What's New in Acrobat 8 Professional

20 Sep, 2006 By: Michael Dakan

Upcoming version of Adobe's PDF software offers improved security, better performance with CAD files

On Monday, Adobe revealed plans for the next versions of Acrobat and the newly renamed Acrobat Connect, scheduled to ship in November.

When you open Adobe Acrobat 8 Professional, you’ll be greeted with the first UI (user interface) change you’ll encounter in this version. Instead of the blank Acrobat workspace with menus and a few toolbars, you’ll see a new control panel Start Up screen that will guide you to the logical starting place to accomplish most of the tasks you would want to do with Adobe Acrobat: Create a new PDF, edit or mark up an existing PDF, combine multiple files into one PDF and so forth.

This is just one of many UI changes and improvements you will find throughout the new version of Acrobat. The UI has been significantly improved to make the program more streamlined. Many functions have been assigned to new buttons that you can access with a single click, instead of having to make a selection from a menu and perhaps make several additional clicks to do what you want. Toolbars are customizable to suit your needs and preferences. Individually, many of these changes may seem relatively minor, but collectively they make the program much easier to learn and use, especially for new users.

New Functionality and Performance

Among the new features in version 8 is a new way to combine multiple documents into a PDF Package that maintains the complete integrity of the individual files. Inside the package, each file retains the file format of its original authoring program, if you choose not to convert them to PDF. In previous version of Acrobat, combining new files or removing one from a PDF would invalidate the digital signatures of files in the PDF because the overall PDF had been changed. Now, individual digitally signed PDF files can be combined in a package but can maintain the digital signature if you add or remove other portions of the package. There’s also a new master signature you can apply to a PDF Package in addition to preserving the digital signatures of individual files as necessary.

Performance enhancements abound throughout the Acrobat 8 family. For instance, creating a PDF in AutoCAD takes a fraction of the time it did in Acrobat 7.0, and there’s a direct conversion function for creating a PDF from a DWG file that doesn’t require the user to have AutoCAD. Users can also selectively strip out some normally embedded features from PDFs created from AutoCAD, such as scale information and metadata. You can selectively remove metadata from other file formats as well, to protect sensitive information.

New file optimization choices are available for creating PDFs optimized for their intended use, such as resolution of the PDF and embedded graphics, to keep file size as small as possible and still create PDFs that will satisfy their intended use. This can minimize trial-and-error adjustments of the various optimization settings.

As Adobe continues to add features to Acrobat that benefit users in the AEC field, you're sure to find more about this product in future editions of Cadalyst magazine and e-mail newsletters, including my tutorial series, Acrobat Insider for AEC Professionals (subscribe here).

Adobe Acrobat Connect

A major addition to the Acrobat 8 family is a very nice Web conferencing functionality that is accessible with a single click from inside every Acrobat 8 product, including the free Adobe Reader 8. Adobe Acrobat Connect 8 (previously known as Adobe Macromedia Breeze) is an extremely simple product to use, requiring no previous scheduling or setup nor software downloads. It provides a single personal meeting room with its own personal URL that is available 24/7 via your Internet connection.

Two versions are available: Acrobat Connect 8 and Acrobat Connect Professional. Acrobat Connect 8 is intended for personal or small-business use and can accommodate as many as 15 users at once in a meeting room. Meetings can take place on a prearranged date and time (for uses such as sales presentations or online training sessions) or on a the spur-of-the-moment (during a phone conversation, for example, when you need to be able to show someone what you are talking about). Acrobat Connect Professional is intended as a Web conference facility that can easily scale up to enterprise-level Web conferencing. It can include an unlimited number of private meeting rooms, each with its own private URL address and the ability to accommodate more than 15,000 users at once. This version also provides additional features such as VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol), recording of Web conferences for on-demand playback, audience polling, custom meeting room layouts and a Collaboration Builder SDK for creating custom Internet-based applications. Acrobat Connect Professional can be hosted on Adobe Web servers or installed on the user’s Web servers.

At $395 per year (or $39 monthly) for Adobe to host the Web meeting room, Acrobat Connect 8 costs less than a single plane ticket for an out-of-town meeting or on-site training session. So you can see that this outlay could be recovered many times over in the course of a year. Acrobat Connect Professional has a flexible pricing scheme to allow an organization to create as large a conferencing facility as needed, expandable as necessary to accommodate growth.

With the release of the Adobe Acrobat 8 family of products, Adobe enhances and further extends its objective of providing practical solutions for today’s needs for rapid communication and collaboration across barriers of geography, platforms and time. The addition of Acrobat Connect enables instantaneous, real-time communication and collaboration, also across all boundaries. I predict that the Adobe Acrobat 8 suite will maintain Acrobat’s enviable position in the marketplace.

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