pdf-Office Professional 4.0

Something of a niche product, pdf-Office Professional 4.0 enables the creation of PDF forms. Its interface resembles that of Microsoft Word, and it allows for the editing of text, graphics and form fields. Fields can include those for text, passwords, calculation and spreadsheets.

Form fields and graphics can be positioned simply by drag-&-drop, and finished forms are launched in Acrobat Reader to test the functions. It supports all PDF security settings, including 128-bit encryption.

The latest version not only allows the creation of new PDF forms, it also permits existing PDF files to be imported and used as templates. This is not only an obvious time-saver but will help ensure consistency of design for companies moving from paper to PDF forms.

Other handy new features include the ability to add icons to button fields and a snap-to-grid feature that's available in all zoom levels.

pdf-Office provides two different editing modes – Layout for entering field and form data, and View for editing colours, borders, fonts, etc. This is a sensible way of simplifying the form-creation process.

One quibble with pdf-Office is its Java roots, which lends it an unMac-like look and feel. Its menu bar icons, for example, are child-like and microscopically small. Navigating to saved or new files will also irritate those, like myself, who hate being forced to burrow down through files by endless double-clicking to get where they need to go. And I don't know about you but I resent being rail-roaded into accepting a company's marketing spam as a condition of downloading its software, particularly for mere demos, as is the case with Universe Software.

“Fair's fair”, it says on its website. Not according to the Data Protection Act it isn't.


pdf-Office Professional is billed as being a low-cost competitor to Adobe Acrobat Professional, but this really only applies to Acrobat 7.0 Professional for Windows, which includes LiveCycle Designer 7.0, an advanced PDF form creator. In Acrobat Professional for Mac the options are far more limited, requiring that the user first create a form in a package such as InDesign, export it as a PDF, open it in Acrobat Professional and choose the Make Form Fillable option. This lack of alternatives makes pdf-Office a compelling proposition for Mac users who need to create PDF forms. Should LiveCycle become available as part of Acrobat Professional for Mac (£163) you'll need to determine how much of Acrobat's other functions you'll use. If the answer's “none” or “very little” then pdf-Office will continue to make perfect sense.

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