PDF In-Depth

Claudia McCue: First Impressions of Acrobat 7.0

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Dan Shea

Planet PDF Managing Editor Dan Shea first became involved with PDF while developing a back-end process for the conversion of paper books for a leading eBook provider. He joined the Planet PDF team as PDF Store Manager, catalyzing a period of unprecedented growth in the area,...  More


 

 
 

A seasoned professional speaker, the Principal of independent training provider Practicalia has been an active participant on expert panels around the US for years, but hasn't always walked this path. After previous stints in applied science, production art and film stripping, Claudia McCue "segued into being a trainer" after attending an inspiringly bad software class and resolving that there must be a better way.

These days, she describes herself as a graphic arts trainer and consultant whose role is "teaching designers and printers to understand each others' needs, so that they'll stop making each other miserable." Facilitating the graphic arts equivalent of world peace is a daunting task, but this erstwhile "chemistry major with artistic leanings" takes it all in stride.

When I approached Claudia about her first impressions of Adobe's major PDF software release, she was more than happy to oblige. The full text of the interview follows.

DAN SHEA, Planet PDF Associate Editor: In your opinion, what is the best thing about the new Acrobat 7.0 product family?

CLAUDIA MCCUE, Principal, Practicalia: That's a tough one: there are improvements across the board -- improved speed, refined interface, enhanced appeal to a wide audience, from architectural users to the graphic arts. If I have to pick just one aspect, it would be the greatly improved speed of launch and overall responsiveness.

SHEA: What are 2-3 cool features of the new releases (big or small)?

MCCUE:

  • Print Production Toolbar (especially the Ink Manager)
  • Enabling PDFs for Reader users to comment
  • Enabling Reader users to export and email form data

SHEA: With Acrobat 7.0 Professional, it will be possible to activate full commenting functionality for users of the free Reader on a per-document basis. This represents a major shift in Adobe's previous policy of not allowing changes to be saved in Reader. What impact do you think this will have on document review processes around the world?

MCCUE: I suppose it's a mixed blessing to provide more opportunities for more people to gripe :-) (In the olden days, we used to trim off excess white areas of contract proofs to discourage mark-up. Then some twit invented PostIt Notes...) I suspect that, initially, it will stall some sales of full Acrobat. But it may have the long-term effect of spurring interest in the full version, by forcing laggard users to download Reader 7.0, thus exposing them to extensive subliminal messages on the Adobe site.

SHEA: Do you think the activation of commenting functionality is something that Adobe will make available to 3rd-parties -- in other words, do you think that developers will be permitted to enable the enhanced functionality with plug-ins or stand-alone applications?

MCCUE: Hard to say; since Reader 7.0 allows the main functions of commenting (making comments, as well as importing and exporting them), most general needs would be met by the built-in capabilities. I can't see any benefit to Adobe in protecting this territory: if there are markets for proprietary or complex implementations of commenting, especially if implementation is only possible via full-blown Acrobat, it's to Adobe's benefit to expose the hooks to plug-in developers, spurring more sales of Acrobat.

SHEA: OK, let's look at the other side: is there anything that you would like to have seen that's not in v7.0?

MCCUE: It's still difficult to dig down and select elements with the TouchUp Object tool. I confess that I keep a copy of Acrobat 5.0 for just that purpose.

And I'm disappointed that, while Reader allows exporting of data as XML from forms (if they were created in Forms Designer), it still refuses to allow saving a filled-out form.




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