NWA-PCUG Newsletter Article, July 2002
The President's Column
by Dale Oliver, President
(click to email author)

David Hinds did an excellent job facilitating the ever-popular Q&A session last month, as usual. It would be safe to say that we all learned something worthwhile from the meeting. Thanks, David! Be sure to attend our July meeting when Grant Wales will give a show-and-tell presentation on IrfanView, a highly regarded shareware program for viewing and manipulating digital photos, graphics, etc.

Speaking of obtaining quality software for a modest cost, I wanted to share one of my fairly recent discoveries with you. I was searching for a way to create PDF (Portable Document Format) files without installing a lot of "bloatware" on my system and without spending hundreds of dollars.

As you may be aware, the PDF format is quite popular because the software used to view PDF documents can be downloaded for free from http://www.adobe.com. Additionally, the PDF format allows others to view exactly what the original document looked like when it was created, including page layout, callout boxes, charts and graphics, photos, etc.

Contrast that with HTML, which is ubiquitous throughout the Internet because it only requires a Web browser to view the files, but what the end user actually sees depends on the user's computer and settings such as browser window size, screen resolution, etc. Or consider the drawbacks of a word processing document: The recipient(s) must purchase the same word processing document or own one that is capable of converting the document from your format into theirs before viewing what you sent. Often, conversions are somewhat problematic and underwhelming to say the least.

An additional potential drawback of both HTML and word processing documents is the fact that the recipient can modify the document that was sent. This might not be desirable if the document is a user manual, legal document, contract, invoice, or anything else you want the recipient to view but not change.

After evaluating a number of different potential solutions, I settled on PDF995. The PDF995 software is downloadable from http://www.pdf995.com. Instead of installing a complicated, expensive software suite on your computer, you can install this small, simple, inexpensive program. It acts like a print driver, and all you have to do is "print" to the PDF995 print driver as if you were printing or faxing a document from your computer. PDF995 converts the document for you and writes it to a filename you specify. The cost? A practically unbelievable $9.95. Even better, you can download and evaluate it for your specific purposes before you decide to invest under ten bucks for the software!

I have used PDF995 in a commercial setting where it is integrated with custom software used to create legal contracts as PDF e-mail attachments, and it has performed without a hitch. And one can hardly complain about simple, reliable software that costs $9.95 per workstation.

Of course you can choose to "reinvent the wheel" and spend hours evaluating everything from Adobe Acrobat Writer to various PDF-creating freeware programs, or you could simply take my advice and download PDF995 if you are looking for a simple, effective, inexpensive way to create PDF documents. Of course, I have no affiliation with PDF995 other than being a satisfied customer. I think it's a gem.

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