Adobe's Acrobat 3.0 performs new tricks on the Web

Hoping to bring Acrobat out of the publishing niche and into mainstream computing, Adobe Systems has announced an upgrade to its document-sharing software that features Internet integration.

Acrobat 3.0, which is scheduled for commercial availability at the end of August, features enhancements to its Portable Document Format (PDF) that allows files saved in this format to be accessed across the Internet, says Alan Williams, Adobe's business development manager.

The company has also announced that it is developing an Acrobat Reader plug-in for Netscape's Navigator and an ActiveX control for Microsoft's Internet Explorer so that users of the World Wide Web browsers will be able to view and search on PDF files located on a Web server.

To prevent degradation of PDF files accessed over the Internet, Acrobat 3.0 will perform progressive rendering of pages so that text is rendered first, followed by hypertext links, images, and then embedded fonts, Williams says.

Version 3.0 also lets users put paper documents on the Web with its Acrobat Capture plug-in that converts scanned images into PDF documents. This plug-in uses optical character recognition and document imaging to turn scanned-in bitmaps into PDF files while preserving the documents format, text, and graphics, Williams says.

This new feature will let users publish to the Web any type of document, paper or electronic, created in any file format, Williams says.

"You don't have to know about creating HTML, you don't have to learn existing file formats, and you don't have to recreate the content to put documents on-line," he says.

Interactive forms are also included with this version so that information stored in PDF files can be structured using text fields, list boxes, radio buttons, and check boxes. The upgrade also features dynamic controls that let users add live areas to their PDF files that play audio clips and perform navigational functions, such as moving up or down a screen.

Acrobat 3.0 will ship in August for Windows 3.1, Windows 95, Windows NT, and MacOS and will be priced at US$295. Versions for OS/2, Solaris, SunOS, HP/UX, and AIX will follow in September and will carry the same price tag.

Acrobat Reader software for all of the above operating systems will be available for free download in August.

Adobe is at http://www.adobe.com/.

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