Magazine article Information Today

Adobe Revamps Acrobat Family. (Focus on Publishing)

Magazine article Information Today

Adobe Revamps Acrobat Family. (Focus on Publishing)

Article excerpt

In April, Adobe Systems officially announced its revamping of the Acrobat family of products--an event considered by some as the most important release since Acrobat 1.0. According to the industry newsletter Seybold Report, "Acrobat 6.0 will give (the publishing community) a selection of functions like they have never seen before, functions that will greatly simplify many production processes."

As anticipated, Adobe is segmenting Acrobat into three distinctly separate products: Acrobat 6.0 Elements, Acrobat 6.0 Standard, and Acrobat 6.0 Professional. These new versions of the Acrobat family were slated to ship in May. The breaking up of Acrobat into three separate products is designed to better meet customer needs. Adobe Acrobat Reader is undergoing a minor name change to Adobe Reader, and Adobe says that it has distributed more than a half-billion copies of the original Adobe Acrobat Reader since its 1993 introduction.

Acrobat 6.0 Elements is a stripped-down version of Acrobat 6.0 Standard. It'll be made available as a volume-license-only product, beginning at $28 per seat for a 1,000-seat license. This product does plain-vanilla PDF creation out of Microsoft Office applications and does not support plug-ins. However, with the Adobe Web site claiming that over 70 percent of PDFs are now being created directly from the Office suite, these are probably the tools that meet the needs of the many. Regrettably, with licensing for 1,000-plus, it's also the tool for the many and not the one. Maybe Adobe hopes that this product will become so compelling that eventually it will be licensed to computer manufacturers to ship out with newly built PCs.

Easy and Cheap PDF

The ability to create PDF easily (and cheaply, when compared to purchasing full-blown Acrobat) is going to really ramp up the amount of PDF that will circulate under our virtual feet. Because Acrobat 6.0 Elements attaches itself to other programs, creating a PDF file is as easy as printing a file. So if you want to send a file in MS Outlook, all you have to do is click on the "attach as PDF" button and the file transformation will occur without having to open an Acrobat program.

Acrobat 6.0 Elements is not the replacement for Adobe Reader (a new name that curiously parallels Microsoft Reader's). Adobe Reader has undergone a minor facelift, which now combines the capabilities of the original PDF viewer with the interface of Adobe eBook Reader, a later-developed and easier-to-use e-book product. Adobe Reader will remain a free product and was expected to ship by the end of May.

Adobe Reader is moving into new terrain and will support numerous desktop and mobile device platforms, including Photoshop Album slide shows, e-books, and embedded multimedia. There are new features in Acrobat 6.0 and Reader 6.0 that are aimed to improve document accessibility. These products will synthesize text from PDF files to speech (in either Windows or Mac), thereby providing audio access to PDF files. Adobe has also worked with assistive technology vendors such as Dolphin Computer Access and Freedom Scientific to offer a full-functioning reading experience. However, PDF files will need to be tagged to assist screen-reader users with such matters as the meaning of graphics. …

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