capsule review

Java-based PDF Studio 7.4 Pro has a non-standard user interface

At a Glance
  • Qoppa PDF Studio Pro 7.4

Qoppa’s PDF Studio 7 Pro is a Java-based PDF creation and manipulation tool that runs on Mac, Windows, and Linux computers. While it’s not particularly beautiful to look at and doesn’t conform to anything that would be considered standard Macintosh UI design, it does offer a useful collection of features that allow you to easily create and manipulate PDF files.

PDF Studio 7 Pro offers up a pretty standard set of PDF editing features. Using the app you can combine or split PDF documents, add annotations, text, images, sounds or even other files to your documents. A signature tool lets you create a digital signature that contains an SSL certificate, an image of your actual signature, and which can’t be applied to the document unless you provide a password. PDF Studio 7 Pro supports PDF bookmarks and allows you to easily add, move, or manipulate the bookmarks within the existing structure of the document. PDF Studio 7 Pro also has no problem handling PDF forms.

The application offers you the option of creating a PDF file from many different types of files. So, for example, if you want to create a PDF from a folder full of Word, jpeg, or text files, PDF Studio 7 Pro will create a new PDF file by merging all the files that you’ve selected. If you’re using an application that can’t create a file supported by PDF Studio 7 Pro, all you need to do to add it to your new document is use OS X’s print to PDF option to create a PDF from your original document and then you can add the resulting file to your new PDF document.

Too much information: While many of PDF Studio's features conform to Mac standards, some, like the program's Combine Files option, expose too much of the operating system's underlying folder structure.

When it comes to editing the actual content of the PDF, PDF Studio 7 Pro provides a somewhat inconsistent and oftentimes frustrating experience. Java-based applications typically provide a non-standard and very non-OSX-like experience. PDF Studio 7 Pro is no exception. Standard menu items you’re used to using such as Edit -> Undo, and Edit -> Paste don’t exist, although occasionally you’ll discover that you can use their command-key equivalents in some of the fields you use to enter text. In short, this means that if you make a mistake you’ve got no recourse but to use the Revert Document option to bring the document back to the state it was in at your last save point. Not a huge problem if you’ve developed the Command-S twitch I’ve developed over the years, but painful if you’ve spent any extended length of time editing a document without saving it.

What I found more disconcerting was how much of the OS’s hidden underlying folder and file structure PDF Studio 7 Pro revealed when you use some of the tools available for opening, combining, or inserting files into an existing document. For example, Choose File -> Create PDF -> From Multiple Files and a dialog window will open from which you can select the files that you want added to your new PDF file. Choose Add folder from that window and a new window will open revealing all of the folders found at the root of your hard drive. Not only is this likely to be confusing to most users it also offers the potential of OS corruption of a user were to accidentally or inadvertently change one of these hidden files.

Macworld’s buying advice

PDF Studio 7 Pro has the potential to be a pretty good PDF editing application, but it is hobbled by a non-standard interface that’s missing basic features and which reveals too much. Standard Undo options and a less revealing look at the Mac’s underlying file system would go a long way toward making this a great app. Until then, it’s best to look elsewhere for the tools you need to create and edit your PDF files.

[Jeffery Battersby is an Apple Certified Trainer, (very) small-time actor, and regular contributor to Macworld. He writes about Macs and more at his blog.]

At a Glance
  • Pros

    • Import/create PDFs from standard file types
    • Broad set of editing tools


    • Reveals too much of the underlying file system
    • No undo
    • Non-standard editing features
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