ZonePDF is a recently developed WebApp that’s designed with a very specific purpose in mind: to make using robust, full-featured PDF files quick, easy, and free. How does it work? To paraphrase the website’s own description:
The primary purpose of the site is to allow the easy conversion, compression, combination, or dividing of PDF files. It’s able to take Word, Excel PowerPoint and JPG files and convert them to PDF; take existing PDF files and split them into multiple files consisting of individual pages; compress PDF files for easier transfer; and merge multiple PDF files into a single file. This allows for the creation of self-contained multimedia projects easily shared and viewed across any platform and device, able to utilize text, images, slides, spreadsheet data, and even web pages all in one file.
Registration for the site is free. It’s also unnecessary unless you need to work with more than two files at one time. A disclaimer sits on each upload page saying that the files are only held on the server for a few hours once you remove them before being permanently deleted, so security ought not be a concern.
After trying out each feature, I can attest that they work as advertised. I didn’t have any complex Excel sheets to test with, but the ones I did have were a few pages long and there weren’t any errors in formatting. I tested the JPG conversion with high resolution images and saw no significant change in quality. The features for working with the PDF files themselves worked perfectly, able to disassemble and reassemble multiple PDF files of varying sizes with no errors.
For my final test, I took several of the test files I had converted and merged them all into one large combined PDF. The results were certainly interesting! This was where I ran into the only real flaw. When combining PDFs, there is no sort of preview, no sort of editing beforehand. All the app does is push the files together. So when my high-res picture was merged with my Word and Excel pages, it was giant and the pages were tiny. I was able to zoom in on the pages and read them, but that just made the picture that much larger.
It’s worth noting that a desktop app is being worked on so that files won’t have to be stored online. There’s an email list you can sign up for to be kept in the loop about its development. There’s also a blog that’s updated sporadically, but it has good information available.
- Clean, simple interface
- Easy to use
- Lightning fast
- Consistently good results
- No way to preview PDFs to be merged, so any formatting must be done beforehand
- Sort of nitpicky, but the blog could stand to be updated more
PDFs are popular for their ease of transfer. The information looks the same no matter who opens it, no matter what device it’s opened on. They aren’t easy or cheap to edit, though. Lots of free alternatives are out there for editing, but finding conversion tools is difficult. In other words, one-stop solutions are extremely rare. Zone PDF isn’t a one stop solution, either. But it does what it does extremely well, and extremely fast.