Flash Combines With PDF In Acrobat 9

For Samuel John Klein’s story on Acrobat 9 Professional, click here. For the Acrobat 9 Pro press release story, click here.

The PDF and Flash standards might be Adobe’s two most ubiquitous and important standards in the world of creative communication: both are pretty much the constant standard what they do, PDF being the standard for digital documents and Flash for online media. Acrobat 9 Pro, announced today, combines the two in some impressive ways!

Introducing the PDF Portfolio

Acrobat 8 introduced the PDF Package, which was basically multiple PDF documents combined into one file. Acrobat 9 Pro takes it a step further with the PDF Portfolio, which can combine both static and dynamic content into a single document—think video, audio, web, animations, text and images in one file. Adobe is positioning this as a way for creative professionals like us to communicate with clients and introduce cross-media concepts in an engaging way, though once it becomes foolproof I think it will have much more important applications for regular folks, the kind who are already hooked on YouTube and other media.

Acro 9 cover flow

PDF Portfolios can display files within a “cover flow” sequence similar to what you see in iTunes or Mac OS X Leopard. Click to view larger.

The cool thing about PDF Portfolios is their interface, a Flash construction that will remind you a little of iTunes and OS X Leopard’s Cover Flow, and a little of Adobe Bridge. It’s yet another Adobe interface for digital asset management, which we have also seen in Bridge, Photoshop Express, Photoshop Elements and other products. Of course, what you will find in the PDF Portfolio is a totally different beast because it’s a way for the user to manage and present assets to customers and clients. Acrobat 9 Pro has tools and options for modifying the PDF Portfolio interface so it’s a unique experience, and since it’s all based on Flash and ActionScript 3, programmers can build new PDF Portfolio layouts with Flash CS3 Professional or Flex Builder, which is used for heavy-duty applications.

PDF Portfolios can also contain folders and subfolders, so if you are moving a group of documents together then the PDF Portfolio may be the ideal way to deliver them in an easy-to-follow way. Let’s say you are a designer and sending some files to the printer—fonts, images, instructions in a text file, plus the native files. You can send them in a group via FTP or e-mail, or you can use a simple PDF portfolio to help organize the files for easy access. The default PDF Portfolio design can also show your contact information so it’s easy for the press operator to get a hold of you in case there’s a question.

Making your own PDF Portfolios

As I mentioned earlier, a programmer can build their own PDF Portfolio design with Flash or Flex—but non-programmers have customization options too. When you create a PDF Portfolio, you are shown a portfolio window where you can add and remove files, select layouts (Acrobat 9 Pro ships with a few standard layouts), develop a color scheme, include a header with your own welcome message, and specify file details to show. The interface is fairly simple but works well—it reminds me of Lightroom’s interface for building slideshows and such. If you are not a programmer but still want to use some totally unique interface, something you can’t achieve with Acrobat’s portfolio controls, just wait because I can practically guarantee you that programmers out there will start posting their own templates before you know it.

Go to Page Two to see the PDF Portfolio customization process in action!