REVIEW: Acrobat 9 Pro Extended And The Power of Flash

Acrobat 9 Pro Extended small box

I was excited when I first heard Adobe Acrobat 9 Pro was being released, but along the way I noticed some box art for a different version: Acrobat 9 Pro Extended. This excited me even more because I like playing with toys and I figured, whatever Acrobat 9 Pro can do, Pro Extended can do better. Imagine this Mac user’s dismay when he learned Acrobat 9 Pro Extended is for Windows only! It was a disappointment, but Macs nowadays have Intel chips and can handle the Windows OS, so I fired up Parallels Desktop and got my copy of Acrobat 9 Pro Extended.

As usual, Acrobat 9 Pro Extended has all the features of its less powerful siblings (click here for a chart showing which features are offered in which products) and it also has a few special extras. Samuel John Klein is covering the review of Acrobat 9 Pro, so I’m going to stick with features specific to Pro Extended and take a look at just who they benefit and whether they’re worth the extra US$250.

Who needs it?

The first thing to make clear is this: the features in Acrobat 9 Pro Extended serve a specific segment of the PDF market. Consider another Adobe “extended” product, Photoshop CS3 Extended, which is different than Photoshop CS3 Standard only because of some features that serve specific users such as the medical community. In the case of Acrobat 9 Pro Extended, this includes only three kinds of professionals:

  • Those who need to work with geospatially-enabled PDFs
  • Creators of 3D and CAD content
  • Multimedia and PowerPoint users

Some of the new features found in Acrobat 9 Pro Extended were originally in Acrobat 3D Version 8, a specialized product for 3D that was released with the Acrobat 8 family. Other features are now fair game only because Acrobat 9 has new integration with Flash technology. If you don’t belong in any of the three categories, do you need Acrobat 9 Pro Extended? I don’t see what you would get out of it. Moreover, the first two kinds of professionals have a relatively small niche in the creative professional market compared to the number of general designers out in the field. I think by far the largest segment Pro Extended will impact is the multimedia and PowerPoint user community, and Pro Extended will probably cause some significant ripples.

Geospatial PDFs

A “geospatial PDF” is a PDF mapped out with latitude and longitude coordinates so users can search for locations and measure distances and areas. It’s really very slick and intuitive to use. Acrobat 9 Pro users have all the geospatial tools except the Geospatial Registration Tool, which is used to create coordinates and is exclusive to Acrobat 9 Pro Extended. Let’s say you have a PDF of a map and know the latitude and longitude of 2–4 locations. Here’s what you do:

  1. Select Tools –> Analysis –> Geospatial Registration Tool.
  2. A wizard will appear to walk you through the process. You’ll name the map and specify the map boundaries either by using the page edges or drawing borders.
  3. Plot the points and input their latitude and longitude coordinates.
  4. Select the coordinate system and units.

Acrobat 9 Pro Extended geospatial map

Geospatial PDFs allow measurements of geographic regions and can plot points with latitude and longitude. Click the image for a larger and more detailed view.

Now Acrobat treats your map like a true map and can measure distances and areas with the Measuring Tool—normally this tool measures length and width, but when used on a geospatial area it will measure distance and area based on the units you specify. You can also find locations and mark them with sticky notes by typing in their coordinates, but note that you can’t use the regular Find field or Sticky Note Tool— you have to right-click the Geospatial Location Tool and select “Mark Location” or “Find a Location.” You can also copy coordinates to the clipboard in this manner.

The benefit of geospatial PDFs is the ability to map and plot points, distances and area, and it will be helpful for land developers, city governments, farmers and others who handle land and real estate.