Win2PDF Celebrates 20 Years!

Now that we’ve made it to 2020, we’re proud to announce that this year marks Win2PDF’s 20th year anniversary. We sold our first desktop version of Win2PDF in 2000, and we’ve spent the last 20 years expanding and improving the software based on feedback from our users. We’re proud to be an independent software creator and we wouldn’t have made it without the support of all the Win2PDF users. So to our customers we say THANK YOU!

After the initial desktop Win2PDF software was released, we introduced Win2PDF Pro (with expanded capabilities for businesses needing strong document encryption, watermarks, and other advanced features). Then we added our Win2PDF Terminal Server Edition (TSE) and Win2PDF Pro TSE versions, which supported Microsoft and Citrix terminal server environments for multiple users and server-based applications. We’ve also created and expanded developer APIs and introduced a developer version of Win2PDF that will allow other programs to distribute a special version of Win2PDF with their own applications.

Through the years we’ve continued to update and expand the features of Win2PDF, added a Win2Image printer (included with all Win2PDF purchases) that saves files in a variety of image formats, supported every major Windows desktop and server operating system at the date of its release, and provided free utilities and documentation to aid users with a variety of PDF solutions.

So what about our plans for the future? We can summarize our plans in three words: Support, Continuation and Enhancement. Our focus is on expanding the Win2PDF product line to provide continued support of all new operating system releases from Microsoft, expanding the capabilities of Win2PDF, and focusing on customer solutions and ease of use issues.

Once again, to our users… THANK YOU!

New Watermark Enhancements in Win2PDF Pro

Our latest release of Win2PDF Pro (10.0.60) has a couple of new enhancements to the watermark/background feature.

The first enhancement is that you can now apply a PDF watermark or background that contains a clickable link to an external web page. When you select the watermark in the PDF Options… you can check “Allow Links in Watermark” as shown below.

This can be quite useful for things like company letterheads, where you may wish to have a clickable link to the company home page. Or, you may wish to have a direct link in a PDF invoice that takes the customer directly to a payment page on your web site. Here is an example of what a PDF invoice would look like after a payment watermark has been applied.

We’ve heard from several customers who have needed this feature to automate their payments and invoicing process with Win2PDF.

Additionally, there are two new options on the PDF Options… Watermark tab that allow you to apply a watermark to ONLY the first page, ONLY the last page, or to all pages. Previously it applied to all pages only. Here is a screen shot of the new options.

These new features are now available in the 10.0.60 release of Win2PDF Pro*. If you have a licensed version of Win2PDF Pro, you can download the latest Win2PDF Pro Service Pack at the Win2PDF download page.

* The standard edition of Win2PDF does not have the watermark feature enabled. This is only available in Win2PDF Pro. Standard Edition users can purchase a Win2PDF Pro Upgrade if this feature is needed.

How to Save a Web Page as a PDF

In our last post, we showed how a web page could be saved as a PDF file. However, the method outlined in that post was ONLY available to Apple iPhone or iPad users using iOS 13 or later, so it significantly limited its usefulness, especially for desktop PC users or users of other phones or devices like Android or Chrome.

Well, good news! We have just introduced a new feature on our web site called HTML to PDF. If you’re navigating from the main win2pdf.com home page, it is located under FEATURES as shown below with the blue arrow.

HTML to PDF is a free web service and it allows you to enter in the web site address (URL) of any public web site and click Submit. Once submitted, the web page will automatically be converted to a PDF file directly from your browser. You do not need to download or install any software on your computer to create the PDF file.

For example, suppose you want to save an article about how to carve a Thanksgiving turkey. Find the article you want to save online, copy the web page address, and then paste it into the HTML to PDF web page.

After you click Submit, the web page will be converted to a PDF file and returned to your web browser. If you have Adobe Reader installed as your default PDF viewer, it will open automatically and you’ll see the PDF file on your screen, where you can save it, edit it, or do anything you want with it.

For security reasons, this feature currently only works with web pages that are public and do NOT require a user login (like email, online banking, etc.) If you need to convert a secure page, you can download and install Win2PDF and print the web page to the Win2PDF printer.

This is part of a new set of capabilities that we are developing for Win2PDF. If you are a company or a software developer interested in an HTML to PDF API (where the PDF is generated as a cloud-based service as opposed to being installed as a local software component), let us know and we can provide more details.

In the meantime, give it a try and let us know if you have any questions. It may be a useful tool to share with friends or families this Thanksgiving… and it’s free.

Win2PDF for the Enterprise: Integration

In our last post, we talked about how Win2PDF can be customized for the enterprise.  In this post, we’ll continue the theme of enterprise users but focus on how Win2PDF can be integrated with other applications or business processes.

img_488306First, all of the Win2PDF products make use of the standard Windows API for printers. This means other applications can print to Win2PDF automatically, without any user interaction.  It does require some level of technical proficiency in programming, but there are a variety of programming environments we have documentation for, including Visual Basic (VB), Visual C for Crystal Reports, .NET, and Microsoft Access.  For a broader perspective all all features, just visit the Developer Information section of the Win2PDF user guide.

This in and of itself is a powerful tool that allows enterprises to create PDF files with specific naming conventions, file locations, and output options automatically.

Other useful features for incorporating Win2PDF with enterprise processes are:

  • Post-action setting:  This is a registry setting that can be set to allow the PDF created by Win2PDF to be passed to another program.  This can be useful for doing a secondary step with the PDF file, like processing it into a document management, email, printing, or reporting application.
  • Command-Line interface:  This was something we recently added and dedicated a blog post to it earlier this year.  It supports simple command line access to Win2PDF for merging, compressing, extracting pages, encrypting, and a variety of other PDF functions.
  • Win2PDF Mail Helper:  This free utility provides a SMTP mail client that can be used to send PDF files via email without user interaction.

Basically, if you have the ability to modify the application you are using to generate PDF files, using the integration options described here will give you the most powerful and flexible options to link PDF files into your workflow processes.  If you do not have the ability to modify the application, then the customization options for the enterprise would be the best option.

Let us know if you have questions about these or any other integration issues.  Again, if you can think of a situation where your PDF files can be incorporated into an enterprise process, there’s a good chance we’ve already figured out a way to make it happen.

Win2PDF for the Enterprise: Customization

Generally, Win2PDF has two main types of users.  The first is the individual user who simply wants to use Win2PDF as a desktop printer to interactively convert a variety of documents to PDF files.  The second type of user is an enterprise user in a company or larger organization.  Often, these users need Win2PDF for a specific application, process, or to generate PDF files in a consistent way across their team or department.

gear-icon-svg-2 (2)Based on the support requests we receive, many of these enterprise users don’t realize the extent to which Win2PDF can be customized for their specific organization’s needs. “I didn’t know Win2PDF could do that?” is something we hear all too frequently.

Just consider a few examples that an administrator or manager of a larger group of users may wish to use:

  • Create a dedicated copy of the Win2PDF printer that prints and names PDF files automatically when used from a specific application, and save them in a specific network folder.
  • Have all PDF files automatically sent as e-mail attachments after they have been created.
  • For all PDF files generated, preset a Master Password that only the system administrator knows. [requires Win2PDF Pro]
  • Force certain default settings and disable certain interface fields that you don’t want users changing (i.e., “always save the file as a PDF/A file, in a specific location, and don’t allow the user to email or print that to a paper printer when it is being created”)

Many of these things can be enabled directly by the user or administrator with our free Admin Utility or free Mail Helper utility, or by using the Auto-name feature.  Other things may require some level of customization in the Win2PDF setup program (particularly for large deployments).

If you are a manager of a enterprise group of users, let us know if there are particular things you want to do.  In most cases, we’ve probably already had a similar request and can direct you to what options are available.

PDF: The World’s Most Important File Format

I still haven’t seen Avengers: Endgame, but that doesn’t mean I don’t like a good origin story.  This new article explains why the PDF’s superpower is that it’s The World’s Most Important File Format.

adobe

As the article notes, the PDF format has a long history and it’s here to stay.  “In 50 years, these PDFs, even with their weaknesses, will help us document history with little of the ephemeral nature of the web. And unlike in paper form, those PDFs won’t suffer from frayed pages. The history of our generation will probably be in PDF form.”

What’s up with all of the revised privacy policies I’m getting these days?

Have you been getting a lot of email notices for updated privacy policies? Well, it’s not a coincidence. Many companies are updating or clarifying their online privacy policies to be compliant with the new European Union (EU) General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) which will technically take effect on May 25, 2018.

What is the GDPR?

GDPR was designed to harmonize data privacy laws across Europe, protect EU citizens’ data privacy, and to regulate the way organizations approach data privacy. There are a total of 99 articles that the regulation covers and you can read more about the details of this regulation through the EU GDPR Portal.

In essence, these are a series of regulations that control what information a company can collect about an individual (who reside in the EU), what they can do and how they store that information, and penalties for those companies if they violate the regulations.

Who is affected by GDPR?

From a user perspective, the protections cover any resident of the EU. Although, many companies are voluntarily extending their changes and privacy policies to include all users for simplicity.

From a company perspective, it applies to any organization who collects data on EU residents.

What should you know about GDPR, encryption, and your PDF files?

There are many more thorough sources of information on this topic (just Google ‘GDPR’), but one thing that may concern our Win2PDF customers is that the regulation restricts sending personal information unsecured. Encryption isn’t explicitly mandated by the regulations, but it is suggested several times as being part of the the compliance solution. For example, as this article points out:

…of the 261 pages of GDPR, the word ‘Encryption‘ appears just 4 times;

“…implement measures to mitigate those risks, such as encryption.” (P51. (83))
“…appropriate safeguards, which may include encryption” (P121 (4.e))
“…including inter alias as appropriate: (a) the pseudonymisation and encryption of personal data.” (P160 (1a))
“…unintelligible to any person who is not authorised to access it, such as encryption” (P163 (3a))

Does the term ‘may’, ‘such as’ and ‘as appropriate’ indicate that Encryption is mandated by GDRP, as some are suggesting? I don’t believe it does.

Do these terms suggest that Encryption is an OPTION and a good idea? Then yes, it does.

If you are sending a customer’s personal information in a PDF file, you should seriously consider encrypting the PDF.

What can you do to being compliant with GDPR?

First, here is a 12-point PDF available that gives a broad 12-step overview to achieving compliance with the GDPR.

Second, you may wish to review your current processes involving customer data that may be included in PDF files that you generate.  How are they disseminated?  Is the data secured?  If you do not currently encrypt PDF files, now may be a good time to do so.

Our Win2PDF Pro software has strong encryption included, and it is available as an upgrade if you currently have standard edition licenses.