This is definitely the best alternative to Acrobat Pro. It is indeed a workhorse. I am a long-time user of PDFpenPro but have also used Adobe Acrobat and other competing apps. Other apps have better marketing, but PDFpenPro really gets the job done. For instance, with PDFpenPro, I can create interactive forms, apply digital signatures, batch OCR, and with the latest version, view the same document in two screens! Someone mentioned it is the swiss-army knife of PDF editors for Mac and I agree 100%. I contact support regularly if I come across any issues and they are very responsive. Bugs? All apps have bugs and PDFpenPro seems to have less of it over time since they've been around for awhile, but a responsive developer who really works to address it is much appreciated. I am looking forward to additional developments of PDFpenPro that can bring the app even closer to the offerings of Acrobat, but better than Acrobat.
As more and more developers are going subscription, I don't mind the optional $30 upgrade to the next major version. You are not "locked-in" to a subscription, and the app is yours forever. For those who "accidentally" upgrade, there is a notice informing users when it is a paid upgrade. They also send you an email when they release a major version to let you know. Nothing of quality is free and needs maintenance. It takes resources to create and develop software. I've seen great apps or apps with potential come and go because the developers can no longer support the app-- very sad thing. If you find the app useful, I think it is worthwhile to make sure you are running the latest version. Smile's upgrade cost is pretty reasonable for their work. The alternative is to lock yourself into yet another subscription. Adobe is too expensive and non-intuitive. PDFpen Expert as subscription without OCR, without form creation capabilities, without export features is a bit too high for a pretty UI. PDFelement seems to use other brands to marketing their own product and their quality is poor. You want pretty or you want a workhorse? Frankly, I don't think a PDF editing program should be a subscription program unless it is web-based or there is some server or Cloud service involved where you are sharing data across a team of users and security is a concern. Another alternative is to buy various apps piecemeal but the cost, time, and maintenance is even higher than just paying for PDFpenPro and upgrading every year. I am happy investing in a good product that would provide me value long term and don't want to have to constantly switch, buy, and learn how to use new apps to have it accomplish what I need.