The Portable Document Format, PDF to its friends, has arguably been Adobe’s finest gift to the computing world. Yet now that its PDF creation package, Acrobat, has reached the seventh incarnation in its comparably brief life-span, the argument runs that there are only so many more improvements that the firm can make to the software.
Wrong. For Acrobat 7 Professional – in fact, the whole Acrobat 7 family – is one of the few products that can genuinely justify moving up from the previous version. And there are several reasons why. The first, which will hit any seasoned Acrobat user, is speed. Make no mistake here, Acrobat 7 is noticeably faster than its predecessors, both in the creation of and reading of PDF files.
Then there’s the fact that program integrates exceptionally well with other applications. As you’d expect, it’s particularly happy with Adobe’s own Creative Suite of products, but credit too goes to the number of other applications and file formats it happily deals with. You can simply right-click on a file in Windows Explorer, for instance, and options appear with supported file types that not only allow you to convert a file to PDF, but also to combine it with several other files into one single document.
That may not be the most sophisticated feature in the world, and the software is packed with many that are far more impressive. But nonetheless, it leads to an important point. Not only is Acrobat 7 a faster beast than before, it’s also far more user-friendly. The interface is a good deal easier to work with and key features are rarely more than one or two clicks away.
The program’s Organizer feature is worthy of mention, as it’s another good example of the product’s overriding friendliness. The Organizer allows you to get instant thumbnail views of PDF files on your system, with options to sort files into collections, to retrieve them via their creation date (the program will list all PDFs made in the last three months, for instance) or you can hunt them down by the traditional navigation of drives and folders. The thumbnails in particular we found to be a real help.
The software itself comes in two main flavours. The Standard edition will suffice for the majority of users, as its focus is on everyday tools and applications such as e-mail, office documents and Web pages. You can also create PDFs from several sources, and the likes of hyperlinks are supported. The target audience of this Standard edition appears to be small businesses, and they’re unlikely to be disappointed.
The Professional version, meanwhile, deals with more sophisticated packages such as AutoCAD, and it works with far more specialised output and complex files. It also allows, amongst its other additions, for you to send copies of PDFs via e-mail, with the option for the person on the receiving end to add comments via simple-to-use options.
Inevitably, a review such as this has barely scraped the surface of what is a sophisticated and comprehensive application. There are features such as XML support and enhanced security that we could happily use to heap further praise on the product. Our only grumble of real note, in fact, was the fussy installation process that didn’t work properly first time around. However, we did get there at the second attempt, and didn’t have a peep of complaint out of the program after that.
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