Adobe – Acrobat 5.0 review

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Adobe’s PDF (portable document format) is a compact and efficient way of distributing product specifications, brochures and other formatted documents. It’s convenient because the file size is kept to a minimum, relatively complex page formatting is supported and the document can be viewed ‘inline’ when using newer Web browsers. To create PDF files you’ll either need a plug-in for a DTP/graphics package, a third-party file conversion tool or this, the latest suite of PDF tools direct from Adobe.

Acrobat 5.0 is targeted mainly at businesses looking to distribute information across multiple platforms in a common format and style, including Web developers. This latest version adds enhanced security and copy protection, including 128-bit encryption based on user-specified passwords. You can control the type of access allowed to your PDF documents, too, by disabling printing, restricting the editing of comments or requiring login for specific elements.

The ability to review, edit, comment upon and sign documents over the Web, via ODBC, is likely to appeal to business managers, while developers will be interested in the ability to create interactive electronic forms with pre-submission content verification. These can be built into a Web site to save messing around with JavaScript validation routines and they’re compliant with XML so there should be no problems handling the data generated.

Also new in this version is improved extraction of text (which can be exported in RTF) and graphics images from the PDF file, which means that people can – if you let them – extract the contents of your PDF files and use it elsewhere. You can create further functions using the built-in JavaScript editor, and there’s a useful batch-processor too.

The Distiller tool, which converts PostScript files into PDF format, is present in this latest package, as is the option to import the contents of a Web site – you decide the depth of links imported and other factors – and store it as a PDF file. This could be useful if you want to keep track of site changes over a period of time (for live sites only).

Company: Adobe

Contact: 020 8606 4001


Verdict
Acrobat 5.0 has some potentially appealing features for developers and business managers. If you're distributing content, be aware that the output from this program requires that users have Acrobat Reader 4.0 or (for encrypted files) Acrobat Reader 5.0, so it should be used only where an installed base of those tools is likely.