File Sharing/Publishing

LULU Software Provides Full PDF Capability in Cloud-Based Solution

21 Apr, 2017 By: Cadalyst Staff

With Soda PDF Anywhere, users can create, convert, and edit PDF documents, then digitally sign and send them — all from a browser.

The familiar PDF file format is far from new, but developers are seeking ways to teach an old dog new tricks. In March, LULU Software launched Soda PDF Anywhere, a desktop- and cloud-based application that enables users to access PDF features in a web browser from any Internet-connected device. With the new Soda E-Sign functionality, billed as a secure and legally binding way to sign and send documents, users can sign files via e-mail on any connected device.

James Dobrofsky, senior product manager, Soda PDF, explained to Cadalyst why the company calls its new offering "the first full-featured online PDF solution,” as it enters a market populated with various online options.

“While there is a plethora of PDF functionality available via web apps, all of them offer a small subset of features. Many websites focus on a singular PDF function (convert files to PDF, split files, etc.), while a few group a number of singular functions together. None of these offer a comprehensive PDF application in line with your typical desktop application (in look, feel, or functionality). Soda PDF Online is the only web app to offer the full suite of standard PDF functionality,” Dobrofsky observed.

“Soda Online’s Edit module in particular, is quite unique — we are the first to offer a full suite of PDF editing features online, including the ability to edit the text of a PDF in a browser. Adobe PDF Services for example, which is one of the more robust online offerings, does not offer any type of PDF editing features — in fact, it offers fraction of the number of features that Soda PDF Online provides.”

Online and Offline Options

“Soda PDF Anywhere is a two-pronged solution that encompasses both our Desktop and Web applications,” explained Dobrofsky. “A plan (subscription) gives users access to virtually all features on both platforms.”

The desktop component can be downloaded and used offline when Internet access is not available. The cloud component enables users to create, convert, edit, review, insert, secure, and sign PDFs on any combination of desktop, smartphone, or tablet devices, anywhere they have Internet access. Users can connect Soda PDF to their Dropbox, OneDrive, Google Drive, and/or Box accounts (below). 

“You can switch from app to app whenever you want, and as long as you use a virtual drive to transfer your files (or a USB stick or external hard drive), you can technically work off the same document using Desktop or Online on your various computers and devices (work, home, laptop, mobile phone, tablet, etc.) — hence, the genesis of using Soda PDF Anywhere as a brand,” Dobrofsky noted.

Managing Multiple Interfaces

Delivering a consistent experience for users moving between devices with different screen sizes and input types can be a challenge. “While most tablets offer the same UI as you would get from a desktop web browser, smartphones get the mobile-responsive UI which is optimized to offer a user experience tailored to smaller-screen handheld devices. The file menu and modes (View/Select/Edit) are offered in the ribbon bar, somewhat similar to what you would experience from a desktop — but most of the actual features are provided at the bottom of the screen to be in closer proximity to your thumbs to ensure an economy of movement to fulfill most tasks,” Dobrofsky continued.

“We are looking to further optimize our mobile responsive experience, but it’s a balancing act; we are trying to offer the full suite of functionality that Online provides but also try to ensure its an intuitive and easy-to-navigate user experience. Touch screen devices are supported, and the interface on mobile devices takes that into account. As for other input devices such as the stylus, they can be used to navigate the application just like the mouse or your fingers; we are definitely looking at how to better leverage these devices to service our business professionals and will address them in some upcoming updates.”

Popular Document Format

“PDF is by far the most popular document format on the web,” said Dobrofsky, pointing out that any business that works with PDF frequently and has a mobile workforce can benefit from using Soda PDF Anywhere. Those descriptors certainly apply to many CAD users within the AEC industry. “Soda can create PDFs from any CAD document and is a great vehicle to use for collaboration using our annotation features (includes markup, sticky notes, stamps, free-form drawing, arrows, and shapes, as well as the Measuring Tool to measure perimeters, areas, and distances). There are also tangential use cases where E-Sign can be used to easily get sign-offs on CAD designs.”

Soda PDF Anywhere is available in three rental plans ($48–$120 per year) or two perpetual license options ($79–$129); the latter offer access to the desktop app only. The E-Sign capability carries an extra cost ($20 for a 10-signature package or $60 per year for unlimited signatures). A 14-day free trial of Soda PDF Anywhere is available.

About the Author: Cadalyst Staff

Cadalyst Staff

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