Adobe PDF is a easy way to share information, but they have outlived their usefulness.
Why do I say this? Because they have become too difficult and complicated for the average person, and that means they will be done badly.
For years, businesses used Adobe Forms to capture information. It seemed like the ideal answer. Easy to do, and then you can get information emailed to you. Well that was the good points, the downside is vast. You still have to enter the information, you have to manage those emails, and you have to build and test your forms.
Everyday I see firsthand the downside of certain applications and ways of thinking. The way of thinking that Adobe PDF represents is the mentality of “lets build it ourselves”. This customization rarely ever pays for itself, and causes no end to problems in companies.
In every company I have worked in, they have had problems getting Adobe PDF forms to work properly. Even with a livecycle server, they don’t understand the process or methods of making things work. I am constantly asked to troubleshoot problems with PDF’s and forms, and using them just trades one set of problems for another.
For example, lots of companies use PDF to store information long term. Then when they need to get that information back in Word to change it, they have lots of issues. Changing a PDF is expensive using Adobe Professional. Not only that, most people don’t have those skills, so it tend to be more expensive than if they had just used word. Then once they change it, the person who edited the word files rarely has PDF creation skills, so that becomes an educational process again.
What is an alternative to this? I’m glad you asked. Any database with a user interface. I love Filemaker, and it can easily do everything Adobe PDF does and more. You can display your information, limit it, and search for it. You can get information from users, and the best part is you don’t need to involve email or manually doing this. I think this is hands down the best database and single best underutilized tool ever.
PDF had it day, and it will slowly die like Word is dying. Word is being replaced by the cloud, and it is no longer as special as it once was. Indeed, things like WordPress are hasting its death, and for that I am grateful.