PDF In-Depth

REVIEW: 'Getting Professional Results From Your PDFs'

August 04, 2004

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Carl Young's Adobe Acrobat 6.0: Getting Professional Results From Your PDFs (McGraw-Hill Osborne/ISBN: 0-07-223138-6)

Carl's new book "Adobe Acrobat 6.0: Getting Professional Results From Your PDFs" is all about solving the real world problems and understanding the real world techniques needed when managing and creating PDF documents.

The book is split into three parts: Part I: PDF Standards for Everyone, Part II: In Business with Acrobat and Part III: Acrobat for Creative Professionals. This split really works, it allows the book to be used as both reading material and reference material.

The first part (of which there are 5 chapters) contains the nitty gritty on the new version of Acrobat, provides details on solving common PDF problems and also has a great section on creating GOOD PDF's, not just from Acrobat but also from the myriad of Third Party PDF creation tools.

In the second part (9 chapters) of the book Carl explores the numerous software applications in the marketplace today that can produce PDF, he also looks closely at Microsoft Office and the function of the PDFMaker Macros(in particular the settings and features). There are also chapters in Part II that are dedicated to Javascript, PDF Forms, Collaboration and even an extensive discussion/implementation of Digital Signatures/Security. As a developer my viewpoint is often skewed towards batch creation/conversion of PDF, in Chapter 11: Moving Beyond One-Document-at-a-Time Creation, Carl describes the software and processes that can be used to generate and manipulate PDF files on the Web, Network or Application Server.

A generous portion of the PDF Specification is devoted to getting perfect PDF output, there is where part 3 (4 chapters) comes into play. It's here that Carl shows us the in's and out's of some of the print industry's favorite design, publishing and drawing applications such as CorelDraw, Photoshop, Illustrator and even FrameMaker. Carl's many years of publishing experience shines through here, we see the techniques used by the pro's to get results as they were intended; explained and detailed so the everyday PDF author can benefit from his experience.

My favorite section of the book is Chapter 4: Making Onscreen PDF's. It's in here that Carl has pigeon holed problem PDF's. These categories very aptly describe the type of PDF's that are in common use on the Net and in the everyday workplace. However Carl doesn't stop at simply describing these problem PDF's he actually describes (in real terms) how to fix or rather create these PDF's properly. I also like this section as it points out Third Party tools that can be used to help you in the day-to-day PDF creation, management and distribution.

Overall Carl Young's Adobe Acrobat 6.0 is a concise, well layed out and otherwise technically correct book. Carl's informative, funny and totally fresh approach to explaining the world of PDF make this book a definite MUST HAVE for all PDF users/authors - of all levels. The subtitle for this book 'Getting Professional Results From Your PDFs' couldn't be closer to the truth, each chapter is well thought out and clearly explains each topic - without copy/paste from the Acrobat Help Manual so that you produce PDF content that does allow you to maximize your investment in PDF.

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