A few months back, I posted an article detailing some of the software tools that I use to provide support for PDFs in my office. My goal was to avoid shelling out big bucks for the expensive, bloated, and buggy packages from Adobe. Turns out that many of you have had similar problems with Acrobat, because the comments on that post are filled with suggestions of programs that you guys have found useful as Adobe replacements.

This time, I’m going to introduce you to a program that I learned about while going through the responses to that original post. TechRepublic reader Lost4now suggested that I take a look at his program of choice, PDFill. I’ll be honest; I haven’t paid for the full version of PDFill Editor, because the free tools that the developers offer have met my needs so well.

That’s right. I said “free tools.” The developers of PDFill have packaged their simple PDF manipulation applications together with a PDF print driver and offer these tools to Windows users, absolutely free — even for corporate clients. That caught my attention.

The PDFill PDF Tools are a scalpel because while they don’t offer a lot of frills, they perform their function with surgical precision. The free Ghostscript package is required for PDFill to work, and that’s basically because the PDFill PDF Tools interface is a simple button-based GUI front-end to the powerful Ghostscript engine.

“Why do I need the PDFill Tools if I can use Ghostscript?” you ask. I don’t know about you, but I have better things I can be doing with my time than supporting the intricacies of Ghostscript’s command-line interface. The PDFill Tools streamline my users’ workflow by putting the power of Ghostscript right at their fingertips, in a clear task-oriented way.

One thing that’s been a problem in my office has been supporting users who want to use graphics from our PDF publications in a PowerPoint slide show that they’re putting together. PDFill PDF Tools makes it trivial for anyone to grab a high-quality raster graphic from any of our PDFs and have it be completely compatible with PowerPoint. PDFill has proven its value in my department with just that single use case.

I love it when I can recommend a small, simple software scalpel; a tool that does one thing but does it better than anything else. PDFill PDF Tools is even better, because it does several things, and it’s completely free.

Thanks for pointing me toward PDFill, Lost4now. Anyone who wants to try the PDFill Tools can find an installer in the TechRepublic Software Downloads section or at the developer’s site. I highly recommend you check it out before you pay for Adobe Acrobat.