The most significant and enduring product I ever reviewed for MacWEEK in the early to mid-Ô90s was the first version of Adobe Acrobat (sorry, Samir and Dave). It was far from my favorite, though. (That would probably be Attain’s In Control, succeeded very well by today’s OmniOutliner. Other favorites included the still-kicking QuicKeys and its once fellow CE Software property Arrange, first offered by Common Knowledge.) At the time, there were a number of products vying to become the lingua franca for document exchange and I actually preferred a competitor called Common Ground, which was eventually buried by Hummingbird, now part of Open Text.
At launch, Acrobat lacked the ability to embed fonts whereas Common Ground could create a 300 dpi bitmap of a document. That of course was unacceptable for pro use, but I liked the concept for consumers. What’s more, the Mac version of Common Ground could generate a Windows executable with the document embedded. That was a pretty slick trick in the day, but one that would be unworkable today with all the fear regarding virus and malware.
Nowadays, the competition among formats has been replaced somewhat with the competition for readers and editors for PDF. I’ve been using Foxit Reader on machines where Acrobat Reader is either too slow or has been buggy (and yes, Acrobat Reader has gotten better.) There’s a promising new entrant, though, and that’s Nitro PDF Reader. Like the Foxit reader, Nitro’s reader is available only under Windows, but it looks and feels more like a modern Windows program, taking full advantage of Aero conventions and blending right in visually with Office. For fellow Evernote users, Nitro Software signed up as a partner for Trunk, an in-app app store that will offer products that can flow all kinds of content into the multi-platform multimedia note repository.
Uniquely among free Windows PDF readers, Nitro’s PDF Reader includes a print driver to generate PDFs, something that is of course built into Mac OS X and is handled well under Windows by free products such as PrimoPDF and CutePDF Writer, but it’s nice to have the option of one-stop shopping. Alas, if you’d like to combine multiple PDFs into one document, though, you must step up to Nitro Software’s full, professional package. Still, if you’re a Windows user, it’s worth considering as your main PDF reader.