Friday, May 06, 2005

Software Review: Foxit PDF Reader

Another software review! This time I've stumbled across something I never thought I would see - an alternative to the Adobe Acrobat Reader!

Foxit PDF Reader

This is a great alternative to the Adobe PDF Reader for one reason: it's FAST. The darn thing is tiny (only 1 MB! It would fit on a floppy!) and loads in about the time it took to glance at my watch to see how long it would take. My main problem with Adobe's reader has always been the time it takes to load up. I could make a root beer float with that much time. Not the case with Foxit - click, BAM, open.

It's not as pretty as Adobe, and I'm sure if I probed around in it more I'd find a few features that Adobe has missing in Foxit. Right now I'm just having too much fun in using it to get the e-scalpel. But for basic PDF reading (crack open an eBook, brush up on tech specs, etc.), Foxit is a clear and useful reader.

One more thing - Foxit uses a lot less resources than Adobe. I could never load Acrobat Reader on my laptop (old Pentium II, 233 MHz) from version 4.0 up. Anything newer and it just waggled its CD tray at me while playing a sound file called "Thhhbpt.wav." But Foxit starts up in no time on that old beast, and merrily tosses up whatever PDF I want to see.

So, new computers or old, fast or slow, Foxit PDF Reader makes viewing PDF files really easy, and a whole lot faster.

(For writers especially - no lookie if you're not! Well, I guess it's okay...)
There's one thing Foxit has that Adobe DOESN'T, and it's especially useful to writers and designers. On the main toolbar are three buttons - Actual Size, Fit to Page, and Fit Width. Why are these useful to writers & designers? It shrinks, stretches and tugs the PDF around your screen. Hold on, I'll get to the point eventually.

Many printers want their proofs or previews in PDF format, right? Industry standard and all. If you subject a PDF to a bunch of shrinking, stretching and tugging in Foxit, you can see if (and where) your document's formatting will change or break.

Whenever I write something in MS Word (I prefer WordPerfect and OpenOffice, though), I test it in a PDF reader to make sure there isn't any weird formatting element lurking, waiting to skew your text off some invisible margin. Foxit can give the document the e-equivalent of a stress test. It'll save you a lot of embarrassment, when a printer calls you and asks if your computer had a seizure while emailing that document!


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