

This new version is full of new functions, enhancements and bug fixes and we recommend that all customers upgrade to it to take advantage of the improvements. Visit the product updates page to download this new version and see a full list of the changes.

Download 11.12 from our Product Updates page

Version 11.12 Highlights

  • Bug fixes for Linearization
  • Fixed import of TIFF images with the strips are also tiles
  • Fixed NormalizePoge to not process Annots when Page rotation is already 0 degrees
  • Fixed TPDFIndObj.Decode to correctly decode PDF attachments
  • Fixed rendering of a malformed Type1 font
  • Fixed rendering of line thikness on certain PDF’s
  • Fixed autosubsetting of fonts with DrawHTMLText in certain cases
  • Fixed combobox issue
  • Fixed DrawEllipticArc and EMFArc importing issues

Upgrading

Debenu Quick PDF Library 11 is a major new version of the product which means that the upgrade process is different from the minor version upgrade process, namely, upgrades are not free unless you meet certain requirements.

Free upgrades

Customers who purchased version 10 of Debenu Quick PDF Library on or after the 10th of July, 2014 (within 60 days of version 11’s release) or who own an active Premium Upgrade Protection subscription are eligible for free upgrades from version 10 to version 11.

Contact our sales team if you fall into this category and we’ll help you out.

Purchase an upgrade

An upgrade from version 10 or earlier versions to version 11 can be purchased at a discount (starting price is $269.00) through our online store. Users can upgrade their Single Developer, Multiple Developer or Source Code licenses to version 11. It’s also possible to purchase Premium Upgrade Protection with your upgrade purchase.

For example, if you own a Single Developer License + Standard Upgrade Protection for version 10 of Debenu Quick PDF Library then you will need to purchase the Single Developer Upgrade License + Standard Upgrade Protection (10.x to 11.x) product in order to upgrade to version 11 — though you can choose to buy the Premium Upgrade Protection version of that product if you prefer.

Feedback

As always we’d love to hear your thoughts on the new version of Debenu Quick PDF Library. If you have any questions, comments or general feedback, please let us know.

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Debenu PDF Viewer SDK 11.12 Released

The final version of Debenu PDF Viewer SDK 11.12.0.1 has been released and is ready for download from our product updates page.

This new version is full of new functions, enhancements and bug fixes and we recommend that all customers upgrade to it to take advantage of the improvements. Visit the product updates page to download this new version and see a full list of the changes.

Download 11.12 from our Product Updates page

Version 11.12 Highlights

  • Fixed flickering issue with component
  • Fixed mouse cursor flicker
  • Scrolling fix when changing window size in Fit Zoom mode
  • Page rendering glitch fix when resizing window
  • Search text now changes view position to show search result on page
  • Added wait cursor on search and open file routines

Try the new version

A full list of the changes in Debenu PDF Viewer SDK 11 can be found on our product updates page. You can also download a 30 day limitation-free trial version of the library.

Upgrading

Debenu PDF Viewer SDK 11 is a major new version of the product which means that the upgrade process is different from the minor version upgrade process, namely, upgrades are not free unless you meet certain requirements.

Free upgrades

Customers who purchased version 11 of Debenu PDF Viewer SDK on or after the 10th of July, 2014 (within 60 days of version 11’s release) or who own an active Premium Upgrade Protection subscription are eligible for free upgrades from version 10 to version 11.

Contact our sales team if you fall into this category and we’ll help you out.

Purchase an upgrade

An upgrade from version 10 to version 11 can be purchased at a discount (starting price is $210.00) through our online store. Users can upgrade their Single Developer or Multiple Developer licenses to version 11. It’s also possible to purchase Premium Upgrade Protection with your upgrade purchase.

For example, if you own a Single Developer License + Standard Upgrade Protection for version 10 of Debenu PDF Viewer SDK then you will need to purchase the Single Developer Upgrade License + Standard Upgrade Protection (11.x to 12.x) product in order to upgrade to version 11 -— though you can choose to buy the Premium Upgrade Protection version of that product if you prefer.

Feedback

As always we’d love to hear your thoughts on the new version of Debenu PDF Viewer SDK. If you have any questions, comments or general feedback, please let us know.

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Bytes and Bobs: What is Agile Development?

Here at Debenu, we make developer products (among others) through software development. In a lot of ways, that means that Debenu and our developer community are peers as well as having the traditional vendor-client relationship. By virtue of that unusual relationship, we are in a position to learn from our clients, as are they from us. In particular, our internal processes can potentially be quite relevant to our customers (and vice versa).

We do our darndest to run an efficient, capital-A Agile workflow (specifically, we favor Scrum. So, why didn’t I just say that we “do” Agile development? Well, the term is both popular and frequently misunderstood. Some (perhaps many) companies claim to be Agile, but for one reason or another haven’t implemented key features of Agile development practices. We don’t claim to be getting it completely “right” (we’re not sure that we are), but we do like the basic principles, and have found a system that works for us. Often, a certain amount of compromise ensues as soon as the tyres hit the tarmac, so to speak, and we don’t think we’re an exception to that. Anyway, I thought it might be helpful to start writing a series of posts about how we work here at Debenu.

First up, what is Agile? In general, Agile methodologies are focused on short cycles of iterative development. Planning, design, development, integration, testing and deployment are all completed by small, cross-functional teams, and within a flat, collaborative organizational structure.

In Scrum at least, each iteration (or “sprint”) should finish with a potentially shippable increment of a product. That’s a bit of a mouthful, but essentially that means you need to finish each sprint with some working software. Early iterations should work, but they’ll be thin on the feature front. In fact, the first iteration might only have one feature, but that feature ought to function correctly.

The idea is that the final product can be built in vertical slices, a few features at a time. Between iterations, reactions should be solicited from the team and relevant stakeholders such as clients, and this feedback can then be used to drive the next round of development.

Agile methodologies are typically contrasted with conventional “Waterfall” methods, characterized by discrete, sequential development cycles. Each phase might be conducted by a different team, and there is generally no working prototype available until near the end of the release cycle.

I won’t speak about them in great detail, other than to point out that Waterfall methods seek to anticipate needs and challenges before anyone can use the software. As such, many functional problems can only be identified very late in the process. If the client sees a prototype and wants to change direction (for example, due to a miscommunication about functional needs), then the team needs to return to an earlier phase in the development cycle to fix the problem.

There are quite a few approaches to implementing Agile development practices, including Scrum, which is the one we favor here at Debenu. In future posts, I plan to describe some of them and talk about how we have structured our own development processes.

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Planet PDF Maintenance

Planet PDF logoPlanet PDF is currently down for scheduled maintenance while we update the server hardware that is used to run the website. During this time you will be unable to access the content on the main Planet PDF website, however, the Planet PDF Forum will still be accessible and active.

We apologize for any inconvenience this causes to you. Leave a comment if you would like to be notified once Planet PDF is back online or if you have a question that we might be able to assist you with.

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