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Chris Dahl: 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



Chris Dahl is the Chief Technology Officer of ARTS PDF Global Services (APGS), which is the custom development and consulting division of renowned PDF software company ARTS PDF. APGS is a leading global provider of PDF professional services, including packaged solutions Nitro and Cryo for server-side PDF document creation and control, respectively.

Dahl began his association with PDF in 2001 when he joined BinaryThing, the group that brings you Planet PDF, PDF Store and ARTS PDF, and can now boast a CV that firmly places him in an exclusive group of CTOs leading the largest and most innovative PDF projects in the world.

Combined with his in-depth and extensive knowledge of Acrobat and all things PDF, this has more than qualified him to speak on PDF developer issues and sit on expert panels at numerous conferences around the world. In addition, his day-to-day work as an enterprise-level solutions consultant means that he has plenty of hands-on experience to inform his opinions about Acrobat 7.0's impact on PDF development and forms workflows. Dahl has also been a frequent contributor to Planet PDF, and actively participates in online forums such as the Planet PDF Forum. The full interview text follows.

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

CHRIS DAHL, CTO, ARTS PDF Global Services: This release of Acrobat and its related products is the first time Adobe's really given a big bag of goodies out for each different type of user. For users of the full version of Acrobat you've got a much more responsive application, bundled form authoring tool (Pro) and better security policy management.

Users of the free Reader are surely left with a smile due to the possibility of now participating in collaboration reviews (where the PDF has been 'enabled for commenting in Adobe Reader' in Acrobat 7 Professional). Additionally, now the free Reader can send form data via the client's default e-mail application which does assist those people who may not have the resources to develop a server based solution as was required previously (see here). Another nice addition making Reader more intuitive is the message bar, where it informs the user of what they can and can't do with the PDF document currently open (e.g. telling the user that they cannot save the completed form, and to print a copy if they want to keep a copy).

And of course those angry Mac users can smile again with browser-based viewing being returned in version 7 (in Safari).

SHEA: Tell me about your favorite obscure or underrated new feature.

DAHL: Ahh, a little favorite of mine is no more changing between hand tool to text select. You can now select text with the hand tool by hovering over text for a few seconds, the hand tool turns into text select. You can turn this on under the General panel in Preferences.

SHEA: Adobe Acrobat 7.0 includes a greatly enhanced set of security features, including integration with Adobe Policy Server. What is possible with Adobe Policy Server and Acrobat 7.0 that was not available or possible with previous versions of Acrobat? How much of the new security functionality is available WITHOUT Adobe Policy Server?

DAHL: How Adobe as handled the application of security in Acrobat 7 is a big step forward. In previous versions, each time you were to apply security to a document you had to define each particular setting for each document you applied security to. Now, with version 7 you can create a self existing security profile (that is, security profiles you create and maintain in Acrobat) that you can apply time and time again.

Further to this improved way of handling document security from within Acrobat, there's the new concept of eEnvelopes. When you create an eEnvelope in Acrobat, you enclose attachments within an unencrypted PDF document. Whilst this 'PDF envelope' is left unencrypted for all to see (allowing you to give some general information about what is enclosed), the attachments are encrypted using a security policy chosen by the user when creating the eEnvelope in Acrobat.

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