I’ve long been a fan of ABBYY’s OCR software, so I was interested when I saw they’ve released a more fully-featured PDF editing suite. It’s called ABBYY PDF Transformer+, and the company threw me a review copy to check out.
It is Windows only, so Mac readers are going to have to sit this one out.
You can see from the home screen that you can open a file (or files) or scan an image in. You can the convert it to a number of different formats.
Despite the name, PDF Transformer+ is more than just a PDF converter. It will let you edit, manipulate, annotate, redact, and OCR PDF documents.
Convert To PDF
I scanned a document to JPG and then used the ABBYY program to convert it to a searchable PDF. I intentionally used a lower-quality scanner than my ScanSnap to see how it would handle it. I scanned to JPG at 300dpi.
When you import a file, it takes you to the main work screen.
As you can see below, you have many options when it comes to conversion. I chose the first: Searchable PDF Document.
To give you an idea of quality, here are the files:
Merge And Manipulate PDFs
You can open multiple files and merge them together. You can change the order, remove files, and even apply OCR to the resulting scan.
When you have a file open with multiple pages, you can move the pages around, remove pages that you don’t need anymore, and directly add pages from a scanner or other file right into the document that you are working on.
I ran another article through the PDF Transformer+’s searchable text conversion process. It is the same file that I used in my old OCR Smackdown post if you want to compare the results to other applications.
Here is the relevant section of the article:
Let’s see how PDF Transformer+ did:
The spreadsheet has become the virtual “slide rale” for CMAs. It’s used for everything from preliminary strategic plans to financial statements. As with any familiar method, it finds its way into numerous situations where better alternatives are available, most significantly in its widespread use as a de facto reporting tool.
The appeal ofthe spreadsheet as the quickest way to get a report out is not hard to appreciate. “Excel is probably the most comfortable environment for a lot of financial professionals,” Alok Ajmera, vice-president, professional services with Mississauga, Ont.-based Prophix Software, says. “There’s a very little learning curve, you can effectively do whatever you want with the data, and it works fairly well in smaller organizations.”
Periodic and complex reporting in processes like revenue management or cost management, however, is where the spreadsheet model really starts to break down.
Other than “slide rale”, not bad at all. It is rare to get 100% accuracy with OCR.
You can mark up, annotate, stamp, and redact PDF documents. You can highlight text, make notes, and create your own stamps. It does Bates Numbering for you lawyer types.
One feature I could not find is the ability to create a stamp from your own image. This can be handy for things like scanned signatures.
Edit PDF Text
PDF Transformer+ gives you the ability to edit the text in a PDF, but what you can do depends on the type of PDF you are working with.
If you are working with a PDF that has been downloaded from the web or generated from a word processing program, you can edit the text in the document on a line-by-line basis.
If you have a scanned document, the best you can do is put a text box or eraser over top of the image. Unfortunately, as far as I can tell you can’t directly edit the text in a scanned document like you can with Acrobat or Nitro.
As you saw earlier, you can convert a image or PDF document to a number of different formats including Word, Excel, PowerPoint, HTML, EPUB, text, RTF, CSV, and OpenOffice.
As a test, I converted the document I scanned at the beginning of the article to Word. Let’s see how it did.
Pretty good, and I was able to edit the text in the document. Here is the file if you want to take a look.
On the home button, there is a big fat Scan button. If you have a TWAIN-compliant scanner, you can scan from right within PDF Transformer+.
If you have, for example, a Fujitsu ScanSnap which is not TWAIN compatible, not a problem. You can set up a ScanSnap Manager Profile to scan directly to PDF Transformer+, or you can use the ScanSnap Folder functionality to access the scanner.
I like PDF Transformer+ for working with PDFs on Windows. It is well designed, and from my testing seems fast and accurate. It is $79.99 USD, which is a heck of a lot less than Acrobat.
You can buy it directly from ABBYY, and if you use that link you’ll be buying me a samosa from my favourite place on 41st Avenue (thank you).