Review: Foxit Phantom PDF Suite 2.0

April 27, 2010 – 15:33 by in Reviews Print Share One Comment
Overview
Manufacturer: Foxit Software
Price (RRP): $129
Best Price: $129
Platforms: Windows XP, Windows Vista (32/ 64-bit), Windows 7 (32/ 64-bit)
Softwarecrew Rating:
 
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Foxit are perhaps best known for their compact PDF viewer, a speedy and lightweight alternative to Adobe Reader, but the company has plenty more to offer. Late last year they released Foxit Phantom PDF Suite, a versatile tool for creating, editing, comparing and organising PDF files. Powerful though it was, Foxit have continued working on the product, and the newly released Foxit Phantom 2.0 contains some welcome new additions.

As with the previous version, you’re able to create a PDF file from any application by using Foxit’s virtual printer driver (open the relevant document, print to the Foxit Printer and it’ll generate a PDF file for you). The program can also scan a document directly to PDF. And a Microsoft Word add-in lets you convert your current Word document to PDF in a couple of clicks.

New this time, though, is the option to batch convert multiple files to PDF. Drag in the files you need (Excel, Word, PowerPoint, plain text and many image formats are supported). Choose whether you’d like to convert each document into a separate PDF file, or merge them into one. Then click Convert and Phantom will generate the PDF files for you. And quickly, too – Foxit say Phantom is up to 3 times faster than the competition.

Page manipulations

If a document isn’t quite as you’d like then there are many ways to reorganise it at the page level.

The easiest way to do this is at Phantom’s thumbnail view, which shows your current page with thumbnails of other pages on the left-hand side. This makes it easy to jump straight to the page you need, but right-click one of the thumbnails and you’ll find many page manipulation options: you’re able to extract, replace, delete, swap, duplicate and move pages, usually in a couple of clicks.

If you just want to rearrange page order, though, you can now do it by simply dragging and dropping the page thumbnails around. This works well and gives you immediate visual feedback of the new file, although of course the usefulness of this depends on your document. (If it’s mostly just plain text and every page looks the same, then the thumbnails will, too.)

Another new feature sees you able to insert a blank page directly into a document, which can then be edited as you like. If you just need a title page, say, you can now create one directly without going back to the source document. Or if you have the page already, but in a printed form, then you can just insert it from your scanner.

And there are plenty of smaller additions that will help you work a little more quickly. Want to print a particular set of pages, for instance? No need to try and remember page numbers, just select the thumbnails you need, right-click one and select Print Pages: very convenient.

Editing options

As you’d expect, Phantom 2.0 includes plenty of tools to edit and correct objects within your document.

There’s an array of text options (highlight, underline, strikeout, replace, insert and more) to help you mark up and correct existing content, for instance. And a selection of typewriter tools lets you add more.

If you’re looking to comment on a document then the Note tool will come in useful. Enter a comment, and a yellow “note” icon will be left on the page. Drag and drop this to a particular point on the page, and it’ll be saved there. When others click the icon they’ll see your note.

You get a capable set of vector drawing tools: arrow, line, rectangle, oval, polygon, polyline, pencil and more. You’re able to customise details like line thickness, border style, colour, fill colour and even opacity.

There’s a comprehensive collection of stamps – “Approved”, “Completed”, “Confidential”, “Draft”, and so on – along with tools to create any others you might need.

And if you’re interested in creating documents that are more than just colourful text, then Phantom 2.0 has some advanced editing options that may appeal.

You’re able to embed just about any movie or audio file into your PDF document, for instance. Adding images only takes a moment (this version adds support for PNG and TIFF to the more common file types), and you also get the option to insert file attachments.

Most powerful of all is the Create Link option, though. This lets you add an object to the page, and define exactly what happens when it’s clicked: you can jump to a page or position in the document, open or execute a file, open a web page, import form data, submit a form, execute a JavaScript and more. It’s a versatile option that can help add a great deal of interactivity to your PDF files.

Welcome improvements

Phantom 2.0 is particularly good with interactive PDF forms. You’re able to design complex forms of your own, and create customised logic that defines exactly what people can enter. Information can then be saved in the file for collection and analysis later.

Security is strong, too. In a few clicks you’re able to password-protect a document, encrypt it, or add restrictions like preventing users from printing your work. But there’s also the option to secure a document using digital certificates, which adds more granularity as each certificate can have its own permissions. So, for instance, you could allow some users to simply view your document, while a super-user also gets permission to edit text and delete pages.

If there was a problem with Phantom 1.0, it’s that it delivered high-end features while ignoring a few of the basics, but it’s good to see Foxit rectifying that in this version with some welcome improvements.

Opening the Document Properties dialog now provides easy access to metadata like its title, subject, author, keywords and more. The Properties “Initial View” tab configures exactly how your document will be displayed when it first loads: the navigation method, the opening page, default zoom and more. And if you make a mistake while editing then you’ll now find the Undo option where you’d expect it, on the Edit menu, where you can now undo and redo up to 10,000 actions.

Verdict:
Foxit Phantom 2.0 is a success on all levels. It's packed with advanced editing features; includes many new ways to improve your productivity; and addresses small usability and functionality issues with the previous version. Factor in the reasonable price, and it's clear: if you're looking for an advanced PDF editing and creation tool, then check out Foxit Phantom PDF Suite 2.0 first.
We Like:
A wide range of editing tools, strong multimedia support, batch conversion to PDF, drag-and-drop reordering of pages, Microsoft Word add-in, lots of security features, very fast and accurate PDF file creation
We Don't Like:
No Excel or PowerPoint add-ins, only limited context-sensitive help
Softwarecrew Rating:
 

One Comment »

  • Richard Shipp says:

    This is the best review I have found on the Internet: plain English, logical presentation, good depth, points of interest, not too short. Thanks. It is a very, very helpful review. Well done.