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Thursday, 10 November 2016

Review of Able2Extract 10


I was recently given the opportunity to review a software called Able2Extract. “Hi,” said the e-mail, “would you like to have a look at our software?” I decided that I would give it a go, despite the busy schedule of late. To put things in context, I’m currently juggling between trying to be a good dad, a good husband, a kickass attorney, and a part-time student. Most of my evenings are spent entertaining the kids, and, if there is office work that needs attending to, then the latter. But of late my focus has been on my part-time studies, because you don’t often get opportunities to study.

I'm a Linux supporter

The main reason why I agreed to give it a spin was because it had a Linux version. Last year, I got a Windows laptop, but it was mainly for SPSS and SEM-PLS, and a bunch of other stuff that needed Windows. My old laptop, with its superior virus-free operating system (Linux!) seemed so much more appealing. Add to that the feeling that I was always never out of the woods, because of something that might break (it’s open source, after all), that always gave me a rush of excitement. But only because my Linux laptop works 99% of the time. Because if it did not work most of the time, I would have decided that it was not worth my time. So, to the great Linux pioneers like Linus Torvalds, and Mark Shuttleworth, I give my undying thanks.

That’s why companies that make commercial software for Linux also deserve applause, and support. For example, I purchased Xmind. It proved to be a capable mind-mapping software. I’ve also bought Linux-supported Steam games. Sunless Sea is one of my favourite games for whiling away afternoons (when I can spare them). Finally, I also bought VueScan, which was a better version of Xsane.

The Review

On with the review. Able2Extract is a commercial software, made by Inc. The software is available for Windows, Mac, and Linux. I downloaded the software “Able2Extract PDF Converter 10” from the website to give it a try. The website describes the software as “the leading edge PDF converter, creator and editor”. There was an advanced version which included OCR, but I didn’t download it.


When I first started the Able2Extract software I saw a blue screen with the EULA (end user licence agreement). Naturally, I had to accept the EULA to use the software.
On the next screen, I was asked to activate a licence. I activated the testing licence and got a fourteen day trial. (Without the testing licence, you will get a seven day trial.)

After that I started the software. The menu showed me that I could convert PDF files into many different formats: Excel, CSV, Word, Powerpoint, OpenOffice, HTML, AutoCAD, Text, and Images.

Trying it out: Test files #1 & #2

I proceeded to open one of my PDF files. I opened up an article (a very academic one) and tried out editing capabilities of the software. I managed to select text for editing, but found that I could only edit one line at a time. I found that editing a PDF file isn’t quite the same as editing a Word file. In the PDF file, the lines are not joined. Here are some images of me editing some text in a PDF file.

What fun!

And here I am, in another PDF file.

Some Embedded Font Problems

But since some fonts are “embedded” into the PDF file, it seems that certain characters may be excluded from the “embedded” font. This serves to prevent others from using the font without authorization, and also to reduce the size of the embedded font, thus reducing PDF size.

Test file #3

I tried the software with a third PDF file. I couldn’t help noticing the “ribbon” style icons which were inspired by Microsoft Office. However, the icons in this software was for “convert to file type”, i.e. to set the file type.

Again, with the new PDF, the editing was also line by line. It felt like I would need to spend time to “realign” the text after editing it. However, that did not stop me from having my fun in editing statistics:

Converting to HTML

When a PDF file is loaded up, the menu items for converting the file format become available. I decided to try the conversion to HTML. The results were quite respectable. But I wondered, why did it convert only one page? I could only see the front page of the PDF.

Converting to HTML

Generating background images

Front page. So far so good...

Front page, but at bottom. Something wrong?

Perhaps your experience might be different from mine. Or maybe it has something to do with my dislike of user manuals...

Able2Extract Printer Driver

I tinkered around with the software a bit more. I noticed that it installed a printer driver. It was supposed to generate PDF instead of printing to paper. Here’s my attempt to print an article featuring Melania Trump.

Unfortunately, I couldn’t find the generated PDF file. Perhaps there’s something wrong with my settings?

I tried to check with the PDF creation options. I couldn’t find where to put the default location for generated PDF files.

Save (selection) to OpenDocument - ODT and ODS

I decided to try some more conversion for PDF’s. I loaded a PDF file that I had created previously using Linux’s built-in “Save as PDF”. I found that the conversion options were not available until I had selected some text. After selecting some text, the conversion options lit up. I tried OpenOffice document and found myself saving it as “ODT” (Open Document Text).

Sadly, the ODT file only shows the text which I highlighted and converted.

I tried it with another PDF and converted some text into spreadsheet. It only worked for the text that I had selected.


I soldiered on....

It can move pages like PDFTK

I found that in its “Edit” mode, Able2Extract was able to delete, extract, move, resize, rotate, scale, or even insert from other PDF. This seemed to replicate what PDFTK could do, graphically.


At that, I thought that it would be nice for me to write a review now.

Here are my concluding thoughts.

The software has a good user interface and makes editing text in PDF files easy. But it is arguable, that we could use another software for this purpose, called Scribus. You can edit individual pages from PDF in Scribus to change the text, etc.

I think that its PDF page rearranging and editing capabilities is something that people are looking for. A PDF document may be in the wrong order. Thus, it may make sense for you to want to rearrange it. You might even want to delete a few pages. (Think of the PDF copies of magazines.)

You could use PDFTK from the command line, but do you like the command line in the first place? You might consider purchasing PDFTK Pro for such purposes, but PDFTK Pro is available on Windows XP, Vista, Windows 7 and Windows 8 only. No Linux version available.

Able2Extract is now in its 10th Edition. I think that it is a great software with potential, but a few bugs like not being able to find PDF files generated its “driver” indicate that it needs a little bit more work.

Or perhaps it’s just my old computer. It’s a Fujitsu laptop with an Intel Centrino, 2 GB of RAM and a sticker that says “Windows Vista Basic”.

Thanks for Reading!

Here are some other pieces from me.