PDF In-Depth

Q&A: Ted Padova talks about 'Reader 7 Revealed' book

Highlights and lowlights

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SHEA: What do you think are the highlights of Adobe Reader 7.0?

PADOVA: Quick launch gets a lot of press and it's a great feature in all the Acrobat viewers. Some people may decide to upgrade just because of the speed launch without looking at some other nifty features. Obviously, working in comment and review sessions tops the list of new features in the Adobe Reader 7 product in my opinion. They're superb and Adobe wasn't stingy in offering tools for Reader users to make comments. ALL the comment tools are available to users when working on PDFs enabled with usage rights. In addition to commenting, many of the new features added to digital signatures that are found in the other Acrobat viewers have been implemented in Reader. Also, there are some nice new features in Reader that one might not think of at first glance such as the ability to take a snapshot at user defined resolutions. New viewing tools, viewing and searching object data, and more. Features like this as well as many workarounds that can be performed in Reader are all covered in the book.

SHEA: What about the lowlights?

PADOVA: One thing that comes to mind is arguably a controversial subject. Reader doesn't support PDF creation and Adobe can argue the point that the line has to be drawn somewhere between the Reader product and the commercial viewers. I guess what I'd like to see is perhaps a low cost plug-in offered by Adobe as an option for Reader users. At some point I think Adobe needs to find some effective solution for offering the Reader community a simple form of PDF creation other than the Create PDF Online service. With PDF creation liberally available in Mac OS X and a number of free and shareware PDF creation tools available to Windows users, I think it just makes sense for Adobe to take charge of this issue and offer Reader users support for PDF creation.

Another thing that also needs to be considered and, as yet, remains unimplemented in Reader is the ability to save form data. There are still workarounds for saving form data and I point these out in the book. Considering the fact that people can use a workaround to save form data, it again seems to me that it makes sense to implement a Save command to save form data. I do understand that Adobe needs to protect certain solutions such as the Adobe LiveCycle Reader Extensions (LCRE) used for enabling PDFs with usage rights to save form data and digitally sign documents, so I'm not really that disappointed that these features have been left out.

One thing I would like to point out is that with each upgrade to the Reader program, many users develop a wish list for other features they would like to have implemented. I think it's important to understand that Adobe does need to attain certain market penetration to fund all the R&D that goes into each upgrade. We all benefit from product upgrades and I do sincerely believe that Adobe makes a generous offering to the user community by offering us Adobe Reader free. Therefore, my overall general impression and opinion is that I really don't believe there are any "low points" to the new Reader program.

SHEA: You're probably best known (to Planet PDF readers, anyway) for your "Adobe Acrobat PDF Bible" series, so writing a book on Adobe Reader seems like a natural extension. With that in mind, why wait until now to write an equivalent guide about Reader?

PADOVA: Part of the reason for not publishing a book sooner on Reader is due to what a publisher is willing to let me write and part is due to what level of enthusiasm I have when I make a book proposal to a publisher. With Reader 7, I just became very enthusiastic and I wasn't going to let a publisher talk me out of writing the book. There are almost 3/4 of a billion installed users of Adobe Reader so when I pitched the book to a proposal committee I said, "look, if just one tenth of one percent of the existing population buys the book, it represents almost 75,000 copies." That figure is a great success for a computer book publisher. Everyone became excited and I didn't need to say more.

In retrospect, Adobe Reader was mature enough to write a book on Reader 6, but I never really thought of proposing a Reader 6 book. After looking at the comment and review features in Reader 7, I thought the time is definitely right to offer the book to the user community.

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