Acrobat Pro 9 Turns Powerful New Tricks

For Jeremy Schultz’s story on the PDF Portfolio feature of Acrobat 9 Professional, click here. For the Acrobat 9 Pro press release story, click here.

Adobe Acrobat is all new.

Well, actually, that’s not completely true. The Acrobat application you’ve known and loved to make and edit PDFs and share is still the same. But the new features that it includes will make it feel like a new application. We recently had the opportunity to seen the new Acrobat Pro 9 in action and we were very impressed. It’s got new approaches to PDF-based workflows – collaboration, sharing, comparing, and showing off – that show off a newly evolved Acrobat – an ever more interconnected and collaborative tool than Acrobat’s ever been before.

The new Acrobat Pro improves in three very important ways: Presentation, Participation, and Production.

Presentation: Your PDF Collection Is Now A Slick Portfolio

Perhaps the most immediate benefit the user can enjoy with Acrobat Pro 9 out of the box is the new PDF Portfolio. It will change the way you think of PDFs as a vehicle for content delivery.

The way things were done before you’d assemble a group of PDFs into a multi-page PDF binder in Acrobat, and that worked really well. But it was rather static and without flash, and who doesn’t want to wow someone with a portfolio (hands, anyone? Didn’t thinks so). Now, with PDF Portfolio, you have the flash … and you now have the Flash.

Acro 9 cover flow

One option for the front end of your PDF Portfolio – dynamic, Flash-based, fun to use, and slick. Very impressive. (illustration courtesy Adobe)

Creating a PDF Portfolio is rather simple … a single menu pulldown creates the empty portfolio, and adding files (or entire folders) to the portfolio is as simple as selecting … or even dragging-and-dropping. A simple click enables one of several display options, from a simple grid to a web-page style display on a background image to a sliding animated row. Flash navigation is easily understood and easily used.

The presentation bonanza doesn’t stop there, however. Going from this stage is a simple step to adding a customized welcome and header page that can contain a photo, custom text, or a movie file. Acrobat’s new grokking of Flash and movie files allow the user to include more than screengrabs … now FLV and SWF content can actually become part of the portfolio. The difference between the usual static collection of documents and lively content powered by video should be obvious, and the PDF Porfolio creation process makes it very nearly child’s-play.

Participation: New Ways To Play Well With Others

Acrobat has latterly provided ways to collaborate, gather, and share that have worked well. Acrobat Connect provides great ways to do a meeting, and this author himself has enjoyed the sheer convenience that PDF forms and digital signing provides.

With the new collaborative tools, though, Acrobat Pro 9 (if the reader will excuse the expression) kicks it up to the next level. Not only will you be able rendezvous as before, but now you’ll actually be able to show people exactly what you’re talking about. Before, telling someone to look at a certain spot on a document you’re collaborating or getting comments on over the phone or by email sounded rather much like a spouse giving their partner instruction on scratching their back.

Sometimes awkward? You bet.

The new Acrobat Pro 9 (and Reader 9) make it easy by synchronizing views. What this is is what it says; you’re discussing a document with collaborators, zeroing in on a document area of concern, and instead of giving directions to your colleagues, you are graphically showing them by zooming in on the content and having thier views match yours.

Feels better? We thought it would.

Improvied collaboration doesn’t stop there. Adobe have upped that game by enhancing the Tracker. You’ll now know who’s commented and have it all up in a central dashboard. You can have the review on a shared folder on your home machine or use the hosted services expected to be made available at Acrobat.com. Forms creation has been spiffed up as well. And an exciting new feature allows users to compare PDFs to see how many changes have occurred and who amongst the teams have made them, and what they were.

Production: The Power of the PDF Workflow

As Adobe have moved through the evolution of the Creative Suite, in the mere time passed since the first Creative Suite debuted, workflows industry-wide have seemed to begin depending on PDFs for output for press. The current range of PDF/X standards tailored for different needs only reinforce this impression. And Acrobat Pro 9 answers this need by improved production tools.

The Overprint Preview has been improved, with intelligence; it now works when needed, instead of having to be manually activated. The default is to automatically turn on whenever a PDF/X file is encountered, but this can be customized so that the so-called Intelligent Overprint Preview can work seamlessly in your workflow, whenever it’s needed.

New improved Output Preview allows the artist to view a wealth of file information (such as line art, anything not CMYK, line art, live as opposed to outlined text, number of Pantone spots) and identify potential trouble spots. Object Inspector allows the artist to get snoopy, finding detailed information on all objects below the selected point. Graphic resolution, color model, color profile, and as much as you can want to know about the objects in the document at the point unfold like a flower blossoming.

Once those spots have been found, the production artist can move into correcting them with ithe improved color conversion tool, which is infinitely customizable. You can also verify against PDF/X standards with a singile click and an information pane. Preflighting? The enhanced Acrobat Pro 9 preflighting is admirably thorough and includes an eye-glazing amount of fixups to correct preflight problems.

Those have been waiting for a PDF tool to begin to tie everything together under a solid PDF workflow may well have found what they are looking for in Acrobat Pro 9. From showing off to sharing around to fixing things, this new version will take your PDF workflow game about as far as you can make it go.

Adobe really hits it out of the park with this one.

For more information on Adobe Acrobat Pro 9, including upgrade paths and pricing as part of the Adobe Creative Suite 3.3, go to http://www.adobe.com/products/creativesuite/acrobatpro/. See also Jeremy Schultz’s publishing of the Acrobat Pro 9 announcement at this article here.