REVIEW: Acrobat 9 Pro Extended And The Power of Flash

PDF in 3D

Acrobat 9 Pro Extended 3D

3D objects can be viewed and manipulated in PDFs. Click the image for a larger view.

As I mentioned earlier, Acrobat has had 3D tools for a couple versions now so the tools have had time to mature. Acrobat 9 supports a wide range of 3D file formats (3DS, U3D, SolidWorks formats and more) and Pro Extended can add 3D models from any of these file formats. In contrast, Acrobat 9 Pro can only add models from U3D ECMA 1 files. Moreover, Acrobat 9 Pro is limited to what it can do with 3D of any kind:

  • Add 3D models (U3D only)
  • Move, delete and/or resize 3D canvases
  • Interact with 3D models: change views, lighting, camera properties and more
  • Handle 3D models: create cross-sections, measure lengths and comment on various views

Acrobat 9 Pro Extended can do all that and a good deal more. Here are functions exclusive to Pro Extended:

  • Add 3D models from many more file formats
  • Convert 3D files into PDFs with the PRC or U3D conversion format and control conversion settings
  • Create 3D PDF templates in Microsoft Office applications
  • Save conversion presets for 3D files
  • Convert large 3D assemblies
  • Capture 3D models in position. Note that Acrobat 9 Pro Extended ships with a Capture Utility for use on the UNIX operating system.
  • Insert 3D models in Microsoft Office applications
  • Use the included Adobe 3D Reviewer application to merge CAD files, compare and measure geometry, move and delete parts, animate, create exploded views and export to raster and vector files.
  • View the Product Manufacturing Information (PMI) of CAD files
  • Export 3D geometry for use in CAD and CAE applications
  • Add JavaScripts to a 3D model to create animations, alter view modes or let users interact with the model

I use Strata 3D CX 5 for my 3D work, and it was very easy to bring my 3D models into Acrobat 9 Pro Extended. The native S3D is not one of Acrobat’s supported file formats but I converted to VRML and it imported with no problem.

Like I mentioned earlier, Acrobat had 3D tools in its last version. Two years ago I first saw the 3D features in Acrobat 8 Professional and I was thoroughly impressed, but I have to admit that since then I have never had a need to create a PDF with 3D models. The need just hasn’t come up in my work. Designers for print and the web probably have as little need for 3D tools as I do. However, that’s not to say other designers don’t need these tools—I’m sure Adobe created Acrobat 3D because their 3D customer market clamored for it. If you’re one of those customers, you’ll appreciate what you can do with 3D in Acrobat 9 Pro Extended.