Boston, MA (PressExposure) November 04, 2009 -- When you are the standard, it is common to become comfortable, the popularity of your product trumping the necessity to introduce changes that are more than just negligible. However, popularity is commonly the result of the familiarity of your product taking priority over its reliability. In every industry, customers exhibit their tendency to remain with the standard out of habit, ignoring glaring flaws that become allowable in the face of the unknown.
One such example is Acrobat Reader, the de facto application used to read .PDF files. PDF ( Portable Document Format ) is the file format made by Adobe Systems for the exchange of documents. Independent of the common variables that are attendant to the compatibility of a file format ( software, hardware, and operating system ), PDF files are self-contained documents of a two-dimensional nature. Until just recently, Acrobat Reader - also made by Adobe Systems - was the the only application that one could use to view a PDF file. A little over a year ago, Adobe released the format as an open format, giving the opportunity to read the file with alternative solutions.
Acrobat Reader, like all favored applications that suffer with the previously mentioned complacency, has seen its evolution stunted by a dearth of attention given to performance. Though essentially used for just viewing files, its bloat is apparent, the application consuming roughly 30MB of space. While Acrobat Reader has features that still have not been adopted by competing software, there are a number of possible choices that offer its core functionality without the excess baggage.
One choice is Evince. Evince is notable for its simplicity, its name accompanied by a tagline that reads, "Simply a document viewer." Thats precisely what Evince is, its unassuming interface underscored by the speed that you'd naturally associate with what is nothing more than a document viewer. A neat addition to Evince is its "Presentation Mode," which handles a PDF as though it is a slideshow. In this mode, each page is treated as a slide. Originally written for use with Linux, there is a Windows version that offers the same features.
Another great alternative is SumatraPDF. For those that simply need to view and print PDF files, SumatraPDF does so without any of the lag one notices when using Acrobat Reader. While plain in appearance, not unlike Evince, its functionality is simple to glean from the simply navigable interface. With few buttons, you can take advantage of this particular tool for the functions that are most utilized by those viewing a PDF : open, page-jump, search. Though its functionality is limited to just the core tasks we associate with Acrobat Reader, it moves at an impressive speed, with a minimalistic design that spares you the unnecessary trimmings.
Lastly, there's Foxit Reader, an alternative that offers comparable features without the excesses of Acrobat Reader. Free and available for Windows, Foxit Reader is regarded by many to be the most satisfying choice for those who've sought a usable substitute for Acrobat Reader. One reason for its popularity is the impressive feature set : e-mail the PDF while viewing it, highlight part of the screen and save it as an image, and convert the PDF to text. Those features come with the free version, without any mention of what's included should you get the Foxit Reader Pro Pack. The main feature of the Pro Pack is the facility to edit your PDF files.
In the case of Acrobat Reader, this is but one of the many examples where you'll find that the most well liked software isn't always the best solution. Acrobat Reader is definitely no slouch, coming from the company that invented the PDF standard, but there's no way to deny that it can stand to dump lots of the weight that slows the current version down. Until that is done, the choices mentioned above should be more than sufficient to satisfy your wants where viewing PDF files are concerned.
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