I realize that it’s often considered a marketing no-no to mention a competitor by name, but the title of this post is a good question that deserves a proper answer. Since we have received a lot of queries about this, I wanted to talk about the comparison and, hopefully, clear up some misconceptions.
ISIToolBox has been around for a long time. I first heard about it more than a decade ago when I was working in pharma myself and consulting to companies working on establishing good submissions practices. Sure, you needed to buy Acrobat first, since ToolBox worked as a plug-in, but what a plug-in it was! Some of the features were so strikingly distinctive and useful. As the years marched on, even more functionality was added, which saw the feature count for ToolBox grow from 40-plus in 2003 to 50-plus today.
In essence, it seems that those responsible for ToolBox (first ISI and now CSC) have taken an incremental approach to building the product. It is this approach that is responsible for the gradually increasing list of features. We tackled the development of Debenu PDF Aerialist, and in particular, the Pharma edition, rather differently. From the outset, we wanted it to seamlessly complement Acrobat’s functionality to deliver an integrated solution for those preparing documents for eCTD or NeeS submissions, e-filing or other purposes. That meant that we needed to start by carefully studying Acrobat’s interface and features to avoid redundancy. Acknowledging that Acrobat was delivering a key subset of the required functionality, we also started at a lower price-point than ToolBox. Finally, since we thought that the best test of whether a solution would fit a company’s workflow was to try it, we have always made sure to offer a fully-functional, free trial of Aerialist Pharma.
The different results of these two approaches is most apparent when using the latest versions of Acrobat. Adobe has been far from complacent in the last decade: ultimately, many of the third-party features that were so impressive in 2003 have since been built in to Acrobat. In other words, you can accomplish quite a lot without resorting to any plug-ins. The best way to illustrate this feature duplication is probably to work through the key features outlined on the TRS ToolBox product pages. Below, I’ll run through those key features, specifying how they can be addressed using the combination of Acrobat XI and Debenu PDF Aerialist Pharma.
- Create bookmarks and hyperlinks. Aerialist Pharma 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 Pharma features rich functionality for splitting, merging, stamping, and watermarking PDFs. Aerialist Pharma 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.
- Instantly prepare hundreds or thousands of files. Using Acrobat’s Action Wizard, selected files or whole folders of files can be prepared in large batches. Users can create Actions, each of which consists of a series of ordered steps using Aerialist Pharma or Acrobat features. Actions can be set to process thousands of files at a time and are saved for future use.
- Leverage the flexibility of named destinations. Aerialist Pharma 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.
- Prepare and validate electronic Common Technical Document (eCTD) submission and non-eCTD electronic submission (NeeS). Aerialist Pharma can create a NeeS table of contents, and can audit links or bookmarks in submissions regardless of language.
So, with all of that in mind, I think you are left with four key reasons for choosing Aerialist:
- Price. First and foremost, Aerialist Pharma wins the price contest, hands-down. TRS ToolBox is priced at $3,950 for the Professional or Pharma editions. By contrast, Debenu PDF Aerialist Pharma is a steal at $795.
- Lack of redundancy. Both Aerialist Pharma and ToolBox are Acrobat plug-ins, but while Aerialist Pharma has been crafted to work elegantly with Acrobat, ToolBox still includes obsolete features that are now natively supported by Acrobat.
- 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.
- 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, pharma and academic sectors. While this isn’t a reason to choose Aerialist, per se, it is a reason to consider it on an equal footing with ToolBox.
That’s all from me for now, but please do keep those good questions coming! If you would like to try Debenu PDF Aerialist Pharma there is a 14 day free trial