Acrobat juggling a host of new video and online PDF file features
Alan Zisman (c) 2008 First published in Business
September 2-8, 2008; issue 984
High Tech Office column
Many computer generations ago,
there was a challenge: how could users see, on screen, a document,
mixing text and graphics, that always appeared the same, regardless of
computer platform or the fonts and applications that might differ
between individual computers?
One portable document format,
Adobe Acrobat, became an unofficial standard, with tax forms and more
being distributed online as Acrobat PDF files. Adobe’s free Reader
software, which enables PDF viewing both on its own and within common
web browsers, is almost universally installed.
But the success
of the PDF file format as a standard for portable documents posed
problems for its creator, Adobe. The company’s Acrobat software is no
longer needed to create basic PDF files. Many applications like Word
Perfect or OpenOffice have this capability built in, as does Apple’s
Mac OS X operating system. There are also literally dozens of free or
low-cost PDF-creation add-ons for Windows.
Why should users bother buying expensive Adobe Acrobat software?
new version of Acrobat has added features: collaboration, security,
form creation and more. The new Adobe Acrobat 9 kicks it up a notch. It
allows users to create multimedia PDF files with online hooks.
the new features: PDF portfolios combining multiple types of documents,
including video and links to web conferencing, in a single package,
built around attractive theme and navigation tools.
corporate logo’ed marketing document, combining text, graphics, charts
and videos. Or multi-faceted training and reference documents. Or just
to simplify attaching multiple documents to an e-mail message.
can be now embedded into PDF documents, making them universally
viewable. These new video-embedded PDFs are viewable in the new version
of Adobe Reader without forcing viewers to deal with often confusing
This feature is a marriage of the widely used
Flash format with PDF, made possible by Adobe’s acquisition a few years
back of Macromedia, creator of the Flash and Shockwave browser add-ons.
popular YouTube website converts uploaded video, regardless of the
original format, into Flash format. The new Acrobat does the same
thing, outputting the result into a PDF file – at least if you buy
Acrobat’s Extended version.
Document comparison features and other
new tools make it easier for workgroups to collaborate on document
production, while integration with the new Adobe.com services lets a
PDF document become the front-end for an online meeting, using
Adobe.com’s ConnectNow service as the online meeting space. At the
meeting, everyone’s view of the PDF file can be synchronized.
well, the new Acrobat offers scanning and optical character recognition
features, attempting to locate forms in print documents and
automatically convert them into editable fields in a form-based PDF
file. Adobe 9 makes it easier to export form data to spreadsheets for
Acrobat 9 comes in three flavours – at least for Windows users:
$299 standard version allows users to create traditional PDF documents,
to make the new PDF Portfolios and to create PDF forms, which can be
filled using the free Adobe Reader;
•the $449 Pro version adds collaboration and document comparison
add non-Flash video to PDF documents, you’ll need the $699 Pro Extended
version, which also includes Adobe Presenter to convert PowerPoint
slideshows into multimedia PDF files. Mac users can only get the Pro
An updated Adobe Creative Suite 3.3 version bundles the
new Acrobat Pro with Photoshop and other Adobe products. Upgrade
pricing is available for owners of previous versions, and free trial
versions are available online.
To read documents created including Acrobat’s new features, users will
require an updated copy of the free Adobe Reader.
Despite its new capabilities, Adobe promises Reader 9 will launch up to
twice as fast as earlier versions.
new Acrobat.com free online service offers five gigabytes of file
storage and sharing, (limited) online PDF creation, conferencing and
screen-sharing and Buzzword – a Microsoft Word-compatible, Flash-based
word processor. While there are hooks to these services built into the
new Acrobat 9, anyone can sign up for them. •