When Leonard Rosenthol co-founded PDF Sages, he was already one of the most well known and respected software developers for the Apple Macintosh. This reputation grew during his time as the Director of Advanced Technology for Aladdin Systems while developing their StuffIt line of products. In addition, Rosenthol is intimately familiar with Windows and Unix systems, having led seminars and spoken at industry conferences and local user groups around the world.
While serving as the ‘Designated Free Electron’ for Adobe Systems in its ‘Internet and Layout Technologies Division’, Rosenthol continued his involvement in PDF and electronic publishing. Upon leaving Adobe, he joined Appligent — a leader in the server-based PDF market. As their Director of Software Development he helped to enhance and improve their technology. When he’s not working on PDF, Leonard continues to pursue some of his other areas of specialty by helping to maintain a number of open source projects including ImageMagick, FreeType and AbiWord.
If that weren’t enough, Rosenthol enhances his status as a PDF Sage by answering online forum questions from the 4 corners of the globe, actively participating in the Planet PDF Forum, among many others. The full interview text follows.
DAN SHEA, Planet PDF Associate Editor: In your opinion, what is the best thing about the new Acrobat 7.0 product family?
LEONARD ROSENTHOL, CTO, PDF Sages: My favorite thing in Acrobat 7 is the Organizer. For someone like myself who spends a LOT of time in Acrobat, and opens up the same PDFs frequently (such as the PDF Reference or SDK Docs) – having a nice way to collect them together and get access is a big help. Being able to organize and search recently accessed files is quite useful as well.
But I also have to say that Acrobat 7 is, IMO, more about what Acrobat 6 would have been if they had more time to ‘polish it up’. It’s fast, easier to use, UI is better organized and less cluttered, etc. And yes, the new features are great too – but I’m happy just having a better Acrobat.
SHEA: Tell me about your favorite obscure or underrated new feature.
ROSENTHOL: I think the new Preflight Droplets will be an ‘underground hit’. I think it will really enable people (once they find it 😉 to better ensure that their documents are correct.
SHEA: With Acrobat 7.0 Professional, it will be possible to activate full commenting functionality for users of the free Reader on a per-document basis. This represents a major shift in Adobe’s previous policy of not allowing changes to be saved in Reader. What impact do you think this will have on document review processes around the world?
ROSENTHOL: I hope it will push more reviews to be Acrobat/PDF based instead of staying with native Word (or other) documents. I do wish that Adobe has offered more functionality for ‘Reader Extensions’ to owners of Pro.
SHEA: Do you think the activation of commenting functionality is something that Adobe will make available to 3rd-parties?
ROSENTHOL: No, I don’t believe they will — at least not w/o that 3rd party licensing Adobe technology, such as one of the LiveCycle servers. The reason isn’t even for marketing reasons — it’s technical. Reader Extensions technology is based on Adobe’s Private Key — and they obviously can’t give that away.
SHEA: OK, let’s look at the other side: is there anything that you would like to have seen that’s not in v7.0?
ROSENTHOL: Not from an end user standpoint, no. They really put in everything that I was hoping for — and inside of a nice, fast, pretty package.
From a developer standpoint, however – there is a LOT of stuff missing! Many APIs that were promised for 6, still didn’t make it for 7 :(. Also, a lot of the new stuff isn’t available to developers either (including extending the Organizer). Oh well — there’s always 8…
SHEA: In forums and at conferences, one issue that just keeps coming up — particularly since the release of v6.0 — is the slow loading times of Acrobat. With the Acrobat 7.0 family, Adobe has tackled this head-on with the creation of a ‘speed launcher’ for Windows users in addition to other tweaks for both Mac and Windows platforms. What do you think of the changes, and have you noticed any significant improvements in performance with v7.0?
ROSENTHOL: Acrobat 7 on Windows loads almost instantaneously — it’s great! Mac OS X is also better (with 10.3.6 or later), though nowhere near Windows.
In general use, it’s much snappier, renders faster, etc. As I said before – polish!!