Adobe Acrobat Pro XI review
New cloud-based features and efficiency improvements make this an essential upgrade
Most people know Acrobat through the free Adobe Reader application that lets you view PDFs across all major computing platforms. And with the latest reader offering advanced capabilities such as form filling, document signing and commenting, you might wonder what else the new Acrobat XI Pro offers to justify its hefty price tag.
The key difference between Reader and Pro (and the cheaper, £255 Acrobat Standard) is the ability to create PDFs. Between the standalone Distiller, the universal print driver, the ability to open and convert a wide range of files (including 3D and CAD), the built-in scanning and OCR capabilities and its range of integrated Office add-ons, which now offer improved content protection control, Acrobat XI Pro has all the bases covered.
The new features in this version start with a simpler, more powerful set of tools for combining files into a single PDF, including the option to load files directly from cloud providers such as SharePoint, Office 365 and Adobe’s own Acrobat.com. In Acrobat X, the focus was on producing high-impact, interactive “PDF portfolios”. With Flash no longer flavour of the month, however, this capability has been downplayed.
Form handling also sees a host of major improvements. Previously, you had to use the intimidating LiveCycle Designer to create forms, but you can now create forms from scratch or by customising templates using the friendlier FormsCentral. To benefit from this you have to sign up for Adobe’s online FormsCentral service, which offers a basic subscription for free, and this allows forms to be published as both distributed PDFs and centralised web forms, with responses automatically collected and accessible from the browser.
That’s not, though. Using the new Sign panel, typed, hand-drawn, image-based or certificate-based digital signatures can be quickly added to forms, and with the “Get others to sign” tab PDFs can be uploaded to EchoSign (offering free and paid subscriptions) for others to sign. After online signing, which doesn’t require an account, PDF copies are automatically emailed to relevant parties, and a backup copy stored centrally in your EchoSign account. Previously, getting documents and contracts printed, distributed, signed and agreed could take weeks; now it takes minutes.
By its nature, PDF is a fixed document format, but that doesn’t mean it has to be the end of the workflow as Acrobat’s extensive commenting and review capabilities demonstrate. Now, Acrobat XI Pro goes a stage further and lets you edit existing PDFs using the new Edit Text and Images tool. Particularly impressive is the way that Acrobat XI Pro can reflow paragraph text as you edit, although this does depend on the quality of the original PDF creator and the complexity of the layout.
Operating system support
|Operating system Linux supported?||no|
|Operating system Mac OS X supported?||yes|