PDFescape: Adobe Reader in the Cloud

PDFs are designed to be the ultimate portable document, and even today they’re one of the most popular to share everything from forms to eBooks. The only problem is, they’re rather difficult to deal with. Sure, you can read them anywhere, but you’ll usually need a native app such as Adobe Reader installed, and then editing PDFs will require an expensive app like Adobe Acrobat.

PDFescape is a web application that claims to do everything that a normal PDF reader is capable of, and more. Is it a worthy alternative to the pdf giants like Adobe Reader and Foxit Reader, or is it just a wanna be? Let’s find out.

Registration

PDFescape can be used without having to register at the website, but then, obviously, suppose you edit a pdf file and do not save it into your pc then you’ll not be able to access it again. Registration is free, and lets you store your files online and share them.  Premium account costs $10 per year and gives you more storage space and is ad free.

Inside PDFescape

After login you are taken to your dashboard from where you can navigate to the files you have in your account, edit pdf files, publish PDF forms for others to edit (Available only for premium users), and modify your profile.

main

PDFescape Dashboard

Create, read and edit pdf files

You can upload .tiff and .pdf files to PDFescape, but you are restricted to a maximum of 10mb and 100 pages per file. I tried to upload a pdf file of less than 10mb but PDFescape flashed an error that the book had more than 100 pages. So I had to open ebooks one by one in the default ebook reader in my pc, check for one that had less than 100 pages and then upload it, hence defeating the purpose of PDFescape. Size restriction is viable, but page restriction is not a good idea, PDFescape folks!

upload

Uploading… Uploading…

error

sorry! more than 100 pages :(

The pdf reader works like other readers, albeit with a few features missing. You can view, rotate and magnify your file to your preferred viewing style, save and download the file, print your pdf document, copy content from the file to your clipboard, etc.

PDFescape allows you to create pdf documents from scratch also. To do it,

  • go to your account -> edit pdf -> “Create new pdf”
  • Specify the number of pages, page size and click “create”

You will then be able to type in the content you wish and use the available editing tools to your advantage to create a pdf document.

create pdf

Create a pdf Document From Scratch

The toolbox is divided into 3 – Insert, Annotate and Page. Sufficient tools are there to edit your pdf document such as insert text, image, draw freehanded, highlight text, add sticky notes to it, etc but I found one crucial feature to be missing, the Undo option. Now I dunno if they forgot to include the undo action feature or if they thought that it was bad luck to include it, but,

“THIS IS THE MOST IMPORTANT FEATURE IN ANY EDITOR!”

You can modify the metadata of your pdf file by clicking on the ‘i’ icon at the top near which you also get an option to encrypt your file with a password.

Work With Forms

PDFescape allows you to create fillable forms. You can add forms to an existing file or create a new pdf form. To do this,

  • In the pdf editor window, click on “form field” in the “insert” toolbox and select the type of the form field.
  • Click and drag the mouse pointer on your workspace to add the field.

This app supports various field types, viz, text, checkbox, radio, list, and drop down fields- enough to help you design a form. I was a bit disappointed due the lack of alignment options or girds. I had to manually arrange the form fields.

form

Create Forms using PDFescape

Publish Your Files Online

PDFescape allows you to distribute your pdf files. Once you have published it, a link to the file will be provided which you can specify on your website, emails or where you want to. Users who visit the PDF via this link will be able to fill out and modify the PDF file without needing to purchase or download any PDF software.

You can set which tools your customers will and won’t be allowed to use. You can even specify whether your customers are allowed to export the PDF or if they have an option to “submit it” sending a copy of the filled out form to you via email.

This is a paid service and you can use it by buying Publishing Credits. With one credit you can publish one file.

publish

A Costly Choice

What I like

PDFescape does not require any external tools or addons such as Adobe Flash or Active X to run. Further, editing a pdf document doesn’t add watermarks to the document, unlike other free pdf editors. That, and the ability to edit PDFs from your browser, makes it a nice option to keep around, at least for that.

Conclusion

PDFescape seems to be an incomplete web application with a few important features missing. Sure, it provides a better and integrated functionality than most other pdf applications, but my opinion, this app, unfortunately, is not yet perfect. It shows a lot of promise, though. I hope the next time I visit PDFescape, it may be better.


Summary

Online PDF reader, editor, form filler, & form designer

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