PDF In-Depth

Christopher Smith on Adobe, Gore and eco-friendly PDF

March 15, 2007

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As an Adobe Certified Expert in Acrobat, Smith regularly provides consulting services and develops PDF implementation strategies for organizations large and small. A skilled communicator, Smith has delivered Acrobat training sessions to more than 5,000 attendees. Smith's many Acrobat books include Teach Yourself Adobe Acrobat in 24 Hours, Real World Adobe Acrobat and he is a contributing author and editor for the Adobe Acrobat Classroom in a Book for both versions 6 and 7. Under Smith's leadership, AGI Training has become the largest provider of PDF training services in North America , offering classroom training in six U.S. cities and customized training and curriculum development world-wide. Smith is actively involved in education outside of the world of PDF, and has served as an elected member of the School Board in his hometown in suburban Boston, Massachusetts, and currently serves as a board member of a private coeducational school.

We had a chance to catch up with AGI's Christopher Smith, director of the upcoming PDF 2007 conference, to find out the latest on this "must-PDF" conference and all that it will provide.

Planet PDF:What are you most excited about in regard to this year's conference as far as PDF innovations?

Christopher Smith, AGI: Adobe is clearly the 800-pound gorilla in the PDF space, and they have a lot of interesting things to discuss at this years conference. One items with the broadest appeal is Acrobat 8 and its enhancements for collaboration and sharing. There's also interest in Adobe's continued movement to support standardization of PDF. This is especially interesting to enterprise, education, and government users and goes beyond the ISO standardization. It includes Adobe's discussion of an XML implementation of the PDF syntax, something they call the Mars project.

I'm also hopeful that we'll hear more from Adobe about Apollo and how it will leverage PDF. There's great capabilities for developers to leverage PDF forms, document security, and other capabilities found in Acrobat. It will be interesting to see how developers may hook into Acrobat and Adobe Reader.

There continues to be great discussion about ways to enhance PDF print production workflows -- with third party tools such as those from Enfocus, along with enhancements to Acrobat, and automation. We see continued interest in automation and customization using JavaScript. There are a large number of users looking for server-based PDF solutions for creating, securing, and automating PDF workflows. This makes the server tools from third parties such as Global Graphics, activePDF, and Appligent of interest to the enterprise customers at the conference.

Planet PDF: Can you tell us about Al Gore and his appearance there? How are PDFs eco-friendly?

SMITH: Al Gore was a primary advocate of the paperwork reduction act, and pushed for the government to do more electronically. Without his push the U.S. government might still be printing millions of tax forms and budget documents that can now be found on-line. But he is more than an environmental advocate -- he's also plugged in to the world of media and high technology. He sits on the board of directors of Apple, is an advisor to Google, and is now an Academy Award winner.

But it would be useful for Adobe and the other PDF players to evaluate the positive environmental impact of PDF files. Reducing paper usage through electronic review and markup, for example, saves the energy required to harvest trees and produce paper. I'm sure many businesses would like to be able to quantify this. We've seen businesses shift to PDF for collaboration because it speeds their time to market and reduces courier expenses -- so the environmental benefit is icing on the cake. Adobe makes a big deal out of the eco-friendly nature of their offices, and there's no reason they shouldn't be touting the ecological benefits of electronic document distribution.

Planet PDF::PDFs are never boring and are changing the way the world works because...

SMITH: PDF is an open standard. But this isn't a recent development. Long before Adobe released the full PDF specification for ISO standardization, Adobe had been very open with the format -- unless you are Microsoft and try to incorporate PDF into Office -- but that's a discussion for another day. Adobe's general trend towards openness has allowed an ecosystem of developers to thrive, and has fostered innovation among these smaller developers. This is good for all types of users -- whether office users, engineers, or graphics professionals. The move towards standardization beyond the subsets such as prepress, archiving, and accessibility is a step in the right direction.

Planet PDF: What will this conference provide to the graphic and creative professionals that no other conference can?

SMITH: It's the first opportunity for users to get a look at the Creative Suite 3, which Adobe has announced they will unveil March 27. Many of the speakers have been busy working with the Creative Suite 3 applications, writing books and developing content. Conference attendees will be among the first to get an in-depth look at Creative Suite 3 and the ways it can benefit them in print, on-line, and with PDF.

The conference also brings together a unique mix of authors, experts, and luminaries from print, Web, PDF, and creative fields. Attendees get to hear from leaders at Disney, Google, Apple, Adobe, and more than 40 respected experts and authors who provide practical advice, inspiration, and insight into new technologies. The conference's intimate setting allows attendees to network with peers and fellow professionals from around the world at the many planned networking events.

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