Friday, September 29, 2006

Adobe Acrobat 8: One upgrade you won't want to skip!!

Acrobat will release yet another version this year bring the number of major releases to 8. Many people, including myself, start to wonder “what can be done in version 8 to warrant another major release?” with great skepticism. After all, don’t most people just use acrobat for making PDF’s? Well hold on to your seats! This release is major. Acrobat 8 is by far the largest single functional gain I have ever seen in any product release from one version to the next.

For starters – take a look at the welcome screen. The first two, “Create PDF” and “Combine Files” are not that compelling and have been done before, but the other six are very noteworthy. First – being able to “start a meeting” is something that seems foreign to Acrobat, but makes as much sense here as it does in Mac OS/X and Win 32. Think about it. You write documents to capture thoughts and share them with others. Why not have a live meeting (aka video phones of the future) to go over the ideas? When you click “Start meeting”, the menus give you options to connect to another group of people. You can screen share documents and presentations, set up a virtual meeting URL to communicate anytime, anywhere, set up a conference on the fly and much more with no software downloads for other participants. The meeting is given via a complimentary 90 day trial to Acrobat Connect (formerly the software known as Macromedia Breeze). Note – be sure to register your trial of purchased copy of Acrobat 8. You will get an email that provides free services as part of the package.

Another immensely cool thing is how Acrobat 8 integrates with Adobe LiveCycle Policy Server. Adobe has fully embraced the Software as a Service (SaaS) model (very web 2.0-ish). The hosted policy server allows you to place default policies on all documents you create. This gives you great control over the documents. You can revoke a document after distribution (Policy Server works with a new model of “persistent policy protection”). You can also audit and track who has read your document. No more “suspecting” your colleagues haven’t read your important documents – now you can tell for sure.

Another really cool feature is the ability to make any document into an electronic PDF form. This is far easier than in previous versions of Acrobat. There are automated wizards to help you make a form based on an existing form, existing document or from scratch.

Long and short – this is a killer upgrade. If you skipped 6 or 7, you will want to go right to Acrobat 8 Pro. It established Adobe as a serious player in the whole “web 2.0” movement (note that we still don’t know what “web 2.0” really means, but think it is cool).


  1. Like when can we get it or something...?

  2. Skip this upgrade and save $$$$, Does it still use a hell lot of ram?, yes it does and it take even more now thanks to the useless welcome screen.

    The true is the only thing I want acrobat to make is make pdf files and do it in the bg and use as less ram and cpu power. I do not want any meeting crap or 3 programs more running in the program and so on. Is it so hard to put out a acrobat lite for people like me that only want it to just make pdfs!!??

  3. Wow, Jack. I can't imagine thinking that the RAM consumption of a welcome screen is a deal breaker. I will agree that a simple PDF creator would be useful, but if you're the type of person that's so stingy with RAM, I would expect you to know about the many open source PDF creation programs that are designed to work without all the bloat.

  4. I can see his point though, why shouldn't there be an Adobe endorsed simple (free?) pdf writer. Give Microsoft enough time and they'll take over the "portable document" standard by force.

  5. While I'd like to be excited about it, I ain't. IIRC, the only two features on the "welcome" page that weren't in version 7 are "merge PDF files" and the newly-renamed Breeze. All the rest (forms, security, signing, comments) were in version 7.

    And it appears that you don't actually get Breeze with the upgrade. You just get a 90-day trial with the option to license it after that for $40 a month.

    $160 for a merge-PDF feature and a trial version of Breeze is a mite steep.

  6. Actually - we have a great product for people who want to do that. The online PDF creation uses none of your RAM and costs alomost nothing. Simply sign up for it at

    We actually have a service that still allows you to do policy protection too via the service. Adobe recognizes the value of SaaS and we are committed to meeting all stakeholders expectations where we can do so in a viable manner.

  7. I using at the moment still trial mode like I only needed it to cover two word files that some how to work with acrobat 7 on my system. And btw it got a merge function also

    But I think for $160 adobe can give a free year or two of use like you already buy there software!

  8. Whatever 'Web 2.0' might be, the collaboration aspects of PDf have been around for a long time. Except that Adobe have kept the server software really expensive. the trouble is there are enough banks and tax authorities to convince them that it is still not time to offer lower prices. In 7 it was possible with the Pro version to enable a PDf for comments. So a new option appears on the free Reader menu. (Reader is such a big download because it contains many functions of the full product except they are normally turned off..) Now in 8 the capability to save a form with data is also something you can enable. So maybe one copy of Pro per community is worthwhile.

    Meanwhile Adobe seem to think that Flash has a future in the enterprise. Their pricing is much more sensible. Even freebie server stuff. Acrobat Elements may be the low budget simple PDF creation people are asking for but there is a 1000 seat minimum, to be continued with 8 as I understand it. This is just silly so the clones have a useful contribution.


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