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Software Review: Adobe Master Collection – Adobe Acrobat Pro CS4 and Adobe Acrobat Pro Extended From Adobe Systems

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This is the eleventh in a series of reviews that will cover what is contained in the Adobe Creative Suite 4 (CS4) Master Collection. When Adobe released CS4 this past fall, they not only released single version products, but also six separate suites of products. They are Design Premium, Design Standard, Web Premium, Web Standard, Production Premium, and Master Collection. You can go online to compare what is contained in each version. The goal of this series it to define what each product does and provide information of what the new version brings to the table.

One note, Adobe Acrobat Pro Extended is not included in Adobe Creative Suite 4. It is a standalone product. Adobe Acrobat Pro CS4 is part of the suite. Since much of what is contained in this review is also part of Adobe Acrobat Pro, I am including it here, but I will break out the extended features separately from the rest.

What do you need to run Adobe Acrobat Pro Extended?

  • Windows XP SP2 or Vista; Mac OS X v10.4.11 – 10.5 (Leopard)
  • 1.3 GHz or faster processor, PowerPC® G4 or G5 or multicore Intel processor
  • 256MB RAM (512MB for Pro Extended)
  • 1024×768 resolution screen
  • 2.13GB hard drive space
  • video hardware acceleration for Pro Extended is recommended

Adobe Acrobat Pro ExtendedSo what is new with Adobe Acrobat Pro CS4?

• Acrobat.com is a free set of online services that you can use to store and share your documents online from anywhere. When you sign up, you gain access to a set of hosted servers where you can keep your documents available from anywhere. ConnectNow is part of Acrobat.com and it will let you communicate between two or three people online, all for free.

• PDF Portfolios give you the ability to create and deliver high-impact communications to peers, partners, and customers worldwide. These portfolios set a new standard fro delivering a range of information, video, forms, and files within a single package. You can select from several PDF Portfolio layouts to grab the attention of your audience. You can include logos, Word and Excel files, video, Flash content, 3D models, and even folders of additional assets.

• Shared Document Reviews gives you the ability to initiate a shared review of a PDF document, pass it around to participants to review, and enable participants to see and build upon other reviewers' comments. These can be sorted by author, date, or page. Using the form Tracker, you can monitor progress and participation, and even send reminders.

• Video can now be inserted into PDF files for direct playback in Acrobat and Adobe Reader. It can be FLV or H.264, and you can even comment on the video using any of the markup tools to add feedback on specific frames.

• Forms Edit Mode simplifies the creation of a fillable PDF from existing documents or paper. You can either create a form by hand or you can convert Microsoft Word and Excel documents, or scanned forms to PDF forms that are ready to be filled out. You can then upload to a shared location or to Acrobat.com and distribute it to the appropriate recipients.

Adobe Acrobat Pro Extended• 256-bit encryption is now supported to give you even more security. Users can add two types of encryption to a document: password encryption or certification encryption. Password encryption lets users assign a password and specify security options to restrict opening, printing, and editing PDF files. Certification encryption encrypts a document so that only a specified set of users can access it.

• Synchronize document views will help colleagues, clients, and partners co-navigate documents at the same time. By using Acrobat.com you can provide clarity and enhance discussion, as well as enable collaboration on a PDF file. Then distribute the PDF file and walk recipients through it in real-time by controlling the page view they see.

• Compare two PDF documents with text and image differences highlighted. By automatically highlight the differences between two versions of a PDF document, including text and images, so you can quickly and easily identify what has changed.

So what is new with Adobe Acrobat Pro Extended?

• Convert a variety of video formats to Flash for seamless playback without the need for a special media player. New, native support for Adobe Flash enables reliable, cross-platform sharing of video, animations, and applications in Acrobat and Adobe Reader.

• Adobe Presenter is the rich media authoring tool that will let you create professional, high-quality, on-demand presentations and publish them to a single PDF file that anyone with the free Adobe Reader can play. You can include audio, video, and interactive quizzes.

• Includes Adobe 3D Reviewer to combine multiple CAD formats into one assembly and save as PDF. You can then compare a revised design to an earlier version, measure and section on precise geometry, and create exploded views, animations, and balloons and even export your work to 2D vector or raster files, or save as PDF.

• Create PDF maps by importing geospatial files that retain metadata and coordinates to create PDF maps that can be searched, measured, and marked up with Acrobat or Adobe Reader. Discover the longitude and latitude by placing your cursor over a location. You can even measure PDF maps in real-world units.

Adobe Acrobat Pro ExtendedThis is a very significant upgrade for the Acrobat product line. For the first time, a PDF is truly multimedia savvy. With the addition of embedded video capability, users of even the free Acrobat Reader can watch videos from right in their PDF files.

If that weren't enough, then we have the increased security via the 256-bit encryption, the dynamic mapping, much better forms capability, and the online collaboration using Acrobat.com to store and work with documents anywhere, anytime.

You also get Adobe Presenter for creating dynamic presentations. When you add them all together and put them into a portfolio then you have an incredibly strong product that you can deliver dynamic multimedia experiences as never before.

If you need to present information to clients in a way that will wow them, if you want to embed video, audio, and other rich media files into a PDF, then Adobe Acrobat Pro Extended is the only way to go. It takes the PDF to such a new level, that I very highly recommend it as a must have upgrade.

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About T. Michael Testi

Photographer, writer, software engineer, educator, and maker of fine images.