Adobe Acrobat advances concept of 'paperless office'
Businesss in Vancouver ISSUE 609: June 26, 2001
The high-tech office column
by ALAN ZISMAN (c) 2001
The once-vaunted "paperless office," promised
as an outcome of
the digital revolution, never quite got here. Even with e-mail
inter-office memos and Internet-based order processing, office
and laser printers continue to churn away as busily as ever.
Electronic documents have a growing presence, however.
While a standard
word processor file could qualify, documents created by products such
the commonly used Adobe Acrobat go a step beyond.
Acrobat PDF files are widespread on the Internet and
on CD because they
have several advantages over both standard HTML Web pages or files
by word processors or other applications.
Unlike Web pages, Acrobat documents retain the look
and feel of your
original page design. If you've produced an attractive catalogue, for
your Acrobat document will look on screen like the print version.
documents can even be viewed online in your Web browser.
Unlike most word processor or page layout documents,
can be opened and viewed by users who don't have a copy of the
used to produce it. Using the popular and freely downloadable version
Adobe's Acrobat Reader, users can view an Acrobat version of your
or brochure, regardless of which software produced it or which platform
was used -- a Windows computer, a Mac, an OS/2, Unix or Linux system,
a Palm or Visor handheld.
And if you send a copy of, say, a Microsoft
Word document as
an e-mail attachment, the recipient can open the document, make changes
and pass it off as your original. As the name suggests, the free
Reader is read-only. Look, but don't touch.
While the Reader is free, to produce Acrobat documents
you need to purchase
the $375 (upgrade, $150) full Adobe Acrobat package, now in a new
Unlike most applications, you don't type into Acrobat.
Instead, it installs
as a printer driver. That makes it accessible to virtually all your
programs. Create a document in whatever program you normally use, then
"print" it to Acrobat, just as you would to a physical printer. You end
up with a PDF file equivalent of your paper output, ready for
You can do more than simply create a digital version
of a paper document,
however. You can create a hypertext table of contents or index, for
Similarly, links in a Web page converted to PDF remain
live. You can
digitally sign your documents or set security restrictions, allowing
users to make changes, export images or more, while other readers can
view the document. The new version features more powerful 128-bit
than previous versions.
Also new to version 5 are features that make it
possible to integrate
PDF documents with online XML content. This makes it easier to migrate
paper forms to the Web, integrating user input with your corporate
With its abilities to make content look the same
onscreen and across
platforms as on paper, Adobe is hoping to extend Acrobat's reach. The
forms the basis of Adobe's free E-book Reader, to read electronic books
And its technology is used, behind the scenes, for
screen displays in Apple's
OS X operating system. As a result, users of that new system can, from
its Print Preview dialogue boxes, create basic Acrobat PDF files from
OS X application. To get beyond the basics, they too may want to
the full Adobe Acrobat package.
By the way, though the free Acrobat Reader is
installed on millions
of computers, users of older versions of the Reader may find themselves
unable to read Acrobat files produced with later Acrobat versions.
for the free version 5 download.