Slimp: Acrobat X Still King of PDF Tools

It’s been a while since I’ve reviewed a software product in this column. With the newest rendition of Adobe Acrobat, Acrobat X, on the market, it seems a shame not to let you know about this application that has taken such a hold on our industry.

For the past 15 years, I’ve been beta testing new versions of Acrobat. Some, like 9 Pro, were giant steps beyond what we’d seen before. Others, like 8 Pro, were improvements on previous versions, but not huge leaps. Acrobat X seems to fit into that last category. While the Acrobat interface has changed significantly, with many of the tools moved to a long panel on the right edge of the desktop, the functionality remains much like Acrobat 9 Pro.

Let me mention a couple of improvements in Acrobat X right off the bat. I really like some of the actions that are found under the File menu in Acrobat X. The user can convert a PDF to a very nice RTF or Word file with the click of a button. Most of the tools for saving and exporting PDF files, including PDF Optimizer, are now found under the file menu. This really makes sense for new users, while Acrobat veterans will need a little while to get used to the new locations.

Another benefit is speed. Acrobat X seems much quicker than previous versions. You don’t wait for much and, in our business, time is crucial. Print production and content tools are now found in a panel on the right edge of the desktop. At first, I found this annoying. Having used Acrobat since the earliest rendition, I’d finally figured out where everything was located. However, after using Acrobat X for a few weeks, I almost came to like the idea of having most of my tools in one easy-to-find location. If you’re already using Acrobat 9 Pro, it might be hard for me to convince you to move up to Acrobat X. Most of the functionality that designers have come to know exists pretty much as it was in Acrobat 9 Pro. However, if you have not moved up to Acrobat 9 Pro, I would suggest you make the leap to Acrobat X. There are just too many capabilities in Acrobat X that you won’t find in versions before 9 Pro. The ability to convert text to outlines is crucial. So is the Acrobat X’s Convert Color tool, which allows users to accomplish tasks like moving all black text to the black plate only.

The Actions Wizard in Acrobat X might also be something you come to lean on heavily. Converting PDF files to RTF and Microsoft Word documents is just one of the many actions that will come in quite handy. In my tests, the RTF files saved from Acrobat were incredibly accurate. Distiller hasn’t changed much from previous version. It is still the method of choice for creating quality PDF files and you’ll find that it hasn’t changed.

There are lots of free and less expensive applications for creating and editing PDF files. Simply put, none of them come close to offering the functionality of Acrobat X. With upgrades starting at $199 for users of Acrobat 7, 8 and 9, it just makes sense to keep the latest version of this crucial application on hand. Full versions of Acrobat X list at $450. For more information, visit www.

Industry Still Buzzing From Slimp Predictions

I’m still amazed at the amount of press generated by my statements concerning the future of our industry a few months ago. Several directors of national, regional and state associations have contacted me to tell me about impact these statements have had on their members. When I arrive at conferences, I’m often approached as soon as I enter the door by publishers wanting to let me know how my thoughts have impacted their businesses. Readers have sent columns from daily and weekly newspapers, as well as magazines, about the changes that have been made as a result of reading one of my columns.

Frankly, I’m a bit humbled by the thought that my words can impact an industry like that. Thanks for reading.

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