AEC Tech News #143

4 May, 2005 By: Michael Dakan

Cadalyst AEC Tech News

Acrobat 7.0 Learning Resources

Choose from Seminars in Many Cities, Online Information, Books and an Internet Newsletter

The release of Adobe Acrobat 7.0 seems to have sparked a lot of interest among the general population of computer users. It implements a significant number of revised and new features, especially in the Acrobat Professional version, such that the demand for information about the program and its many uses has increased. Acrobat is being used for a variety of purposes in a wide number of application areas. It's no longer considered a specialized program that is used for a single purpose: to create Adobe Acrobat PDF files for distribution and archiving.

A growing number of resources is available for learning and using the application, especially Acrobat Professional. The increased functionality of this version has opened up a wider range of potential uses in document publishing, Web design, workflow procedures and forms for use in database input and Internet feedback. Many of these applications may not have occurred as possibilities to many people who have used previous releases of the software.

More Than Just a PDF
I am among those who have used Acrobat for years for creating documents that maintain the fidelity of the original formatting and layout of pages that were created with a variety of authoring and design programs, but have not much considered its use for other purposes. I did do some consulting work with an architectural organization several years ago that had an individual on staff who used Acrobat extensively for presentation purposes. That person created PDF documents to do presentations containing text, images, diagrams, animations and sound that more typically were created using software such as Microsoft PowerPoint. That opened my eyes to the additional possibilities and versatility that's inherent in the program.

Acrobat 7.0 Professional also has improved support for CAD files and 3D information, making it even more useful in AEC organizations. Adobe is increasing its presence at professional events and conventions, such as the upcoming AIA 2005 National Convention in Las Vegas, to promote Acrobat to this market, so you'll find more information at these events.

New Learning Resources
Several resources are now available for you to explore and discover uses for Acrobat that perhaps you haven't considered before. Start with Adobe's Web site, where you can find white papers and case studies of organizations that are using Acrobat in a variety of ways. This is predominately marketing material, of course, but can still be valuable as a starting point for discovering uses for this new product.

Adobe's Web site also covers learning materials and online seminars designed to introduce various uses for Acrobat. Take a look at Adobe's ongoing list of events and seminars. Two upcoming seminars for Acrobat Professional are Protecting Sensitive Information on May 10 and Commenting, Markup and Review on May 16. The latter may be of particular interest to the AEC community now that Acrobat Professional allows you to create documents that any user of the free Adobe Reader 7.0 can mark up — presenting the possibility that clients or consultants who may not have the full version of Acrobat 7.0 can annotate review copies of documents. If you can't participate in the live seminar, check out the extensive archive of previously recorded presentations.

An increasing number of hard-copy books is available for Acrobat 7.0. I've never been overly impressed with Adobe's own Classroom in a Book series that I've owned in the past. I've generally considered them to be pretty basic, and it seems like I could seldom find information on techniques beyond those basics. I've not yet reviewed the most recent edition on Acrobat 7.0, so maybe it's better. You'll find an extensive number of books available in any well-stocked technical bookstore, though, from beginning level to advanced. You should try to look at them in person before buying to make sure that what you get is suitable for your needs.

Cadalyst will soon launch an e-mail newsletter, sponsored by Adobe, that promises tutorial-type information as well as tips from readers on the uses of Acrobat Professional 7.0 for engineering documents. The newsletter is scheduled to mail about once a month. Sign up now to receive your copy.