View Full Version : Adobe Acrobat (PDF) Alternative

03-10-2007, 10:04 AM
I won't go into all of the details, but my workplace will not provide me with Adobe Acrobat Pro and will not let me install my personal copy of the software on my work pc (what can I say - this is another example of stupid government rules - especially since I'd only use Adobe only for work, what other reason would I use It????). Sorry for the rant.
My IT Unit will only provide me with Scansoft pdf writer or creator (whatever). Are there any good alternative software programs that would allow me to create and edit pdf files? A shareware program would be the best because the IT Unit would have a hard time denying me from installing it on my work pc.

03-10-2007, 10:32 AM
Foxit Reader for U3
Read a PDF file, annotate it, fill out a form, print it, save it or convert it into text with this small and fast software.
Don't you have a U3 flash drive?

Foxit Reader 2.0 is a free PDF document viewer and printer, with incredible small size (only 1.5 M download size), breezing-fast launch speed and amazingly rich feature set. Foxit Reader 2.0 supports Windows 98/Me/2000/XP/2003. Its core function is compatible with PDF Standard 1.6.

03-10-2007, 10:37 AM
Can I edit pdf files with Foxit and save them to be read by others using Adobe Reader or Acrobat? I may end up purchasing Adobe Acrobat 8 Pro Academic. Are there any pitfalls with the Academic version?

03-10-2007, 11:10 AM
John I don't believe the Academic version would be any different than any other for activation purposes, and I have never found any other program that didn't make me crazy.
I believe the rule of thumb is 1 license per pc, however there are always a certain number of activations allowed with a product to allow for reformats etc and I would bet there are at least 5 possible to use. I have the 8.0 academic version on my Vista machine and I have yet to install it elsewhere because I am waiting for long awaited Vista free upgrade finally shipped by Ms this week.

03-10-2007, 12:49 PM
Whats wrong with scansoft? Personally I intergrate my PDF creators into the print system. Anything that can print can make a PDF

03-10-2007, 01:08 PM

While I can feel your pain - the work computer is THEIR computer not YOURS. And as such their dictates are what THEY want to support not what every Tom, Dick, or Harry feels they can download and install.

IF it is so important that you need Adobe Pro, why not go ahead and buy it load it on YOUR PERSONAL computer, make the PDF files you want, save them to an external drive/USB thumb drive, and copy the finished product to their notebook?

Sorry, but I feel your rant is baseless. You didn't buy the notebook, the software on the notebook, or have to support only that one notebook. The IT department is responsible for ALL the notebooks purchased for the department(s). They have a directive that must be approved up the channels and when ONE person becomes a "cowboy" with THEIR equipment, they would be within their rights to discipline, dismiss, or "fine" the user - as I feel it should definitely be.

When you build your system, you can put everything on it to your hearts content - it will be YOUR computer (bought, built, and loaded YOUR way!).

03-10-2007, 02:11 PM
Dan, I agree with you and understand their point of view. However, the IT Unit used to provide Adobe and support it. Then, they got stingy with the number of licenses due to the cost and switched over to Scansoft. I don't fully understand their logic in not allowing me to load my own personal licenses version of Adobe since I'd only use it for work. I'm proficient with Adobe so it's a win/win for both of us. They get more productivity and I use the software I am familiar with. I know this causes them some issues, but the real solution would be for IT to purchase a certain number of Adobe licenses. I could go on and on about the IT Unit, but I'll spare you. IT should be more customer oriented and serve the users in the department. They don't tend to perform this function and be customer oriented for many reasons that I won't bore you with.

03-10-2007, 02:14 PM
Whats wrong with scansoft? Personally I intergrate my PDF creators into the print system. Anything that can print can make a PDF

Tortanick, you may be right and I have to be honest and give Scansoft a try. The IT Unit was supposed to push Scansoft to my pc, but hasn't gotten around to it yet. I will try out Scansoft and see how it performs. Who knows, maybe it will serve my needs and allow me to edit/create pdf documents. If so, this will solve the entire issue.

03-10-2007, 04:03 PM

What about my second paragraph? Since you were going to buy the software (it seems) but instead of loading it on the notebook, you could load it on your personal computer and make the changes you want to the pdf files and just move the updated and saved pdf's over to an external drive or USB thumb drive and back up to your notebook.

03-10-2007, 04:20 PM
Dan, I agree with you and understand their point of view. However, the IT Unit used to provide Adobe and support it. Then, they got stingy with the number of licenses due to the cost and switched over to Scansoft. I don't fully understand their logic in not allowing me to load my own personal licenses version of Adobe since I'd only use it for work.

I'd guess their logic is something like this.

Individual control over computers will spread from the computant users, to the incomputant, cue the support nightmare.

Dan, if I had to work with PDF's regularly that would drive me nuts.

03-10-2007, 06:10 PM
Tortanick, I don't think there are many people that even want or have a need for Adobe Acrobat at work. The number would have to be in the 50 to 100 range. I know the IT Unit has responsibilities and a hard job, but they don't tend to know what the users (customers) need. They don't ask or seem to care. IT always gives you the impression they know better than you. And honestly, I feel like many of the advanced users in our workplace know more than the average IT worker.
Dan, switching the files to my home pc or laptop for editing - and then putting them on a usb drive doesn't help me much. I get files via email and have a need to create form fields on them or edit them on the fly. I don't want to take the stuff home with me that often and 'work' at home.

03-10-2007, 07:36 PM
i use foxit, it is just quicker in opening stuff, and loaded to a usb key reads pdf files even if it isn't installed to the computer, I use it during the thirty minutes free time one is given in the library(not my computer and no point in installing it each time), there are many stand alone tools that one can load onto a key thss way, foxit is one, system specs is another, but I dyegress, but stand alone stuff is useful for times likes these you mention

03-10-2007, 11:12 PM
The more I find out about Adobe wannabes the more I begin to think there isn't a real good alternative for Acrobat at all. Most of the other programs seem to only offer some of Acrobat's functionality and don't come close to matching the power of Acrobat. Looks like I'll try Scansoft and give Acrobat Academic version a try if it doesn't work for me.

03-11-2007, 12:31 AM
John I could not agree more. Acrobat is expensive, but it is also a better program, and that's why.

03-11-2007, 05:14 AM
jcampi, if 100 people install acrobat to their work PC, another 100 will ask to install open office, and another group will want to install a nice set of fonts. Eventually it will spread and the IT department will be responsible for looking after the resulting mess.

IT always gives you the impression they know better than you.

If you spend all day babysitting users who know nothing about computers, thats bound to happen.

And honestly, I feel like many of the advanced users in our workplace know more than the average IT worker.

That's quite possible, their strict policies will make managing the IT much easier, but it prevents them thinking outside the box. Besides if computers are you're job, rather than you're hobby you're not going to spend hours reading about the latest applications.

As for foxit, I think thats a replacement for reader, not writer. or at least thats how I use it and its great.

03-11-2007, 07:25 AM
the trick is to find ways around paying, not meaning piracy but more alternatives, the trouble with programs one buys is usually that the upgrade means buying it again so the cost to oneself or ones company is recurring in that if one adds up the total cost of those things recommended for XP like the system, officeworks, protection, ones broadband and adrobe as a base the cost is not going to settle down, the question for me then is to find ways of getting more for less, I have never made a pdf. file always using other formats for text but I use foxit for reading pdf fies, making pdf.files extends the problem to those people who have to work with it, using the free alternative is better,

03-11-2007, 10:18 AM
I really understand all of your points and agree that the IT Unit has to have restrictions and a policy. Like Rich M says, Adobe seems to be the best out there. My only issue with the IT Unit is they should have some degree of flexibility. I'll give Scansoft a try and my solution might be to install Adobe Acrobat Pro to my usb drive. After all, IT stated I can't have personal software on my PC. They didn't say I can't have Adobe (or personal software) on my usb drive.

03-11-2007, 10:40 AM
For flexibility, I'd assume they never considered anyone buying the software themselves, so they never wrote any flexibility into the policy.

03-11-2007, 10:54 AM
Tortanick, that is the part that floors me. I'm willing to buy the software myself. How many people in my workplace would do that? I'm guessing - not many (if any). I'm also not asking for ANY support from IT on the use of Adobe. I just guess they feel a need to monitor the computers and have a zero tolerance rule on use of personal software. After all, I got into this mess by them scanning my pc over the network and finding my copy of Adobe on the pc. I may just install Adobe to my usb drive and be done with this issue. However, I'll have to be carefull and not leave the usb drive in installed or it could be scanned by IT and cause me more issue.

03-11-2007, 11:38 AM
Tortanick, that is the part that floors me. I'm willing to buy the software myself. How many people in my workplace would do that?

Not many but it sets a bad precedent if they let anyone past the policy for any reason. Thin end of the wedge.

03-11-2007, 12:00 PM
You may be riding a fine line on this one...
Before doing any of the above, I would review (in detail) all company policy relating to computer and network use and associated penalties for violations. Many of these are "Firing Offense" personnel policies where pushing the issue could buy you a one way ticket out the door!
With the many companies now banning USB and other 'portable media' to prevent data theft, check closely into that as well.

If the alternative software they offer is not adequate to accomplish the job, memo the boss (in detail) why you can not do that job with the software provided and give advance notice not to expect the same results in the future. Include all steps taken to resolve the problem with IT and their response.
It is up to the boss to provide you with the necessary tools and if the boss wants Adobe... the boss will go to the IT boss and get Adobe. If not ... "Not my problem!"
Only high level management can bend a firmly entrenched IT department that shields itself well from employee interference! That chain sometimes goes all the way up to VP level where it takes somebody with a big hammer to say "Make it so!"

I have seen the "computer policy" used as a tool to rapidly dump an employee somebody wanted gone with no other grounds for dismissal. (And with the right IT tools ... simply visiting a "prohibited web site" was all they needed)
On the other hand, I have seen a cranky IT department suddenly jump to light speed when the snowball rolled down the hill on top of them.
Play the game smart and don't go head to head with IT.
Transfer the problem to a boss and then sit back and enjoy when IT has to squirm.

03-11-2007, 01:47 PM
I don't think adobe will work from a USB key like foxit will but perhaps I am out of date

03-11-2007, 04:19 PM
Agree 100% with Doug. Be tactical not emotional.


03-11-2007, 05:24 PM
I disagree, you can't play politics, who will the boss think knows more about computers? you or the IT department? You must fight computer guys with computers, overtake their network, ensure that the IT infustructure will be faster and more reliable, then request that the boss transfers you to the head of IT. Afterwords change the policy.

And remember, somewhere someone is getting ready to do it to you, be carefull.

03-11-2007, 05:59 PM
I think I agree with dbarrow on this one, Tortanick. Maybe you want me to be fired after some of the debates we've had! I really need to give Scansoft a try and if it doesn't suit my needs I'll take the next step and see it IT will allow me to install a legal version of Adobe Acrobat on my pc. I'd provide the software so I'm not asking IT to buy it. I forgot to mention - many people in the Department are using Adobe Acrobat Pro 6. They initially received emails to justify their use of Adobe and can keep it until notified otherwise. This does great crazy, but after all - it's government (it doesn't have to make sense). I just need to watch my back right now and not add to any more tension between the IT Unit and myself.

Terry Hanushek
03-11-2007, 05:59 PM

I don't fully understand their logic in not allowing me to load my own personal licenses version of Adobe since I'd only use it for work.
IT departments are normally responsible for software license compliance including the number of copies installed on the corporate computers. If the number of permitted copies is maxed out and there are one (or more) personal copies installed, a network scan will show a violation. With some amount of effort, the extra copy could be traced to an individual and the company would be put in the position of vouching for the legitimacy of the individual's copy. This type of situation multiplied by the number if individuals wanting to use their own software can be a major effort for the IT department and is one of the major reason's for the 'no outside software policies.

I completely agree with Doug and Elliott's comments.


03-11-2007, 06:06 PM
I think I agree with dbarrow on this one, Tortanick. Maybe you want me to be fired after some of the debates we've had!

Fired? jcampi, when someone is having some bizzare mad computer scientist fantasy its polite not to expose them to reality ;)

For the record I don't want you to be fired. I spent the whole post imagining a mas scientist crying "FOOLS, I'll CRUSH THEM ALL!" :D You can generally tell I'm not being serious when whatever I say is totally, and obviously, ridiculous. but that's generally, not always.

03-11-2007, 06:28 PM
rule of thumb play dumb, but carefully think out the way you are watched and use it to your advantage but I won't say more on this but fooling big brother is an interesting topic.

03-11-2007, 06:45 PM
Intresting theory flea. Personally I just act natural, I.E. quite weird, and thus I can do a lot more than most people without anyone thinking "what's up with him", its normal for me.

03-11-2007, 11:53 PM
Flea, you are right. IT found my personal version of Adobe on my laptop by completing a scan. Since then, IT most likely will be scanning my pc again and again. The funny thing is - IT has approved me using my personal Palm and the related software. I use it to sync with Groupwise and my calendar.

03-12-2007, 08:07 AM
thks, I have not looked at stand alone stuff recently but some of the tools are cool and traceless. Also, if you worry about their system why not boot onto the cd with linux and have your data on a USB key hopefully you will still get the internet connection but the problem with this idea is that they will see that it isn't windows while you are using it, interesting to see if one could tweak linux into looking like windows to fool them.

anyways, if it gets too much, keep the thoughts in your head, I don't think they have got that far yet, but form what we see of those youtube steams about getting monkeys to move object on a computer screen with just thought and electrodes....

I think Oscar Wilde said something like there was nothing more difficult than acting naturally.

03-12-2007, 11:29 AM
Terry has it right...
The IT department is responsible to maintain the LICENSE for all software on the system and are the ones who have to be able to produce it for any audit.
Companies have gone belly up from the results of a software audit so it's no small matter.
They are expected to strictly enforce a "no personal software" policy ... usually considered one of the "Firing Offenses" in personnel policies and one that WILL stick!
Especially dealing with anything GOVT where it will likely take you a week just to read the policy manual!

With all the crap going on about data leakage and theft...
I would be extremely careful about having ANYTHING on THEIR machine not specifically approved and sanctioned!
Since you are talking GOVT ... you could be talking JAIL TIME let alone fired!
BTW: I work with a part timer who works full time at Lockheed in a section where mere possession of a CD or USB stick will result in an immediate trip to the local FBI Office and a pink slip on the way out the door!

Can't turn in my report in PDF? NOT MY PROBLEM!

03-12-2007, 06:34 PM
Oh, boy. This gets even better. Today I was able to load Adobe Acrobat Pro 6 on a usb drive. It worked fine and performed well. However, somehow the installation of Adobe Acrobat Pro 6 caused a Visual Basic error with Excel and Word 2003. IT helped diagnose the problem and removed Adobe. I was able to install Scansoft PDF Creator Pro and it seems ok. Now I'm official and don't have anything personal on the pc. I just know IT wasn't happy to find Adobe on my pc - again.

03-12-2007, 10:21 PM

You can rest assured you have committed STRIKE TWO (found Adobe on your system AGAIN).

I don't know why many here think my words about PERSONAL software, utilities, antiviruses, etc., on COMPANY computers is just my being hard headed. I am faced daily with "smart" users who have installed software that was not delivered on the computers, was not in the specs of their work load, and now is making it difficult to do their job AND IT IS MY FAULT!

I spend hours, if not days, analyzing what software NEEDS to be installed to not conflict with CAD programs, high end accounting software, database programs, and proprietary software of many businesses. I CONSULT with these business owners and even spec with the software techs to assure the business can operate with what it needs to be profitable.

Most software techs act like their's is the ONLY software running on a computer! So it is a fine line to associate a proprietary software package, a required business accounting package, and a contact management software on these machines - ONLY TO HAVE THE USER DOWNLOAD MUSIC!

So, John, while you may be upset with the IT department, may think they are far from thinking outside the box, and are only protecting their jobs - let me assure you that is most assuredly NOT the case. Whether it is government, corporate, or charitable - ALL these organizations HAVE to have a model that works for EVERYONE in the whole. Yes, there are going to be an exception here and there but the IT department HAS to have a regiment of where a deviation of software can exist and documented.

As Doug stated - license, license, license AUDIT! I remember several years ago Budget car rental was fined $400,000.00 just because there was software on some of the office machines that people had brought in from home to put on their company computers because THEY WANTED SOMETHING THE COMPANY DID NOT WANT TO BUY - but they were willing to do so. The problem was that the IT did not have license documentation for those "personal" programs SO they were deemed PIRATED and the company fined.

John, my suggestion is to follow the company (ok goverment) line of command.
(1) Document the times you need to edit email forms - time, sender, requirement.
(2) Inform your supervisor, boss, lead person that you are doing this documentation. No one likes a back stabbing AND they can be an ally if you are not confrontational.
(3) Most places have a "quality improvement" process - check with your HR department for a similar program. These are usually ways to identify a problem, map current company policy (note this is company policy NOT your problem - think flowchart), and where the company policy defiates or your process deviates from the expected work performance criteria.

In following these steps, you are not stepping on any IT department toes, you are not going behind your boss's back, and you may actually invoke a change in policy for more than just your needs. After all, IF you are expected to generate responses to forms that require Adobe Pro, there is most likely others (and you will identify them in your flowcharting).

Will this require "home" work - yes! Will this be fruitful - maybe! It WILL give you an experience that will be VERY rewarding! I KNOW because in my last 5 years with the power company - I was heavily involved with just this process! It is a time in my working career I would relive in a heartbeat!

03-13-2007, 05:13 PM
After my many mistakes with Adobe I just want to be low keyed now and not raise any more issues with the IT Unit. I'll learn to get by with Scansoft PDF Creator Pro. It doesn't matter to me that scores of staff have Adobe Acrobat on their computers and have justified keeping it with the IT Unit. I'm beyond that now. I plan on getting a new laptop real soon. I'll install Adobe Acrobat on the laptop and edit on the laptop (as you suggested in previous posts). It just does get to me sometimes. Software shouldn't be selected by the IT Unit based on what is the least expensive. I'd venture to say that GroupWise and Scansoft PDF Creator Pro are much cheaper than Microsoft Outlook and Adobe Acrobat - but they are not anywhere as good as product.

03-13-2007, 05:27 PM
Matter of opinion...I think Microsfoft should pay users to put up with Outlook rather than charge for the program!

03-13-2007, 06:12 PM
John you are still dancing around the fire.
Will the new laptop be your personal property or a company machine?
What is their policy on connecting outside (privately owned) equipment to their network or system?

Volume licensing still isn't cheap and the fact that other employees have it does not mean they have unlimited licenses (copies) to hand out.

03-13-2007, 06:25 PM
The new laptop will be my personal property. I will not connect it to the company network. Other employees have 'their own' copy of Adobe, but IT merely asked them to justify having it. When you have your pc replaced with a new one (Dell Opliplex with P4HT, what junk) you don't have rights to have Adobe Acrobat any more. If you absolutely need a pdf writer you can get Scansoft PDF Creator Pro.
I accept everything IT has provided me at this point. If I need something that IT can't provide I'll have it on my personal laptop. I don't want to continue this issue with IT at all. I just want to do my job and use the tools they provide.

03-13-2007, 07:01 PM

I can relate to your "defeated" state. In my MANY years with the power company I spent many a night cursing some "idiot" decision a supervisor or manager made UNTIL I walked a mile in their shoes.

Like I said, I would LOVE to have the qc experience I had the last five years in a heartbeat! It was the most challenging and yet rewarding tenure I had with the company.

As for GroupWise - it is FAR from cheap. And while it doesn't mirror Exchange, it has a proven track record of being able to contain more data in it's architecture than Exchange (even the 2007 version). Exchange (which is what you would be using as your mail store) gets bogged down once it gets above 4 or 5 gb. I have an attorney client that has 3 TIMES that amount in their GW store - attorneys keep EVERYTHING and there is no way Exchange could function for them.

Unfortunately, I have to now gear up for migrating GroupWise over to Windows GW BEFORE the client needs to replace the current server (in about 3 or 4 years - so I have plenty of time to crash MY server LOL).

Good luck on your Notebook acquistion - I am loving my new HP / XP Pro one.

03-13-2007, 11:45 PM
Dan, thanks so much for all of the advice and suggestions. Most of my issue with IT has been out of frustration. Everything is working for me right now and I'll live with their requirements. I haven't really used Scansoft pdf creator much yet so I don't know how it will compare with Adobe Acrobat. Like I said, I'll just load Adobe on the laptop and use it if needed. I can put up with all of the other software. I brought all this on myself. Now I'm paranoid at IT scanning my pc every night. I actually shut down the pc to keep them from scanning the pc at night. If they have to scan or monitor it they can do it during the day.