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There are lots of ways to collaborate over the Internet, but Acrobat Pro 9 brings everyone together right inside document windows.
Today we can almost live the dream of a paperless office, but we’re definitely not pining for a world without PDFs. Neither is Adobe. Acrobat Pro 9’s new features help you build documents that are more flexible than ever, moving PDFs beyond print and emphasizing new workflow tools. However, Acrobat Pro’s value depends not only on what you do with PDFs, but how you make them.
Collaboration gets a big push in Acrobat Pro 9. The Shared Review feature lets you upload PDFs to an internal server or to the new Acrobat.com website and invite reviewers anywhere to make edits and comments in a browser or the latest versions of Acrobat or Adobe Reader. Reviews aren’t real-time—comments and edits must be manually uploaded—but they aren’t bound to a single session. Reviewers can check for new comments and add their own any time they open a PDF marked for review. Collaborate Live lets participants use Acrobat Pro’s ConnectNow utility to share their screens through Acrobat.com while accessing chat, webcam, file-sharing, and whiteboard features—all in just a few windows. ConnectNow’s design is a little clunky, but it’s intuitive enough that most users will be up and running quickly. Running a Shared Review session that’s broadcast with Collaborate Live is an easy and powerful way to get a team working together—not to mention being literally on the same page.
Of course, there are plenty of things to do when meetings are over. PDF forms can now be distributed through Acrobat.com, and collected data is delivered straight to Acrobat Pro. The LiveCycle Designer form-design app isn’t included with the Mac version of Acrobat Pro, but a new Form Wizard makes creating forms pretty easy—except for the lack of keyboard commands for its editing tools. Finished PDFs (and many other document types) can now be collected into PDF Portfolios: PDFs that combine multiple documents in a customizable DVD-like interface while retaining all the original files’ properties. It’s a professional-looking way to share information without mashing everything into a PowerPoint presentation, but the templates and design tools are uninspiring. If you don’t feel like sharing, Acrobat Pro adds 256-bit encryption to its security toolkit. Support for viewing 3D models in PDFs, making PDFs from websites, preflighting new standards like PDF/E, and—finally!—the ability to embed Flash and H.264 video round out the feature-set.If you create PDFs collaboratively, Acrobat Pro 9 is worth a serious look. But those happy with their current workflow should evaluate the new features to see if they really need to take the plunge.