PDF In-Depth

Leonard Rosenthol: First Impressions of Acrobat 7.0

Security and forms

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SHEA: Adobe Acrobat 7.0 includes a greatly enhanced set of security features, including integration with Adobe Policy Server and the concept of eEnvelopes, which allows for the separate encryption of file attachments. What effect do you think this will have on the use of PDF as a "container" or delivery medium for sensitive content?

ROSENTHOL: I think that moving attachments and "eEnvelopes" to a prominent place in the UI and product marketing is definitely going to help push this technology forward. We've already seen a few 3rd party developers consider moving their "private data" to this area in order to facilitate users having access to it.

The best part of this is for forms or interactive stuff, where the data can be either XML or another PDF and you can use JavaScript to communicate between them!

SHEA: Adobe LiveCycle Designer now ships with Acrobat 7.0 Professional (version 6 of Designer was purchased separately), giving users unprecedented control over form design "out-of-the-box". Adobe is obviously encouraging form designers to use LiveCycle Designer for forms design, but making this move will obviously also involve additional software and training costs. What are some of the benefits that can be realized by using Designer over AcroForms?

ROSENTHOL: It really is an "apples and oranges" comparison. Designer-based forms are the types of things that users have been expecting out of PDF forms for years - dynamic tables, resizing fields, reflow across pages, headers/footers, etc It really is a whole new world!

It's unfortunate, however, that Mac users don't get to participate in this :(

SHEA: Are there any "hidden issues" of which current AcroForm designers should be aware before making the jump across to Designer?

ROSENTHOL: Sure, some of their scripts will probably have to be rewritten to switch from the old object model to the newer one.

SHEA: What's the chance that future versions of Adobe Acrobat and Adobe Reader won't support the AcroForms style of PDF forms, forcing people to move across to Designer to create compatible PDF forms?

ROSENTHOL: I think it's very probable that will be the case - at least in terms of forms.

However, many PDFs are built using "form elements" (especially buttons) but are NOT forms. And so Adobe would need to find/provide an alternative if they were to get rid of AcroForms.

SHEA: Tell me about the things that will really get developers excited by Acrobat 7.0.

ROSENTHOL: Unlike Acrobat 6, I don't see Acrobat 7 as an exciting platform for developers - at least within Acrobat itself. To me, the excitement is going to be the building of tools/systems around Acrobat and PDF to help users deal with the growing number of PDFs that will be produced and need to be managed.

SHEA: Are there any other notable changes that developers should know about if they want to work with v7.0?

ROSENTHOL: Thing BIG!

PDF documents can now be > 2Gigs in size. PDF pages can now be > 200in in size.

SHEA: Thanks for your time, Leonard.

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