With PDF publishing now an option in a lot of applications, specialist PDF tools have to work much harder to get attention. In the case of gDoc Fusion from Global Graphics that means not only being able to convert just about any document under the sun, but combine content from different documents into a single PDF, select and re-order pages and a whole lot more.
To run gDoc Fusion all you need is a Windows PC, with support for 32-bit and 64-bit versions from XP onwards. Setup takes just a few minutes, including installation of add-ins for Microsoft Office to enable documents to be converted directly from Word, Excel and PowerPoint.
A simple and intuitive drag-and-drop interface is used throughout, which we found very easy to get to grips with. For example, by simply dragging a document onto the Page View it was automatically converted to a PDF and opened for viewing and annotation. Likewise, by dropping multiple documents onto the Assembly View we were able to see all of the content on screen, then re-order and combine the pages we wanted by dragging from one to another.
The range of formats that can be handled is amazing, with some 200 on the gDoc list. Naturally all of the Microsoft Office formats are there, and those used by open source applications plus many long since retired, such as old versions of WordPerfect and Lotus 1-2-3. We tried as many as we could and, apart from the odd glitch here and there, they all worked, with formatting and content remarkably well preserved. The best results, however, came when Office was available, gDoc using the Microsoft apps to open and “print” Office documents to PDF rather than use the built-in converter.
Documents being merged can be in a mix of formats which meant we were able to combine pages from Word documents with spreadsheets, add presentation slides and include existing PDFs. Likewise, there’s a choice when saving the results, either as PDF or the Microsoft equivalent (XPS), with a third option of exporting to a Word document, if needed.
We found the ability to view documents even when you don’t have the original program to be really useful. Likewise the ability to perform basic editing tasks with tools, for example, to add bookmarks, highlight and change text and (the MP’s favourite) redact, or black out, sections. We can also see lots of practical uses for the document assembler, especially in large companies and service organisations needing to collate and process documents from multiple sources.
Lastly, you also get a degree of control over the structure of PDFs produced which you don’t get when saving to PDF from other apps. Not a huge amount, but enough for most users, with gDoc Fusion coming somewhere between Acrobat Reader and the full Adobe Acrobat application in this respect.
Of course there were things we didn’t like, such as Flick View, used to scroll through pages in much the same way as cover-flow albums in iTunes. Added to which, although gDoc had no problems handling Office 2010 documents, plug-ins to work with the latest Office suite won’t be available until next year.
Plus it’s not cheap, even at the discounted £65 + VAT price available to students, making it a specialist rather than general purpose PDF tool. For users needing to convert and manage large numbers of documents in a mix of formats then it’s worth it, otherwise there are lots of other ways of creating PDFs for less.
Company: Global Graphics
Contact: 01954 283100