PDF Conference closes with a drumroll…

Another PDF Conference is over, and it’s time to look at what we’ve learned. I’ve been a busy boy, having split my time between manning the Planet PDF booth in the exhibit hall, attending or moderating sessions and typing furiously in my hotel room. I can personally vouch for the new expo structure, which resulted in far less down-time in the exhibit hall while delegates attended sessions than in previous shows. The program has benefited from a stronger practical focus, with an assortment of real-world case studies and tracks that build on specific topics, such as the implementation of large-scale forms solutions.

To kick off the second day, Carl Young moderated a panel based around the ramifications of Adobe’s acquisition of Macromedia, both internal and external. They covered the future of Flash and the possibilities relating to its co-existence with PDF, among other things, and addressed Microsoft’s responses to PDF, past and future.

Over lunch, I managed to collar conference chair Carl Young for a quick powwow about the conference business, the state of Acrobat and the PDF format, and his predictions in the wake of Adobe’s acquisition of Macromedia. I’ll be posting a transcript of that interview on Planet PDF shortly, so watch this space!

Ted Padova’s session on advanced Acrobat techniques was both enlightening and controversial. After stressing the appropriate use of metadata, he demonstrated some powerful ‘living documents’ that could be built using page templates and form fields. The controversial part came near the end, when he noted a bug in Acrobat 7’s PDF Optimizer, that could be circumvented by <*gasp*> re-distilling the PDF!

Thom Parker then ran a session on the differences between JavaScript capabilities of Acrobat forms and those created in Adobe LiveCycle Designer. This session was very informative, explaining precisely which kinds of JavaScript would and would not survive the transition from Acrobat form to XFA (Designer) form. He even described how XFA data the unusual way in which XFA data is stored within a PDF file. As with the other presentations, Planet PDF will be posting his notes and sample files once they become available.

The educational portion of the show was neatly concluded with the Power Panel, a session in which delegates asked technical questions of an expert panel consisting of Windjack’s Thom Parker, popular author of ‘The Adobe Acrobat 7 PDF Bible’ and ‘Adobe Reader 7 Revealed’ Ted Padova, Adobe Systems’ Lori DeFurio and loquacious PDF Sage Leonard Rosenthol. I moderated the session this time around and it ticked merrily along, driven by the curiosity of attendees. It should be noted that the session covered not only live questions from the floor, but also those previously submitted by delegates over the course of the conference. As the show’s final session, it provided a great sense of closure, with attendees able to ask any burning questions that remained after the course of presentations had run.

If that weren’t enough, staying until the ‘bitter end’ had its own rewards… literally! Just after the Power Panel, the major prize-drawing for the show was held, with lucky delegates winning prizes from a rich cache that included two $400 gift vouchers and 3 iPod Shuffles!

Signing off from Arlington…

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About the Author: Dan Shea

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