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5/25/2010
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Jake Widman
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New PDF Tools For Windows, iPad

Nitro PDF Software's new, free Reader application is a full-featured program for reading, annotating, and manipulating PDF files, while the new version of iAnnotate for the iPad adds e-mail integration.

Nitro PDF Software's new, free Reader application is a full-featured program for reading, annotating, and manipulating PDF files, while the new version of iAnnotate for the iPad adds e-mail integration.Nitro has been in the PDF software business for ten years, starting as a developer of Adobe Acrobat plugins. In 2005, the company launched its flagship product, Nitro PDF Professional, and now it has come out with a free PDF reader to take on the "bloated" (Nitro's word) Adobe Acrobat Reader.

Nitro PDF Reader has been designed to be familiar to Microsoft Office users out of the box -- to be "the missing PDF component of the MS Office Suite." With that in mind, the interface is dominated by an Office-like Ribbon containing a Files tab, a Tasks tab, and a Help tab. The Tasks tab displays an assortment of frequently-used PDF handling tools, such as zoom, rotation, selection, highlighting, adding text or a note, extracting text or images, and so on.

One particularly nice feature is Nitro's ability to add a signature to a PDF document. You can import one or more digitized signatures as graphics, and they show up in a dropdown menu under the Stamp Signature icon in the ribbon. Choose one, and it's copied onto the PDF page, with a transparent background so the "sign here" line will show through.

Another welcome feature is the ability to save a partially filled interactive form. Acrobat users are familiar with the situation of getting part way through a complex form, only to discover that they can't save it with the information they've already filled in -- it's either finish the form right now or start over later. Nitro PDF Reader lets you save the form and return to it later without losing the information you've already added.

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Nitro has posted a video demo that goes through some of the other features. But given its price (free), there's little reason not to download it and try it out. If I weren't a Mac user, I certainly would. (Nitro PDF Reader runs on Windows XP, Vista, and 7, as well as Windows Server 2003 and 2008.)

Speaking of Apple products: Aji software has recently updated its iAnnotate PDF software for the iPad. iAnnotate combines a PDF reader with what you'd expect from its name -- the ability to annotate PDF files. The app can create text notes, highlight text, allow freeform drawing (e.g., for signatures), and other features. It also supports copying and pasting of text and viewing of existing annotations.

The main addition to the upgraded version (1.1) is the ability to e-mail annotated files right from within the app. It also supports the transfer of files via iTunes and USB and adds several improvements to the interface. iAnnotate costs $9.99 and is available through the iTunes store here.

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