Toybox: Acrobat 9 updates the PDF

One of the top features is the integration of Flash

Some people have criticised Adobe Acrobat for being slow and old-fashioned, and for not keeping up with today’s fast-moving internet age. But, the release of Acrobat 9 could put an end to such criticism.

Adobe sent Computerworld a copy of Acrobat 9 Pro to test. Installing it on my MacBook took only took a few minutes — a good start.

One of the first things that struck me was that Acrobat 9 merges PDF and Flash. Previous versions of Acrobat supported the embedding of SWF (Shockwave Flash) content, but users would have had to install the Flash player separately. Adobe acquired the original developer of Flash, Macromedia, in 2005, and is now able to integrate the Flash player into Adobe Reader — definitely a plus.

Another benefit is that Acrobat 9 Pro integrates with acrobat.com, where users can store and share PDF files. It also enables real-time collaboration of PDFs, via synchronised document views and chat. Very Web 2.0.

Capturing web content is made easier by allowing users to create a PDF of an entire web page or just certain parts of it.

Another handy feature is the easy way Acrobat 9 has with portfolio creation. Simply drag and drop files into the Edit Portfolio window and choose a layout from a list of templates. You can then customise the portfolio by choosing a colour scheme, a welcome page and other additions. You can also create your own custom layouts by using Flash and Flex.

Acrobat 9 Pro also has an enhanced ability to detect the differences between two versions of a PDF document, by highlighting and adding notes to all changes.

Another cool feature is the redaction tool, which allows you to seek and, permanently, delete sensitive information. While on the subject of security, optional password protection restricts the way readers can use a document. Restrictions can be set on the ability to, for example, edit, copy and print.

Overall, the Pro package provides an easy way to produce professional-looking, and secure, PDFs for a range of applications.

The only real setback is that the software takes up over 1GB of space.

Pricing is also on the hefty side — Acrobat 9 Pro will set you back $949.99, including GST. An upgrade to Pro costs $349.99. Other options include the standard Acrobat 9, for $599.99, or the full-whack Acrobat 9 Pro Extended — which adds further video, 3D and mapping functionality — for $1,449.99.

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