For better or worse the PDF format seems to have become the de facto standard in digital documents. Generally, when I just want to view or quickly bang-out a form on a PDF, the KDE Plasma default Okular works just fine. The problem I have run into is with US government forms that have a XFA extension. Outside of that Okular is very capable. Features:
- It has several supported formats: PDF, PS, Tiff, CHM, DjVu, Images, DVI, XPS, ODT, Fiction Book, Comic Book, Plucker, EPub, Fax
- Thumbnails sidebar
- Annotations support
In my search for not running a Windows VM to fill out an XFA encumbered form, I have recently stumbled upon a solution that is working really well for me.
Master PDF Editor
This is a real good looking application by Code Industry. It has a very easy to use, familiar feeling, User Interface. The application seems to be efficiently written as it literally pops right open as nice and quick as you would get from Okular. If you load it from menu or krunner, you are greeted with a friendly start page. I greatly appreciate that this is a Qt 5 application as it looks good with the rest of my dark themed desktop.
It is mighty wonderful that the company lets you use it for free. It is a feature reduced version but allows you the opportunity to use it at no cost. For openSUSE Leap and Tumbleweed, I selected the CentOS/Redhat 7.x + version is it built on Qt5. Download the RPM and install it as you would any other sand alone package.
Personally, I like the zypper terminal method:
zypper in ~/Downloads/master-pdf-editor-4.3.89_qt5.x86_64.rpm
Alternatively, right-click Open with Discover or Open with Install/Remove Software works well too.
What is wrong with the default PDF options?
The main reason for my search for a different PDF reader was for the XFA extension that seems to be popular in government use on Forms. Even the built-in reader on Firefox and Chrome give me this little gem of an error.
For a specific part-time job of mine, I need to be able to interact with PDFs properly and I would really prefer not to start up a Windows VM just to type out a few things in Adobe Reader. I would just install Adobe Reader but it is too old and unmaintained in Linux so it is hit but mostly miss if it will actually work not to mention the weird system tray icon it leaves me that requires me to kill the process to get rid of it.
If you like Master PDF Editor, it is not an expensive application to fork over some cash towards. My determination for whether or not I was going to commit to purchasing it was how stable it was and did it have all the features I wanted. While I can get by on using Okular for most things, there is something to be said for a more “feature complete” application like Master PDF Editor. Also, I have no problem paying for commercial Linux software. If it does it’s job, I am more than happy to pay for it.
Another handy feature in this application is the ability to digitally sign documents from a .pfx/.p12 certificate. Creating one may be a bit of a challenge but it is a nice feature to have.
Although it is not a feature I use regularly, having Optical Character Recognition (OCR) is great to have when you do need it. I tested it out and it is very good. Not 100% but close enough to be incredibly useful. English was installed by default on mine and I have 70 other language options available if I so choose. Another neat feature is the ability to go manually go through the OCR process to ensure correctness.
Since I manage all of my documents, not in a physical filing cabinet but by a digital one, I need to be able to organize and combine different PDF Documents. My method of storage isn’t anything fancy, just a folder of records that is divided in a way that makes most sense to me. I often have to combine or remove pages out of a collection pages and this software makes it easy to complete.
A lesser needed but nice to have feature is the ability to create your own fallible, PDF documents. If you have used other form creators, you won’t find this foreign at all. It has the features I have used before but form creation is not my one of my strong suits. That is an art, in of itself that I do not posses the skill or patience to craft beautifully.
Features I use regularly
Adding and removing PDF pages from a file and save them for archival purposes. Something I cannot do from Okular easily. Since I try to minimize the amount of physical documents that I keep down to only the “must be original” documents. I scan and store the rest. You may ask, how often do I review these documents? ANSWER: More of then than I would like to admit. Also, do you know how liberating it is to not have a full 4 drawer filing cabinet?
Secondly, I use this program with any PDF documents that have the XFA extension. This is also a “feature” that keeps me using PDFs more than I would like. There is a continent “Click to Highlight Fields” in the upper right-hand corner of the application window and away you can go filling these things out.
I very happily forked over the cash to be able to do the work I want to do in Linux. I also want to be able to support the developers and make Linux a viable platform to target. I hate hearing from commercial vendors in my field of work that they just don’t have the demand to develop on Linux. Code Industry is taking a risk by developing for Linux and I certainly don’t want them to give up and say there is no market for Linux Desktop.
If you would like to give Master PDF Editor a try, there is a free no obligation version that you can try out. Download the free version of Master PDF Editor and see what you think of it. Even though I don’t need the paid features on this software, I want to support the developer so I kicked them the cash for the registered version. I hope they continue to develop and improve this product. It’s already great and I am hoping it becomes even greater.