PDF X-Change Rocks: AR Soft Copy Survey Participants Take Note

Poll results for soft copy survey
Poll results for soft copy survey

This is the third and final post on the topic of which format is best for providing soft copy of briefing material to analysts. After a few more votes were added, the combined total of PDF and annotatable PDF formats got closer to Powerpoint in our survey. The final total was PPT 29, PDF13, annotatable PDF 10. (See chart at right.)

We received several additional interesting comments. Beth Hespe of the Garfield Group said,

If we are introducing a new tech/product/concept, I send ppt slides in advance. And, I hope that the analyst is prepared and took a look.

I agree, Beth. Personally, I would rather have the opportunity to prepare, even for a few minutes. We can get more done with the time we spend. And AR ought to expect that if you do send materials in advance that the analysts have taken the time to review them. It makes you both more effective.

Gordon Haff of Illuminata said he’d tried OneNote but it was not a successful experiment and he went back to a text editor. Finally, though, there was this provocative entry from Don Neely at IBM:

PPT can only be invoked by having a fee-based Microsoft Office product. If supposedly objective parties want to maintain objectivity then use a pdf, or if analysts need an editable version, then one of the many free editors that conform to the ODF industry standard protocol [can be used.]

Several people asked about editable PDFs. There are pointers to information if you do a Google search,  and of course we could suggest that analysts spend the money to buy a copy of Acrobat, but personally, I don’t want to spend the money. So I decided to try out one of the free download products myself, and the following is a quick review.

I downloaded PDF X-Change viewer from Tracker Software Products’ website here. The usual process, a bit clumsy, followed – unpack, run the installer. Told it I don’t want it to be the default PDF viewer. Then I opened a few PDFs to test. First impression – great speed. Second: sticky notes, text boxes are easy to find on the menu. I drew some circles around things for highlights, created sticky notes (out in the area away from the page so I could still see it – nice. Switched tools and tried the text box tool, which stays in place on the page itself – less useful if the page is densely packed. Used the search tool to find multiple references to the same thing, and quickly check if “partners” was mentioned. Worked fine. Highlighted some text, underlined some text – all works very nicely.

Finally, I saved the annotated files. Then I opened them with Adobe’s free Reader. My additions were still there, and in fact the Reader tools even showed them to me in the annotations pane. I was unable to make any changes to them, but when I went back into PDF X-Change I could.

So – industry analysts – get this puppy. It will make your lives somewhat simpler if you like to keep notes with the materials. I doubt that I’ll use Reader much now – I’m setting that default.

[Edit] Peter Kastner adds: for Mac users, that would be Skim.

Published by Merv Adrian

Independent information technology market analyst and consultant, 40 years of industry experience, covering software in and around the data management space.

5 thoughts on “PDF X-Change Rocks: AR Soft Copy Survey Participants Take Note

  1. Merv, good discussion. Hopefully both AR and analysts will benefit from this. Also thanks for the pointer to the PDF X-Change Tool.

  2. Thanks, Rick. I’m also checking out a.nnotate. Looks interesting. See http://a.nnotate.com/ for details – it’s not just for marking up PDFs, but also for “in the cloud” document collaboration and discussion. Looks pretty cool, but I haven’t tried it yet.

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