Planet PDF’s take on Acrobat 6.0

Adobe is segmenting Acrobat into three distinctly separate products, with successively greater features, benefits and prices. Introducing, from low to high-end: Acrobat Elements (volume licensing only, $28 per seat for a 1000-seat license), Acrobat Standard ($249/$99 upgrade) and Acrobat Professional ($449/$149 upgrade). Acrobat Reader is still around, but it’s now known by its new moniker, Adobe Reader.

The most significant comment that Planet PDF can make about Acrobat 6.0, is that it’s now well and truly a mature product, in fact, ‘mature’ is our Acrobat 6.0 one word summary as you’ll note in our official Planet PDF first look.

Many of the little additions and accompaniments which make it so easy to use PDF are what we feel will make this product successful.

The Acrobat Name Game

  • Adobe Reader – In a case of wag the dog, the product which was formerly known as the Adobe Acrobat Reader, now has the official title of Adobe Reader. Time will tell as to whether this is an effective name change, or another educational & training nightmare. This newly named product also includes full support for Adobe eBooks without the need for a separate viewer.
  • Acrobat Elements – this minimalist product available for volume purchase only is used for PDF creation and has no plug-in support. Buy and use this as-is, no free steak knives here.
  • Acrobat Standard – Standard Acrobat viewer product. This supports plug-ins but has limited functionality.
  • Acrobat Pro – the big kahuna – this is the standard version of Acrobat enhanced with additions for the creative professional, forms designer, engineer and architect. It boasts a JavaScript development environment complete with a debugger. Along with this it also contains watched folder support, PDF/X compliance, advanced pre-press and printing capabilities. This is the product that most of you will be wanting to use, in our opinion.

The Planet PDF Top Six Features

Whilst there are many new additions, we’ve selected a few of our favorites to share with you below. (See also Planet PDF takes a first look at Acrobat 6.)

  1. Simple PDF creation means that PDF can be used effortlessly throughout a workflow by a variety of users. Do not underestimate the significance of the work that has gone into this set of features. You’ll find PDF files popping out like rabbits. Take the ‘Attach As PDF’ button in MS Outlook, this is a real time saver that should be the tipping point in dramatically increasing the number of PDF files flying around.
  2. Sophisticated reviewing and commenting means that electronic markup is much more likely to occur due to the more precise nature of the new toolset. We’ve been trying for years at Planet PDF to make use of commenting, but we’ve always found it too clumsy for prime time. With Acrobat 6.0, it looks like we’re now in luck.
  3. Printers and creative professionals will be happy to see the additional print-related functionality built into the Pro version. As Acrobat 5.0 Bible Author and Planet PDF friend Ted Padova says, ‘…Acrobat was like a second cousin to other Adobe imaging applications where users needed to depend on third party plug-ins (often at prices twice the price of Acrobat) to perform the job of professional printing. Now in Acrobat 6 Professional, users can preflight jobs, soft proof color, and print with features that rival most professional layout applications.’
  4. Helpers, time savers and mature feature sets mean that Acrobat 6.0 is much more likely to be able to take care of the job that you set for it, without the need for additional third party plug-ins. Not to say that third-party plug-ins won’t be useful, but they’ll be innovating in new areas rather than operating within what’s now baseline functionality.
  5. An enhanced help system means that getting help is easier and less disruptive. At Planet PDF, we’re very happy now after years of having the Acrobat Help file open over the top of our work, the technical wizards at Adobe have found a way of having it open in a separate window. This definitely gets the Planet PDF thumbs up!
  6. Rich multimedia support means that PDF can be used as a complete rich media container with no need for external services/files. This isn’t going to revolutionize the Planet, but as you’d expect, we do think it’s pretty cool that you can embed an MP3 file within a PDF.

Potential Issues For Some Users

  • It’s bigger, badder and slower than previous versions. The old adage, you don’t get something for nothing applies here. The beta versions we evaluated weighed in at close to 200MB for PC and double that for the Mac. Hopefully there’s still some dieting to be done here before commercial release.
  • Good news, bad news for Mac users. Long-time Mac users may well be disappointed with the lack of browser-integration for Acrobat 6.0 and Mac OS X which means that online commenting is off-limits for Mac users. But they’ll be happy to see their old friend, Acrobat Search, back in action. But it gets worse for Mac classic users, they don’t get any support at all.
  • The price. Yep, reach a little deeper into your pockets this time. Serious PDF users are going to need and want the Pro version which weighs in at about $449 street (approx. $150 more than Acrobat 5), with an upgrade price of $149. More lightweight users will pay $299 for Acrobat 6.0 Standard or just $99 to upgrade. If you’re upgrading, you do want to seriously consider spending the extra $50 dollars, you get Batch Processing, Catalog, Forms creation & JavaScript editing.

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About the Author: Karl De Abrew

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