Review: PDF Expert for iPad

Managing documents has always been a cumbersome task on the iOS devices: iPad, iPhone and iPod touch, but manipulating PDF formatted documents is even more difficult. Mainly because PDF is a format normally used for read only documents.
There have been applications like Adobe Acrobat and the amazing PDFpen on Mac OS X to allow users to edit PDF documents on computers. Now with the prevalent of tablet devices it is natural to expect tools to be available on these devices too.

At the beginning; sounds like a long time ago but it has only been a year, the iPad was thought of by many as a content consuming device. Fortunately innovative developers begin to realize the power and potential of the iOS platform running in a form factor larger than the iPhone or iPod touch. Various developers started to release original iOS apps taking advantage both the form factor of the iPad and the innovative multi-touch UI of iOS. The first among these apps were Procreate, Sketcher and MagicPiano.

Now Readdle develops an iOS app calls “PDF Expert” to address the missing solution of manipulating PDF documents on the iOS devices.
List of Documents
One of the most difficult thing to do for iOS apps needing to manage documents is getting these documents into the iOS devices.

Apple’s method is to use iTunes to load documents and then synchronize these documents with the iOS devices. Unfortunately, the latter is not really what is done, it does not synchronize documents but creates copies of documents from the computer onto the iOS devices. Anyone who edits documents will agree that the goal is not to create multiple copies of documents to be edit. PDF Expert sees the same flaws and creates multiple methods to bring documents into the app, these nine methods can been seen bellow.
List of Available Methods to Retrieve Documents
Aside from these nine methods of connecting to servers the app can itself acts as a WebDAV server, allowing access to the documents stored in the app (on the iOS device) from any WebDAV compatible applications like a web browser or the built-in WebDAV client within OS X (greater than v10.1.1).
Network Sources
You can select any of these connected storage locations (folders) to synchronize with the contents in PDF Expert. That’s true synchronization not simply making copies of files like in Apple’s method.
Add New Sync Folder
Now you know how to get documents into PDF Expert let’s talk about what you can do with these PDF documents.

In the latest version of the app you can fill in PDF forms, insert either predefined stamps or custom ones from images stored in the iOS device’s photo albums. You can also save the annotated PDF as a “flattened” copy to commit the annotations made.

Let’s get into what you can do with annotations.

  • You can add text into the PDF, change its colour and size, and allows this text to be layer above the the content of the PDF.
  • You can add notes that will appear as yellow Note Bubbles on the page and you can place these bubbles anywhere that is appropriate.
  • You can select a group of text and apply a highlight, strikeout, underline, note or copy the selected content.
  • You can insert a saved signature anywhere in the PDF document. This signature can be resized to match the context of the PDF, so it will not look out of place.

Best of all these annotations are saved as soon as you make them, and if you are applying the annotation to a document in one of the synchronized folders all changes will be synchronized with the server/remote copy. Similarly any changes to the server/remote copy will be reflected in PDF Expert copy.

Any PDF documents in the app can be emailed in 3 different ways:

  • A Regular PDF version with editable annotations, signatures and form fields.
  • A Flattened PDF version where annotations, signatures and form fields have been committed and no longer editable.
  • A Summary of Annotations are added to the email body with the Regular PDF version attached.

Aside from annotations the app also allows the creations of bookmarks within the PDF that are transferrable to any PDF readers.

If you are in need of an app to help annotate any PDF documents on the iOS device, then the USD9.99 that the Readdle is asking for in the iTunes App Store is well worth the money.

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