Adobe Acrobat 7 review
One of the most common and most important uses for both Acrobat Standard and Professional is commenting on a central PDF sent out for review via email or the Web. The commenting process is still unnecessarily complicated, but Acrobat 7 makes life a little easier with its dedicated Comments menu and enhanced Help section – there are new features such as better text selection, the ability to paste in comments from the Clipboard, and a new Stamps palette. It’s also easier to initiate a review with a new step-by-step wizard that walks you through specifying a file, inviting reviewers and previewing the invitation.
But by far the biggest change, and available only for Acrobat Professional users (as is everything from here on in), is the ability to invite users of the free Adobe Reader 7 to take part in the review process. When Reader users open the resulting ‘intelligent’ PDF, a message alerts them to the new Commenting toolbar with which they can annotate the document. When that’s done, they can hit the Send Comments command and a small file containing just their comments is emailed back to the author, who can then collect all suggested changes back into the original file. If your office workgroup is closed, or already standardised on Acrobat 6, there’s little benefit to the new system, but for more open workflows, such as designers working for clients, this ability to include anyone in the review process is a huge advance.
Not surprisingly, designers of all sorts are a major target audience for Adobe, and Acrobat Professional is particularly well-suited for technical work. Producing, sending, viewing and commenting on large-scale layered PDF drawings is much easier than doing the same via print. With the latest release, AutoCAD users can now create a single PDF from multiple layouts, embed the original scale and import PDF comments back into the original file. Also useful are the new Callout and enhanced Measurement tools, and the fact that new windows can be opened onto the same file, and different sections of oversized pages viewed simultaneously.
There’s even more power available for graphic designers with a new Print Production toolbar and submenu. Previously, Acrobat 6 Professional highlighted potential press problems via its extensive pre-flighting capabilities. With version 7, most common problems, such as near-invisible hairlines, missing printers’ marks and, crucially, RGB images within documents destined for CMYK output, can all be fixed directly within the PDF. In addition, the Output Preview for viewing onscreen separations has been enhanced to highlight potential gamut, ink coverage and overprinting issues, and also offers access to the Adobe standard Ink Manager, which can be used for converting spot colours to process. It’s great news for output bureaux, which will be able to make last-minute changes to avoid expensive mistakes. All the same, designers are better advised to preflight, and then go back to fix problems in the originating application.
With its new pre-press handling, Acrobat 7 Professional includes all the features that were previously provided by Adobe’s Mac-only InProduction suite. Significantly, it also includes the previously standalone Adobe Form Designer, now renamed Adobe Designer 7. At its simplest, Designer provides a wizard that walks you through setting up a form based on a blank sheet, an existing PDF or a preset template (strongly recommended). You can then drag on elements such as text fields, option boxes and drop-downs from the Library palette, customise them with the Object palette and use the PDF Preview tab to see what the finished form will look like. When a user opens the resulting intelligence-enabled PDF within Adobe Reader 7, they’ll be prompted to fill in the form onscreen and then email back just the form data. This can then be imported back into the PDF original in much the same way as comments.
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