PDFs are fantastic as a format in many ways. They store the position of their elements (unlike HTML) so allowing easy extraction of metadata (like titles and authors etc) for display in search results. There are a variety of free tools available to convert PDF files to text format and so the perception that Adobe rule the world of PDFs is false.
Most of these tools have simple ways to undo the potential damage caused by the double columned PDF, especially with long chemical names. Another common problem with chemical name extraction from PDF is that you often read this: “5-diphenyl” ….. but end up extracting this: “5diphenyl” …. not fantastic (although whether an Adobe tool would produce a better result I dont know), but easily solvable with things like regex.
So for PDFs: I find these free/three things surprisingly useful:
1) PDFtoText (for extraction)
2) PHP (to generate output)
3) Regex (for name matching/repairing)Stumble it!