There are very few cloud-based tools that cater to the needs of business PDF workflows. Most of them are generic, supporting a variety of file types in terms of storage and sharing. A few, however, are dedicated to PDF documents, and one such platform is what we’re going to review today: Wondershare Document Cloud. This is a free platform with paid upgrade options, but the best part is that none of the features are restricted or hidden in the fully-free version, which is great for smaller businesses that want to try out the product on a small scale before migrating all their PDF workflows to the cloud.
Why is Annotation an Important Aspect of Collaboration?
Annotation involves marking up documents, making notes, and highlighting content. In a PDF file, this can only be done with a desktop editor or a cloud-based annotation tool. The purpose of annotation to communicate and collaborate with other project members or stakeholders. As such, it is an important component of a typical PDF workflow as it goes from person to person. Adobe already has a tool that can do this – store your PDFs on the cloud and allow you to share them with others in a secure manner. In addition, you can use Adobe Acrobat to annotate and e-sign files. The problem is that Adobe’s products are typically out of the affordability range of smaller businesses with limited software budgets.
How Wondershare Document Cloud Aids Collaborative PDF Workflows
Enter Wondershare Document Cloud, a premium cloud storage service that offers nearly all the capabilities of Adobe Document Cloud, but for free or at a very reasonable subscription cost. We were invited to review Wondershare Document Cloud and its features, usability, UI, and other aspects. This is our initial impression of the feature list offered by this platform:
Convenient cloud-based document management – Using a cloud tool offers several benefits, including accessibility, security, and cross-device usage. Documents hosted on such platforms can be accessed from the office, at home, or in the field, wherever they’re needed. Here are some scenarios where they bring value:
Field sales teams – Access contracts and agreements for clients on-location
HR and Finance – Internal circulars and notices that need signed acknowledgements from all employees
Creative teams – Sharing design PDFs and content documents and getting real-time feedback to streamline process flows
Procurement managers – Quickly sign and send invoices, delivery receipts, and purchase orders online, get vendor signatures in the field or online
Remote work – Collaborative editing, annotations, and file-sharing can help smoother workflow processes in work-from-home situations
Easy sign-in with a secure cross-product Wondershare ID – The single set of credentials for all of Wondershare’s products means you don’t have to remember multiple logins and passwords. One login ID and one password can be used across all of Wondershare’s products, which includes star performers like PDFelement for PDF editing, Filmora for video editing, FamiSafe for parental control, Dr. Fone for mobile device and data management, and many others.
Secure PDF cloud storage with an ample free limit of 1GB – The free service is great for small businesses that don’t really have a budget for emergency storage of PDF workflows on the cloud. Your most important PDF files that need to be shared and collaborated on can be stored on the cloud, while your larger archive files can live on backup drives or local memory.
Real-time annotation on the cloud – Wondershare Document Cloud allows authorized collaborators to make notes, add comments, highlight text, add sticky notes, add shapes, and so on. Each annotation is tagged with the ID of the user, allowing better visibility over who makes what additions to the file. The file is automatically updated every time a change is made, so there’s no need for version control.
Convenient and secure file-sharing – The file-sharing feature is solid, and it’s completely free for up to 5 documents. Instead of sending the file as an attachment, a link to the file can be shared from within the platform. Collaborators can access this link using their own individual Wondershare accounts, which ensures that non-authorized users don’t have access to them. In addition, the sender can set a view or view and comment permission when they generate a share link, and a deadline for access can be added to it. When the deadline expires, the receiver will no longer have access to the file. It’s a safeguard against share links floating around indefinitely.
Electronic signatures – Wondershare Document Cloud is integrated with a full-fledged eSigning feature that allows you to generate and apply electronic signatures to PDFs stored on the cloud. The key feature is the ability to securely send a document to multiple recipients to get their signatures, either collectively on the same document or one signature per copy.
Templates – Aside from the existing bank of templates that anyone can use to customize and create your own PDF documents, users can also create their own templates and save them in the cloud for future use.
Secure cloud storage for PDFs
Real-time annotation tools
File-sharing with permission-based access links
Team management for larger enterprise teams
Electronic signature for eSignature collection online and in bulk
Templates that can be customized with branding and other elements
Using Wondershare Document Cloud
Our hands-on experience with this relatively new product on the market was a very positive one. Obviously, we compared the features to Adobe’s Document Cloud, and the Wondershare platform matched the market leader’s product almost feature for feature.
In terms of usability, the navigation was a lot smoother than with Adobe. The layout is intuitive and uncluttered, unlike most of Adobe’s products. The labeling makes every feature clear and you can execute any task with just a few clicks. To note, we used the free version because we didn’t want anything that was hidden behind a paywall. The fact is, there’s nothing hidden behind the subscription. All you get are higher storage and sending limits for sharing and signature collections, which we thought was a very reasonable deal.
The UI is a little simple but that can be a good thing. Too many design elements tend to take away from the core functionality of a product. Besides, being a business product, the design aspect isn’t really as important as what the product can actually do, which is a lot.
The upload process is very straightforward, and we like the fact that you can upload documents either directly through your browser or through the new PDFelement Pro DC, which is cloud-integrated. You can also use the Windows version of Wondershare’s desktop PDF editor to send a document for signing or download a file from the cloud.
We were also able to execute several actions on uploaded files, such as renaming, deleting, downloading, etc. There are also options to share and comment, as well as separate options for the two types of e-signature sending. We played around a bit and noticed that all changes were implemented instantaneously, and colleagues sitting on other systems were able to see the changes (such as annotations and file name changes) in real-time.
The annotation tool is quite extensive and replicated from PDFelement, the desktop PDF editor from Wondershare. This gives users a consistent feeling when they switch between annotating on desktop and annotating on the cloud.
Sharing is simple. The share window lets you set a deadline for access expiry and also permission levels for viewing and viewing with commenting. This is especially useful in workflows where only some of the authorized users are contributors to the process, while other stakeholders can merely observe the changes as they are made.
The e-signature feature is probably the most exciting tool on the platform. Although Adobe’s Document Cloud does offer the same feature, this version is simplified so even first-time users can jump right in and feel comfortable. It allows for quite a bit of personalization and customization, including company branding.
How does Wondershare Document Cloud compare with competitor products like Adobe Document Cloud or Nitro Productivity Suite?
Wondershare Document Cloud can be used as a standalone cloud storage service, unlike Adobe or Nitro products. Moreover, it carries a lower price point, making it accessible to smaller teams and businesses. The interface is more intuitive that competitor platforms, which are feature-heavy but tend to be more cluttered. This gives Wondershare Document Cloud the gentlest learning curve of the three, enabling first-time users to jump in and start using all its features.
Our high-level impression of Wondershare Document Cloud was in line with our user experience as we played around with the various options. The interface is very intuitive and simple, which is why it’s surprising that they’ve packed so many features into the platform. The free-forever version is really no different from the full paid subscription version, except for the limits, which we thought was more than fair. It gives smaller companies and entrepreneurs the chance to use the service completely free, and only upgrade when they find that they need to move more of their PDF workloads to the cloud. The problem with Adobe is that you’re forced to pay after the free trial period, so this was a refreshing change. Wondershare Document Cloud is a solid cloud product that every company of every size should try – at least for some of their PDF documents. It’s well worth the switch.