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PDF documents - is there a good tool for remote collaboration: highlightings, annotations, comments, notes?

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Posted by Hillman
Dec 15, 2013 at 09:58 PM


Well, maybe this could be something you are looking for?  http://www.nitropdf.com/cloud-connectivity  It says: “Sign, share, and save documents directly to the Cloud so you can collaborate easily with anyone, anywhere.” Sounds scary to me but contains all the buzzwords we are looking for. I use Adobe Acrobat XI Pro, BTW, and am very happy. Also remember: With Adobe Acrobat, you get the best quality PDFs as well as the smallest. But then again, as you correctly wrote, it is quite expensive.


Posted by Paul Korm
Dec 15, 2013 at 10:08 PM


I’m seeing two major requirements: group access to a library of PDFs, and collation (somehow) of annotations.  On the second requirement: given the constraints mentioned in your latest post, perhaps you could elaborate a bit on what you’re expecting from “sharing our highlightings, etc.”—do you mean everyone is working in the same document and adding their notes and comments to that single instance of a PDF?  Or is everyone working on their own instance and you and your colleagues are willing to work with multiple sets of markups?  Or somewhere in between?

If your collaboration is toward the “one-instance-per-person” end of the spectrum, then perhaps the first requirement could be met simply: get a (free) Dropbox or Box or other cloud-like account and store the PDFs in folders there.  You could work out a folder-and-naming scheme among your colleagues to indicate who worked on what instance of a PDF.  And your colleagues would rely on their own software for doing the markups and annotations—as long as the annotations are Acrobat-compliant and therefore readable by whatever software your colleagues use.

sciagent wrote
>I have a pile of PDF documents, and would like to work on them with my colleagues (who are located in different countries) by sharing our highlightings, annotations, comments, and notes.


Posted by sciagent
Dec 15, 2013 at 11:56 PM


Hillman, yes, it really contains:) Still a price tag is too high. Under a current economical situation I just cannot drop to few of my colleagues something like: “Would you spend a bit above a hundred euros to one more tool, or ask your university to do that?” I afraid even expenditure of 40 euros is not justified - at least while we speak of a piece of software that does not replace few of the convenient tools by offering something better.

Yes, everything you said about the Acrobat is true, but you see above…

Paul, thank you for a request for clarification. I really meant the case when few collaborators work on the same document, and result of the work is seen by everyone immediately. And it is important to maintain the layout of the original document (particularly, page numbers) - to be able to discuss of the document with outsiders who are aware of the document. Documents are complicated (a mixture of text, figures, illustrations, and tables), often are having more than 100 pages, where some of those are rotated.

There are few commercial solutions, but do not seem to be affordable:
GroupDocs Annotation

And free, but not provide a required functionality:
PDFescape (a free version is limited - up-to 100 pages; annotation tools are not convenient)
PDFzen (does not save annotations)


Posted by quant
Dec 16, 2013 at 09:01 PM


sciagent wrote:
Thanks for all inputs!
> >quant, I tried the PDF-XChange Viewer. It really provides a nice
>selection of tools. But just-in-time sharing of the result of work is
>still a problem.

I wasn’t suggesting pdf-xchange viewer on its own, but pdf xchange viewer RUN in the spoon.net service. Have you tried that?

Seems that even adobe reader might be able to do that

It says:
“Adobe Reader allows a more secure way to view, print, search, sign, verify, and collaborate on PDF documents”



Posted by sciagent
Dec 17, 2013 at 01:57 PM


quant, it seems that I didn’t get an idea of how to use the spoon.net service for the need we discuss. They offer a virtual desktop where you can install (select from a list of freeware they have, or install your own, licensed) up to five applications for free.

When few people need to work on one document at the same time, and everybody’s input has to be seen to every of them as soon as it is made - how the spoon.net service will help?

I checked the Adobe Reader before, and could there any meant for a collaborative work. The only relevant option was:
Share Files Using SendNow Online…
which just uploads your file - and you can share a link to it.

it is seen that “Streamline document reviews and approvals” are available in Acrobat XI Standard and Pro version only.


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