Acrobat 6.0: Standard vs Professional

Editor’s Note: This article is part of the Adobe Acrobat 6.0 Learning Center

With the advent of the slick new Acrobat product line for version 6.0, questions abound in forums and discussion lists throughout the PDF World. A major marketing push has ensued, including a re-launch of the PDF file format focusing on its use as a delivery mechanism for rich media. With the sheer volume of information flying across the wires after the release, it’s not surprising that the segmentation of Acrobat has resulted in widespread confusion over the roles of each of the various products. Please continue, dear reader, and we’ll do our best to enlighten you. In the interest of space, however, we’ll concentrate on what is shaping up to be the most confusing distinction: that between Acrobat Standard and Acrobat Professional.

So what’s the difference, anyway?

In a word? Plenty! Acrobat 6.0 Standard is designed for widespread circulation, while the more premium Professional version is aimed at a smaller market of users who require more powerful functionality. In particular, it targets content creators and creative professionals, with an enhanced feature set supporting the intelligent creation of layered PDFs from various design applications. In addition, creative types will probably enjoy the native preflight and review tools for their sheer convenience.

Are there many changes from Version 5?

First up, the interface has been given a major facelift to be more in-line with the system graphics in Windows XP and Mac OSX. Although it’s likely to be the first thing you notice, it’s certainly not the most important!

Current and previous users of Acrobat 5 may notice that a few functions that have not survived the transition to 6.0 in the Standard offering. Catalog, the Form Tool, JavaScript Console and batch processing engine have all been omitted from Standard, with their functionality now limited to the Pro version. Another thing that users will notice is the price: Acrobat 6.0 Standard retails for $US299, while the more powerful product sells for US$449 — both higher than previous offerings.

Form Toolbar in Acrobat 6.0 Pro

Finally, we have composed a feature matrix to allow side-by-side comparison of the two products.

Features Std Pro
PDF Creation
Electronic form processing (Saving/exporting form data) X X
Electronic form design (Creation of Form Fields) X
Easily merge multiple document types into a single PDF file X X
Convert Web Pages to PDF directly from Internet Explorer (Windows-Only) X X
One-button convert from Outlook for outgoing email attachments X X
Right-click creation of Adobe PDF from Windows Explorer X X
One-step screen captures into PDF X
Add headers/Footers/Backgrounds and Watermarks X X
Reduce File Size X X
Support for PowerPoint Animations X X
Engineering Features
One-button convert (and email) from AutoCAD (with layers) (Windows-only) X
One-button convert (and email) from MS Visio (with layers) (Windows-only) X
One-button convert (and email) from MS Project (Windows-only) X
Creative Professional and Print Publishing
Pre-flighting tools X
Support for PDF/X creation, pre-flighting and output support X
Color Separations Preview and Printing X
Rulers and Guides X
Support for auto-tray sensors for high-end printers X
Advanced printing controls for color management and job tickets X
Review and Commenting
Initiate email-based and Web-based reviews X X
Review tracker to manage incoming/outgoing status for email/web commenting review workflows X X
Import PDF comments back into source Word file (Word for Windows XP only) X X
Insert/delete text markup tool X X
Measuring toolbar X
Comment summary pane X X
Rich Text Formatting in Notes X X
Support for Custom Stamps X X
Japanese Standard Business Stamps (J version only) X X
Polygon and Polyline tool X X
Clouding Tool X
Arrow Tool X
Viewing and Navigating Documents
Loupe Tool X
Split-Window View X
Dynamic Zoom X X
Pan and Zoom X
Viewing Layers X X
Managing Layers X
Enhanced Keyboard Navigation X X
International language support, including Japanese X X
Enhanced Accessibility Checker X
Enhanced Make Accessible X X
Accessibility Quick Check in Reader, Standard and Professional X X
Enhanced structure touch up tools X
Read Aloud X X
PDF index searching X X
PDF index generation (Catalog) X
One-step searching across multiple PDF files X X
Search more of the PDF document, including annotations, bookmarks, structure and metadata X X
Search for PDFs on web X X
New support for searching Chinese, Japanese and Korean text X X
IT and Administration Tools
Update manager X X
Self-healing – Automatically detect problems within Acrobat (such as missing files) and easily repair them X X
Installer – lock down preferences X X
Enhancements for customizing the Acrobat application prior to deployment (for IT Managers) X X
Security and Digital Signatures
Enhanced usability for applying and validating digital signatures X X
LDAP Integration (Windows-only) X X
MSCAPI Support (Windows-only) X X
eBook Support
EBX support X X
eBook library X X
Giving and lending eBooks X X
Bookstore URL manager X X
Search web dictionary (English only) X X
Real Media Support(Windows Only) X X
Windows Media Support X X
MP3 Support X X
Flash Support X X
Embedded Multimedia content within PDF X X

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About the Author: Dan Shea

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