General Software

First Look Review: Bluebeam Revu

27 Jun, 2006 By: Ron LaFon

Add-on to Bluebeam programs makes it easier, faster to mark up PDFs.

Bluebeam Revu
Pros: Easy to use; fast; great addition to Bluebeam's family of PDF products.
Cons: None significant.
Price: Included in all Bluebeam products.

Bluebeam Software
866.496.2140 or 626.296.2140

Bluebeam Software added Bluebeam Revu to its family of PDF-related products created specifically for the CAD and technical markets. Revu, which is included with all Bluebeam products such as Pushbutton Plus and Bluebeam Lite, lets users create, view and mark up designs in a PDF file.

When working with multiple PDF files, Revu displays file names in tabs so users can easily switch between open files. A Split View capability lets users display two different PDF files at once for comparison purposes or display different views of the same file -- a very useful feature. Additionally, users can display a thumbnail view of each page in a PDF document, and PDF files with bookmarks are automatically displayed in the Bookmark tab.

With Bluebeam's Revu, users can implement full mark-up capabilities. On the left is the Toolchest, showing a custom set of tools. Users can select their most commonly used tools to store in this area. On the right, properties of the selected mark-up display, allowing users to easily change features such as color, line width and font.

Other maintenance functions in Revu let users insert, reorder and delete pages and replace selected pages in a PDF file. Users can combine multiple PDF files into a single file and e-mail files with a single click.

In addition to its housekeeping capabilities, Bluebeam Revu offers flexible mark-up capabilities. From the Markup Properties dialog box you can change the color, line width, opacity, font and style of each mark-up. Mark-ups are displayed in a list that users can sort and filter by a number of criteria, including mark-up, author, date and color. From the Markups list, users can import mark-ups from other PDF files, search for keywords and export the mark-up list.

Another useful feature creates a new revision level each time a user saves mark-ups in a PDF file, so users can revert to previous revision levels as needed. Using the Publish function saves mark-ups in the PDF file without the revision history.

Other features include the ability to measure length, area, perimeter, diameter and angles in a PDF file. Users can also manage password protection to set permissions for printing, copying and changing the PDF file.

For our evaluation, we received a copy of Bluebeam Pushbutton Plus v4 for AutoCAD, which included Bluebeam Revu. Installation was straight-forward, with the installation program asking us to select the appropriate application -- in this case, AutoCAD 2007. To use the program with other supported applications, such as Microsoft Office applications or SolidWorks, users can add support for them after installation, using the included Bluebeam Administrator. A separate license is required for the SolidWorks plugin.

The Administrator also lets users control a number of options, such as supported AutoCAD page sizes and printers. Also included are a number of utilities, including the Bluebeam Stamp Editor for creating and editing text stamps, Bluebeam Stapler for combining PDF files and a Bluebeam FTP client. These can be called individually from the menu group or from within Revu.

Program installation created a toolbar and top-level pull-down menu in AutoCAD 2007 and Microsoft Office applications. I also added support for SolidWorks 2006 without any difficulty. Performance was speedy, and Revu lived up to its promise in simplifying many PDF-related processes as well as providing useful and flexible mark-up capabilities.

Because Bluebeam Revu is not a stand-alone program, but rather a supplement to existing Bluebeam solutions, no specific pricing applies. From the Bluebeam Web site, download time-limited demo versions of products that include Bluebeam Revu, such as Bluebeam Pushbutton Plus for AutoCAD with Revu, Bluebeam Pushbutton Plus for SolidWorks with Revu, Bluebeam Lite for CAD users with Revu and Bluebeam Lite for Office users with Revu. A number of licensing options are available for these products. System requirements depend on the primary product used. At the Bluebeam site, you'll also find an interactive tour of Revu that shows its features, as well as links to a number of tutorials.

Bluebeam Revu is a handy and capable addition to Bluebeam's desktop products, adding many useful features and simplifying the process of working with and marking up PDF files -- especially in CAD and engineering environments.

About the Author: Ron LaFon

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