Soda PDF is a heavyweight PDF software that can create, edit and convert PDFs to and from any popular file format out there. Extensive PDF customizability incorporated within solid security features, Soda PDF fulfills the needs of any individual or enterprise alike. And in this Soda PDF review, we will be looking at all the features that make this application tick.
Soda PDF Overview
What is Soda PDF?
Soda PDF is the up-and-coming complete PDF management software solution. Created by LULU Software to tackle the ever-growing and sophisticated needs of a working individual or a fully functional business when it comes to documentation.
This software looks to provide a fully functional solution for all of your PDF requirements. Starting from creating PDFs from scratch, to providing you with a galore of editing and customization tools both to help you to bring your PDFs to life as well as secure your most sensitive information. And last, but not least, Soda PDF provides great conversion options to transform your PDFs to any of the most popular file formats that you might need, and vice versa.
Soda PDF Details
Overview of Features
- Create PDFs from over 300 different formats, like Word, PowerPoint, and Excel among many others.
- Edit PDFs in any way imaginable. Text, Images and Forms can be customized easily.
- Split and Merge PDFs.
- Annotate and Review PDFs.
- Secure your PDF documents with passwords, whiteouts, redaction, eSign, watermarking and Bates numbering.
- Work seamlessly between their online platform and desktop application.
- Ability to directly store your documents in the cloud. Integrations with Dropbox, Box, Onedrive, Google Drive
LULU SOFTWARE is the parent developer of the Soda PDF software platform. Their mission is to always be a consumer and end-user centric and to provide them with easy-to-use software solutions in the ever-sophisticated technological landscape.
Home Page: https://www.lulusoftware.com/
Address: 7075 Robert Joncas Place, Suite 142, St-Laurent, Quebec H4M 2Z2, Canada.
Soda PDF Review & Comparison
Our Verdict After Testing
The Soda PDF easily earns a spot on our workstations as a primary solution to all our PDF needs. Off the bat, the interface is very easy to comprehend, but not so much in the way of navigation. Initially, it proved difficult to find the right buttons and features that we were looking for though it got easier eventually.
The layout is much like your typical Windows interface or any MS Office software. Soda PDF gets points for that. And it also helps that all the primary tasks are presented to us right on the landing page of the software.
Its OCR capabilities are pretty decent. We had no trouble working with scanned documents. But where Soda PDF truly shines is in its customizability and editability of PDF documents.
We put Soda PDF through its paces from creating to editing PDF documents in any way imaginable. From adding new entities (text, images and drawings) and customizing them, transforming the document in many ways (compress, crop, merge and split) and finally to adding forms and other security measures (redactions, whiteouts, watermarks and electronic signatures).
We have also tested the conversion capabilities of the software to convert PDF documents to other necessary and popular forms. More on that later.
We are happy to say that this software took our blows head-on and still came out on top.
+ Scalable Customizability: Whether you are an individual or an enterprise, all the features are available at your fingertips. A paywall is only there for the number of users.
+ Chock full of features: All functions needed to easily create, convert and edit PDF documents are all available from day one.
+ Easy to use: Once you are past getting used to the interface everything becomes that much easier thanks to Soda PDF’s focus on a clean interface. All the tabs and buttons are intuitively placed and they themselves provide a plethora of sub-options.
+ Secure: The ability to secure sensitive information in a document is critical to any organization. Soda PDF provides all you need for eSigns, Bates numbering, watermarks, and redactions for your PDF.
+ Online Integration: Soda PDF altruistically allows you to experience all of its basic features online, for free! While the base desktop version integrates to existing cloud storage platforms like Dropbox, Google Drive and OneDrive seamlessly.
– Wonky Interface: While it may not be true for everyone, we experienced that navigating through so many options and functions that Soda PDF provides to be a challenge initially. Especially because the major functions that you will be looking for are usually hidden behind tabs that take most of the space in the panel.
– OCR is not the best: While it does provide OCR functions, it is not the most precise out there.
Comparison to Similar Products
The overall experience that has come about from us using Soda PDF is positive. It has been fairly easy to use after we have gotten past the initial hitch that is the interface, but more on that later.
The vibrant interface is welcoming and the tabs and buttons are intuitively placed mimicking much of Windows 10’s layout.
All of the necessary functions are readily available and using them didn’t have me rush to Help or any online tutorials.
At first touch, the animations seemed heavy which gave us a foreboding feeling that the software might be eating a lot of memory or might be slow in functionality. But luckily that wasn’t the case. The animations, as weighty as they are, are pretty snappy. Even on a 4GB memory.
The same can be said about the actual processes. Conversions and OCR scans of the heaviest of files did not take more than a couple of seconds.
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The interface of Soda PDF takes a heavy blow, having a learning curve attached to it. At first glance, it sports a vibrant orange color, much like MS PowerPoint and also is designed as such. This might give a welcoming feeling to new users, but the problems hide directly underneath.
I remember trying to find the watermark button that I was promised during the time of installation. It took me a solid 10 minutes of flipping between the Secure and Edit tab to find the option hidden under the Add Page Marks button. It was right there, I just happened to gloss over it.
Similar problems can be experienced with other options as well. By making the buttons larger and easy to read, Soda PDF has hidden a lot of options under them.
But once you get used to that, the software gets that much easier to navigate and use.
The features and functions that Soda PDF provides are a harmony of both quality and quantity. There really is no lack in what functions you can use and how you can use them placing Soda PDF on the top spot on our list.
You can create PDF documents from scratch or convert other popular file types to PDF with ease (see below for a demo). Inserting texts and images to the page and editing them is child’s play with Soda PDF.
After having run OCR recognition on a scanned PDF it was very easy to edit, highlight and add comments to the page. This brings us to collaboration.
Unlike Nitro Pro, you cannot collaborate with your co-workers live but you can definitely share these documents with them by using direct integrations to all the popular cloud storage platforms out there.
Reviewing documents have been made that simple with Soda PDF.
Security is another place where Soda PDF is strong. It provides both online and offline security for your sensitive documents.
Soda PDF allows in-page password protection at a click of a button. It also provides a whiteout option to be implemented on the page directly.
Redaction with Soda PDF is made easy. Just dragging a box around a sensitive section of the document will mark it for redaction. You can do this multiple times for multiple pages and all of it will activate with a single click.
On the other hand, Soda PDF does not have a dedicated Bates numbering button. Bates numbering can be done by using the Header and Footer option. It is highly customizable.
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Soda PDF also shines online. But that is only the case for certain functions. Online support, as in videos, tutorials and customer support, leaves a lot to be desired.
On the upside, Soda PDF has all of its basic functions available online, and for free!
The standout options are editing, converting, merging and compressing any of your PDF documents.
On the downside, however, videos and tutorials relating to Soda PDF are quite old. I don’t think we have been able to find a single online video (tutorial or otherwise) that is more recent than two years old.
Customer support for Soda PDF is in the form of F.A.Qs and forum threads, of which the latter is very shallow and does not have many topics.
Feature Showcase: Converting a PDF Document to Excel
One of the biggest tasks that all organizations have is the analysis of data. This data comes in office reports that get commonly passed around the PDF format. So it is imperative that you have a software that converts this PDF into a readable and organized spreadsheet format (like the .xlxs Excel format).
Soda PDF has got you covered.
It has one of the best conversion platforms among the many PDF software that we have tested. It is not only easy but also offers a lot of customizability to the conversion process.
Let’s see how it is done
Step 1: Opening your desired file
Soda PDF is kind enough to offer us a dedicated PDF to Excel conversion button right on its landing page. Simply clicking on the button will immediately prompt you to open the file you desire to convert.
The old school method is also available:
Open PDF – To open the file.
Or use the dropdown menu at the top-left corner of the interface.
Step 2: Conversion (Part 1 – Single File)
If you have clicked the PDF to Excel button, the software will offer you your conversion options. Otherwise, you can find it on the top options ribbon as the CONVERT tab.
Next, click on the Export button to reveal the file options that you can convert to. As we have mentioned previously, some options are difficult to find in this interface.
Clicking on the PDF to Excel option will bring out the Conversion Menu. Just click on the vertical three dots button (kebab menu) on the top right to expand the menu to reveal more options.
Breakdown of the Conversion Menu
Soda PDF is the king of customization, and as such the options that this menu provides are nothing short of impressive.
Let’s look at some of the features:
- Pages to Export: In other words page selection. You can choose to export all at once, a particular page or a range of pages.
- Save Resultant Document to: Basically a Save As, allowing you to select the name and destination of your converted file.
- Convert Settings: Here’s where the magic happens. You can choose to output all of the converted data into a Single Sheet or Separate Sheets according to the pages in your PDF document. You can also choose to export all Text and Tables available in your document or take advantage of Soda PDF’s intelligent recognition capabilities to export the Tables Only.
The rest are pretty intuitive and easy to follow.
Step 2: Conversion (Part 2 – Batch Conversion)
Batch conversion in Soda PDF occurs in an entirely new tab aptly named BATCH located on the top options ribbon.
Clicking on it opens a new window offering you to select multiple files to convert.
The menu on the right is the same as the Conversion Menu that we have just discussed.
Step 3: Check your converted file
After you have clicked on the Export button in the Conversion Menu (or Batch button in the BATCH window), the pages should be successfully converted.
Go ahead and open them up to see the results of the conversion!
As you can see in this example Soda PDF does a decent job of converting difficult tables, but even then some human touch may be required to make it look like the perfect finished product that you have imagined.
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|STANDARD||$8 per month||$81 per year*|
|PRO||$12.50 per month||$126 per year*|
|BUSINESS||$20 per month||$201 per year*|
Breakdown of the different packages: Link
With your first purchase, you also get two months free.
Soda PDF also graciously offers a Free Trial for new users. It has a period of 7-Days in which you can experience all the features of the PRO Version of Soda PDF.
(Previous iterations of Soda PDF offered 14-days of the free trial. Bummer!)
Soda PDF scores very well across the board. In our opinion, it can easily be in the Top 5 among all of the PDF software we have tested, if not the Top 3.
We have tested the Pro version of Soda PDF for over a week and we can honestly say that it has left us satisfied with all its features, functions and support, overlooking the initial interface issues. It covered all our workplace needs in terms of ease of use, customizability and security.
We would even wager that even the standard version will leave even the most avid PDF users fulfilled. But still, if you are willing to invest, getting the Pro version is going to be well worth it.