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PDFpen Software helps your office

Using the business End of a Wacom Tablet By Ko Maruyama
Most people know Wacom tablets because of their association with the digital graphics community.  Until the recent advent of tablet PCs, most people only knew about digital signatures in the checkout line after using your credit card.  That's all about to change. With the assistance of PDFpen, you can sign your digital documents without ever scanning or printing if you use your wacom tablet.

PDFpen is a PDF editing software from Smile on my Mac.  Completely ready for use on the Leopard OS (universal binary), this piece of software will allow mac users everywhere to modify PDFs with ease.  What's particularly nice about PDFpen is that it allows Mac users to modify PDFs without having to purchase a huge PDF creation suite, but gives them many of the tools that you'd find necessary for annotating and searching the documents.

Wacom's Bamboo tablets ($79-199)

Wacom recently introduced their BAMBOO tablet, a small stylus and surface which would allow you to make digital pen strokes easily on any software that would allow it.    PDFpen is a perfect fit for the Bamboo.  Rather than using a single "stamped" signature when signing digital documents (which is also possible in PDFpen), you can use your Wacom tablet and the Scribble Tool to sign the documents.

You can use the Wacom pen (left) or even use a scanned signature (right).
You can save either to a library for later use if you want.

While use of the Wacom tablet might be new to you, and might take a little time to develop, its use is closer to a practical (real world) signature.  It may force you to take more time to read and ratify the document rather than giving it a cursory glance and rubber stamp.

Marking up the PDF for more work.

Sure, you may have come up through the ranks, and can type 130wpm, but equipped with the Wacom Bamboo stylus, you can click and scribble notes to the editors and let THEM make the corrections needed for the final draft.

NOTE: You can keep the Scribble Tool active by double clicking on the tool's icon
A single click will show the icon in blue, a double click will show the icon as purple

You can scribble like John Madden all over the place - drawing dashed lines, swooping arrows, crossing out language, circling words and marking huge exclamation marks.  (NOTE: to turn off the auto-smoothing while you 'scribble', hold down the CMD key - I look forward to a preference dialogue which will allow you to toggle that on/off in later versions).

If you're particular to typed notes, PDFpen offers Stickies / speech bubbles allow you to create notes (marked with your name and date) that are typed in the font of your choice.  This is a separate tool from the standard type tool which will help you to fill in the strings of responses on the "space provided".

Overall, PDFpen makes great use of the Wacom tablet and will allow you to make quick work of editing, filling out and even signing PDF forms digitally - without having to print and/or scan anything.

PDFpen costs only $49.95 and the PDFpenPro version is only $94.95.  PDFpen Pro gives you only a slight advantage, allowing you to create cross-platform editable PDFs.
If you only need an application that will help you in the occasional modification of PDF documents - typing text, reordering pages, signing digital forms, then PDFpen is exactly what you need.

Even when adding a $79-$199 Wacom tablet to accompany your PDFpen license, you still won't hit the $299 price tag that Acrobat 8 alone will cost you.

Try it out at or see them at the upcoming MACWORLD EXPO in San Francisco in 2007.

A minor note: When you view the document 90 degrees from its original state, you lose the appearance of the lines from the Scribble tool.  That is, you can't see them.  They are still there, and can be modified, but you just won't be able to see them until you rotate the document back to the original orientation. (Tested on Mac PPC OSX 10.4.9)

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Ko Maruyama is a freelance animator in Los Angeles.  In addition to working on film and broadcast animations, Ko teaches at Pasadena's Art Center College of Design - focusing on motion design.  When working, writing or testing software allows, you can find him lending a hand in the After Effects board and lurking among the Cinema4D, Visual Effects and Photoshop posts within the DMNForums.
Related Keywords:product review, mac, smileonmymac, PDF editor, wacom bamboo, wacom tablet, digital signature


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