Adobe Acrobat 8

It’s been announced, and now I’m trying to decide if it’s worth the upgrade from Acrobat Pro 7 for me.

I use Acrobat to create PDFs that others can comment/edit on in Reader and send back to me.

Here’s the process:

  1. I work on the file in InDesign CS 2
  2. When ready, I export to PDF from within InDesign CS 2
  3. I switch to Acrobat 7 and click the “Send for Review” button, select the name of the file, click the people who should receive the file, type in a message and hit “send”
  4. Mail (in OS X) opens with the file attached, and I send it out to everyone
  5. When the comments start coming back in, I open the PDF and then I have to go through and make the corrections one-at-a-time, bouncing back and forth between Acrobat and InDesign
  6. When all comments have been collected and incorporated into the document, Repeat from step 2 until final approval

Folks sometimes complain that the editing tools are awkward. But it’s better than sending an email with instructions like, “On page 2, paragraph 3, change the word ‘up’ to ‘down’”

So now Acrobat 8 is on the horizon. The big changes (or at least the ones I’m paying attention to) include:

  • A new PDF package thing. You can combine multiple documents into a single package, so when you open one file you see the other documents in a left hand panel. Eh. Not sure anyone I work with would care.
  • Online collaboration, called Acrobat Connect, thanks to Adobe’s acquisition of Macromedia and their Breeze application. I do really like this…and any Breeze meeting I’ve ever attended has been a good experience. But the price…ouch…we’re too small for this. We can’t swing $400 a year per user. Oh well.
  • Form features. You can take a standard PDF that looks like a form and turn it into a real form that people can fill out and save so they can send it to you in Reader 8. Interesting. We’d use this. I’d check this in the “good reason to upgrade” column.
  • The big thing that would help my workflow is that I could host these review files on our local website, and that way everyone can see everyone’s changes instead of waiting until I combine them and send out a new file. Another positive.
  • Archive Microsoft Outlook e-mail in PDF – I’d be grabbing my credit card right now for that alone, but alas, my Acrobat license is for the Mac version, and this is a Windows-only feature (obviously). Oh well.

So is it worth $159 for the forms and slight improvement in collaboration tools? Not sure. I’m keeping my fingers crossed that the next version of InDesign will have PDF review features built right in. I’m definitely there if I can send an editable PDF right from InDesign, and then open a list of the changes/edits in a palette and click through them right there. A colleague of mine had no idea that I had to manually make these changes…she thought I could just click an “Accept Change” button like we do in Word. Don’t I wish.

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