Russ Harvey Consulting - Computer and Internet Services

Able2Extract Professional 12 Review

Reviewed on November 5, 2018

Installation | Converting PDFs | Editing PDFs | Conclusions | About

Able2Extract 12 software.

Able2Extract Professional 12 is described by Investintech.com on their ordering page as follows:

Get quick, accurate, transfer of native and image (scanned) PDFs into editable MS Word and formatted MS Excel spreadsheets for editing, analysis and other reversioning. Other conversions include PDF to PowerPoint (PPT), Publisher (PUB), AutoCAD, HTML and Text. As a full PDF solution, Able2Extract Professional can also create secure PDF files, edit PDF content, fill in PDF forms, edit and create fillable PDF forms, and insert Bates numbering to PDFs. Convert, create, and edit your way to PDF productivity!

Able2Extract's product page contains more details about features, benefits and case studies.

Cost & Licensing

The software is available as a seven-day free trial where you are limited to only 3 pages per extraction until you purchase a license. There are some other limitations, but you can fully evaluate the software before you commit to purchasing a license or subscription:

  • a full lifetime license costs $149.95 (the optional CD costs an additional $10.00); or
  • a 30-day subscription costs $34.95.

Both are electronic licenses. All prices are in US dollars (although support for local currency, at least for Canadian purchasers, is pending with the next release).

The use of this software is subject to its licence agreement which allows for non-concurrent use for a single user on a second computer like a home or work computer:

A single-Use license for the SOFTWARE PRODUCT may not be Used concurrently on different Computers, however, this agreement does allow a licensed user to install the SOFTWARE PRODUCT on both a work Computer and a home or laptop Computer, provided the SOFTWARE PRODUCT is not in use on both machines at the same time.

This allows you to run the software on a laptop when away from your main computer without having to purchase a second licence. This does NOT allow you to lend out the laptop while simultaneously using the desktop or other computer where the main copy of the software is running.

Windows, Mac & Linux Supported

Although the software is available for Windows, Mac or Linux installations, I chose to test primarily the Mac version of this software because I didn't already have a professional PDF solution for my Mac.

I did install the Windows version on my Windows 7 Pro desktop to compare it to Nitro Pro, my current Windows PDF software and did some comparative testing there as it is my main computer.

Unfortunately, Nitro Pro is not supported on Macs, so there is no comparison there.

Installation

The Able2Extract Pro installation was accomplished simply, and I appreciated the option to save the license in PDF format which made reading the document much easier. An option to print the license was also offered — useful for those that need to monitor license compliance within a workplace.

At the finish of the installation process, a welcome screen opened in the browser which provided useful information in getting started including a video tour, several links to resources and the link to purchase a license.

The welcome screen also provided links to the “free mobile apps” which opens a page showing smart phone and tablet apps including an invitation to download it on the Apple App Store and a demonstration of the Able2Extract iOS via screen captures.

The newer Able2Extract - PDF Converter with OCR iOS app costs CAD $13.99 (recommended if you need to regularly work with PDFs on your mobile devices).

There are two free mobile apps, but each has in-app purchases that provide instant access to the results (Able2Doc took over an hour to deliver a PDF conversion without a subscription):

  1. Able2Doc (a lifetime express subscription costs CAD $13.99); and
  2. Sonic PDF Creator (a lifetime express subscription costs CAD $6.99).

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Converting PDFs to Documents

As the name Able2Extract implies, this program is designed to extract information from PDFs and convert it into several formats including Excel, CSV, Word, PowerPoint, HTML, AutoCAD and image.

So much of our information is currently provided on PDFs because they retain the formatting across platforms and operating systems and this integrity is necessary in the commercial world as well as elsewhere.

Even so, it often is necessary to revise or update such documents. While editing of the original PDF is possible (more about that later) it can be easier to simply convert the document into the format you intend to use prior to editing or updates.

Converting to a Word Document

To test the conversion to Word, I chose to convert a PDF phone book that I knew had been generated from MS Word but otherwise didn't know anything else about its original format. The conversion process was quite simple:

  1. Open Able2Extract 12;
  2. click on the file-folder icon to open a document;

    Able2Extract file editing toolbar

  3. select what you want to convert (either an area or all);
  4. choose the converted document type you wish to convert the PDF to from icons on the toolbar (in this case, Word);

    Able2Extract conversion output toolbar

  5. then click on the Save button and choose a name and location for your converted files.

The program suggested a filename based upon the original PDF and the .docx extension. In additional tests I simply added a number to the filename to differentiate them, so I could compare change I made.

The Able2Extract 12 toolbar is shown in two sections in the illustrations above, but the program's actual toolbar is a continuous row of options in a single row.

Font Replacements

A notice appeared letting me know that the document was missing some fonts. Clicking “Show” brought up a list of four fonts that needed conversion on my Mac:

Able2Extract font replacement dialogue box

Calibri was the most challenging as it wasn't available on my Mac.

Replacing fonts is accomplished by clicking on the (Don't Replace) next to the original font listed then selecting its replacement (I chose Helvetica Neue Regular as the replacement for Calibri).

The other three fonts had Mac versions, so I chose those as replacements, then clicked on the Replace Fonts button at the bottom right to finish the process. Simple and intuitive.

My New Word Document

The resulting file opened flawlessly in Pages on my Mac, displaying only a minor issue with a coloured decorative yellow line overlaying the name on the top listing for each page.

When opened the document in LibreOffice 6, I noticed that the yellow line was displayed beneath the first line of text rather than sitting right on top of it (a much easier problem to fix). I removed the line then eliminated the existing space, then restored the line above the text.

Alternatively, removing the line altogether would have worked as well but would have resulting in a different formatting than the original document. I could also have used LibreOffice or Pages to restore a similar graphic feature using their built-in editing tools.

Other than that minor issue, I had a document that I was able to edit without any problems as though it were the original Word file.

Converting to an Excel Document

I don't use spreadsheets very often so the Excel document I chose was one in .xls format rather than .xlsx and was created by someone else using unknown software.

The process was pretty much the same as it was for the Word conversion except that Able2Extract offered the option to customize the conversion process:

Able2Extract 12 Excel conversion options

I chose to use to automatic process, not wanting to spend the time to alter the layout options.

The resulting file was in .xlsx format and contained a fairly accurate version of the original PDF but did not convert some of the coloured cells correctly. Given that the data itself was accurate and that the original format may not contain as much information as the newer .xlsx format I thought the process was done quite well.

Doing the same conversion with my Nitro Pro resulted in a better conversion of the coloured cells, but the data was not formatted correctly in some cases. The Able2Extract document was easier to work with when editing the data in the cells of the spreadsheet.

Perhaps my results would have been better if I customized the conversion, but I didn't want to spend the time and wanted to see how it would work for someone with limited experience with Excel.

Support for OpenOffice Formats

If you don't have Microsoft Office but use LibreOffice or OpenOffice, Able2Extract 12 supports extraction to the OpenOffice formats used by those programs.

Make the following changes to the Able2Extract conversion options:

  1. Open Able2Extract 12;
  2. click on View;
  3. click on Conversion Options (you'll see three tabs: General, Excel/CSV and Word);
    • on the General tab, choose OpenOffice Impress;
    • on the Excel/CSV tab, choose OpenOffice Calc;
    • on the Word tab, choose OpenOffice Writer;
    • click on the Save as Default button to save your choices, then OK to exit Conversion Options;
  4. click on the file-folder icon to open a document;
  5. select what you want to convert (either an area or all);
  6. choose the converted document type you wish to convert the PDF to from icons on the toolbar;
  7. then click on the Save button and choose a name and location for your converted files.

The Excel/CSV option with OpenOffice Calc selected is shown below, but the options on the other tabs are similar:

Able2Extract Excel/CSV conversion options

Now, your document will be saved in OpenOffice formats rather than in Microsoft Office formats.

You'll only need to make this change once, provided you made it the default option as indicated above. If you need to restore the Microsoft Office settings, return to the Conversion Options and click on the Restore Standard button.

Converting to an HTML Document

I chose to convert the PDF Reviewer's Guide provided by Investintech.com into HTML. For those that don't know, HTML is the basic building block of most websites and is essentially a markup language that works around the base content much like a Word document marks up text with bold and italics and adds images and other features, only it is designed to be viewed in a browser over the Internet. More about HTML here….

Just like with Word and Excel conversions, the file is opened, the area selected then the required output format is chosen (HTML in this case) and the file is created where you choose (the default is in the same folder as the original, but this can be changed).

Converting the Full Document

I first created an HTML file of the full document. Much like other conversion programs, the program creates a companion folder with the associated image files, mostly background images showing the page with the coloured footer but also including the associated image examples in place within the page.

The output was virtually a perfect copy of the original PDF (each line was rigidly placed using absolute positioning). While this displayed fine in a desktop or laptop screen, it would challenge those viewing it in a narrow screen like on a smart phone.

Today's Internet is increasingly dominated by a larger percentage of smaller devices, especially smart phones, and this static output which removes the flexibility required for today's users. More about these design considerations….

When displayed in a 320 x 480 pixels viewport the content is cropped on both sides in the portrait (default) view:

Able2Extract 12 HTML conversion cropped in smaller viewports

Using a tablet or the landscape (sideways) view on most smart phones, the content is fully visible, and all text content can be selected in either view. Unfortunately, any illustrations are embedded within the page background which may be an issue for some users wishing to extract this information for other purposes such as internal reports.

You could provide these images separately to users that require them (even extract them using Able2Extract 12) but I think it would be better to rethink the absolute control these techniques employ.

Selecting an Area

So far I've only used the full document as the choice for conversion. I thought I'd try the area selection and chose to capture the section of the document dealing with the system requirements, converting it to another HTML document.

First, open the original PDF document then select the area you want to convert with the PDF document. The remaining steps are the same: choose the output format then filename.

The HTML appears to be nearly perfect but suffers from the same limitations I noted with the absolute layout.

Overall, the process is so simple that the creation of a basically workable web copy of a PDF document could be generated by anyone with even a little computer competence.

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Creating and Editing PDFs

I've covered the extraction of content from a PDF document into various formats. However, another primary need within businesses is to be able to create and edit PDF documents directly.

Creating PDFs

Creating a PDF from an existing Word, Excel or other document is probably simpler than the reverse:

  1. Open Able2Extract 12;
  2. click on the Create icon;

    Able2Extract file editing toolbar

  3. navigate to the file you want to convert and click Open;
  4. Able2Extract 12 then processes the file, ending with your new PDF document in the working area of the software;
  5. then click on the Save button and choose a name and location for your converted file.

At this point you can either simply close the document or make any necessary edits such as adding or deleting content, including features like strikeout and watermarks. If you make changes, be sure to save the file again.

Editing PDFs

To edit a PDF, load the PDF into Able2Extract and click on the Edit button.

Thumbnails of the document appear on the left side and an editing menu appears on the right side where you can do extensive edits including changing fonts, redaction, or aligning text.

The capabilities are too extensive to list here, but I was able to do everything I needed with the PDF documents I worked with.

Some features may require users to think a bit differently than they do with a Word or Excel document, but comparing it to experience with other PDF editors like Adobe Acrobat and Nitro Pro, I found the process refreshingly simple and enjoyed features I'd not been able to use before like inserting vector shapes and drop caps into existing PDFs.

While it is probably not something you've thought about, the ability to redact sensitive information from documents before releasing them could be an essential task under certain circumstances.

New Features

Able2Extract 12 has added the following new features:

  • PDF form editing;
  • Bates numbering;
  • adding blank PDF pages
  • upgraded batch conversion
  • enhanced PDF text editing;
  • improved watermark annotation;
  • and improvements to PDF to Excel conversions.

While you may not need or ever use many of these features, they are necessary for many professional and corporate users in creating interactive forms as well as documents that can be tracked (using Bates numbering) and protected with a password. A watermark allows you to imprint your corporate logo or other identifying mark to help prevent unauthorized copying.

Fillable Forms

The creation of PDFs allows the distribution of forms with the formatting and layout intact. However, unless you don't mind some cryptic handwriting fillable forms, you can allow users to fill out the required information within your document, save it, then email it back to you.

Securing PDFs

Able2Extract 12 allows you to prevent editing using passwords with 256-bit encryption and file permissions.

You can also secure PDF documents with a password such as for an e-book or instruction document that you are marketing and don't want others to be able to freely redistribute.

Batch Processing

Batch processing is something that I didn't test, but which could be a time-saver in the bulk conversion of documents within a directory. I have a project coming up where I may have to convert a significant number of forms and other documents for processing and management and will welcome this feature if I need it.

PDF Viewer

Today's browsers and a multitude of programs can display PDFs with a range of capabilities that varies between products, including many free PDF viewers (many capable of “printing” any document to PDF).

However, it is both easier and more efficient to use a PDF editor like Able2Extract 12 to meet all your requirements. You don't have to reload a document if you decide you need to edit it or use any of the other professional capabilities.

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Conclusions

Seamless Productivity

In my testing, Able2Extract 12 seamlessly generated .docx and .xlsx documents from various PDFs from various sources, including conversions from Microsoft Word and LibreOffice as well as those obtained on the Internet.

Editing and creating new documents were both accomplished without struggling with help menus or visiting their support site (other than to verify a few facts).

I was impressed with the ease of using Able2Extract 12.

Extensive Features

Not all my tests are recorded here, nor did I test all the capabilities (i.e. I don't have AutoCAD but do have clients that run it). That indicates to me that it probably can meet requirements that I have not even identified.

Recommended

I strongly recommend Able2Extract 12 as an excellent tool for today's modern offices where the creation, editing and conversion of PDF documents is an essential part of maintaining the variety of forms and other content routinely required.

Gone are the days when paper versions were mailed, filled out and returned. The Internet has forever altered how we manage documents. While we're not quite at the point of the paperless office, we're getting much closer and a PDF editor with the features in Able2Extract 12 should meet the needs in most circumstances.

Comparison to Nitro Pro

I purchased Nito Pro to replace the expired version of Adobe Acrobat that came with my Adobe CS4 suite and have updated it from version 8 through 11. Pricing for current version of Nitro Pro is more than Able2Extract at US$199.00 although upgrades are significantly discounted.

There are several reasons that I feel that Able2Extract is a better product:

  • The conversion of PDF documents is both easy and supports the most commonly needed output formats.
  • The software runs on Mac and Linux as well as Windows.
  • The editing capabilities are both significant and there are advanced features that would allow its use in offices where features like Bates numbering and batch processing were required.
  • The pricing is more attractive although it is available only in U.S. dollars (I'm told it will be possible to pay for Able2Extract in Canadian currency with the release of the next version and their new website).

That is not to say that Nitro Pro is not an excellent product. I've used it and recommended it for quite a few years.

However, I've had some printing problems that were not resolved to my satisfaction (I have discovered some new potential solutions that I will try out).

Nitro Pro used with LibreOffice extracted a large PDF which was editable except that there were no spaces between words and required significant restorative editing. In the same circumstances, Able2Extract Pro delivered a workable document. Installing Microsoft Office resolved the issue for Nitro Pro, but the fact that Able2Extract Pro 12 supports the OpenOffice format will be welcomed by many open source software advocates.

Nitro Pro does not support Mac or Linux, the two operating systems I plan on running once my Windows 7 Pro support expires on January 14, 2020.

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About Able2Extract

Pricing

  • 7-day free trial.
  • $149.95 for a full license.
  • $34.95 for a 30-day subscription.
  • Optional CD $10.00.

All prices are in US dollars and are for electronic licenses.

System Requirements

Windows

Windows 10/8.1/8/7/Vista/2008/XP SP3/2003 SP2, 32-bit or 64-bit edition.

Additional software: Microsoft Office 2003 and newer recommended if you want to make sure you're looking at the converted document as intended (with all the formatting).

Mac

MacOS 10.13 (High Sierra), macOS 10.12 (Sierra), Mac OS X 10.11 (El Capitan), 10.10 (Yosemite), 10.9 (Mavericks), 10.8 (Mountain Lion).

Linux

Ubuntu 17.10/17.04/16.10/16.0415.10/15.04/14.10/14.04, Fedora 23/22/21/20, 64-bit edition.

Specifications

  • Hard Drive Space:
    • Windows: 200 MB;
    • Mac: 300 MB;
    • Ubuntu/Fedora: 200 MB.
  • Memory: 512 + MB RAM.
  • Monitor: 1366 (Width) x 768 (Height) screen resolution.

Company Contacts

  • Investintech.com Inc.
  • 425 University Avenue, Suite 301
  • Toronto, Ontario
  • Canada M5G 1T6

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Related Resources

Related resources on this site:

or check the resources index.

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www.RussHarvey.bc.ca/resources/able2extractpro-review.html
Updated: November 18, 2018