Sample Chapter from "The Acrobat 5 PDF Bible" by Ted Padova
Read an excerpt from "Getting to Know Adobe Acrobat"

UPDATED: 14 August 2002

SEE ALSO: Ted Padova's "Creating Adobe Acrobat Forms" book from Wiley Publishing was released in June 2002. The CD-ROM that ships with his new book includes both the full version of "Creating Adobe Acrobat Forms" in PDF and two free eBooks -- "101 Acrobat 5.0 eTips and Techniques" and "101 Acrobat 5.0 Forms eTips and Techniques," also written by the author.

Acrobat 5 PDF Bible

INDEX to Chapter 1 (abridged)

Reprinted from ADOBE ACROBAT 5 PDF BIBLE, by Ted Padova with expressed permission. Copyright 2001 Hungry Minds, Inc.

What Is Adobe Acrobat?

If, after perusing your local bookstore, you decided to lay down your money at the counter, carry away this ten-pound volume, and take it to bed with you tonight, you probably already know something about Adobe Acrobat. Heck, why else would you buy this book? If you?re at the bookstore shelf and you haven?t bought it yet, then you?re probably wondering how in the world anyone could write so many pages for such a simple application. After all, isn?t Acrobat that little thingy you download from the Adobe Web site?

Assuming you know little about Acrobat, I start with a brief description of what Acrobat is and what it is not. As I explain to people who ask about the product, I usually define it as the most misunderstood application available today. Most of us are familiar with the Adobe Acrobat Reader software, which is a product from Adobe Systems Incorporated that you can download free of charge from the Adobe Web site. You can also acquire the Adobe Acrobat Reader from most of the installation CD-ROMs for other Adobe software. You can even acquire Acrobat Reader from other users, as long as the Adobe licensing requirements are distributed with the installer program. The Acrobat Reader, however, is not Adobe Acrobat. Acrobat Reader is a component of a much larger product that has evolved through several iterations.

History of Adobe Acrobat

When Acrobat was first released (as version 1.0), users could obtain the Acrobat Reader software for viewing and printing documents saved in Portable Document Format (PDF). Adobe released this product to help the growing user base view documents created on different platforms. The PC user, for example, could view a PDF file that was created on a Macintosh or UNIX workstation, and vice versa. The Acrobat Reader was free and enabled the viewing and printing of a document while maintaining that document's integrity. Fonts, graphics, design, and layout were all preserved in a PDF file, so that the end user could view and print a document without needing any of the fonts, links, or applications from which the document was created.

The other two applications released in version 1.0, Acrobat Distiller and Acrobat Exchange, were software items that had to be purchased from Adobe Systems. Acrobat Distiller enabled users to create a PDF document from a PostScript file printed to disk. Virtually any file created by an application with the capability to print to disk could be converted to PDF. After a PDF was created, it could then be edited in Acrobat Exchange.

As the product evolved, release 2.1 was referred to as Acrobat Pro. The Acrobat Reader was still a free application distributed by Adobe Systems, but Acrobat Pro was a bundle of several applications that had to be purchased from Adobe. Acrobat Pro included Acrobat Distiller and Acrobat Exchange, and introduced a new application known as Acrobat Catalog that enabled the end user to create searches from multiple PDF files and provided an organized index of all the words used in documents.

With the release of 2.1, Acrobat Exchange, among other enhancements, also enabled the end user to add security to PDF files, which prevented other users with Exchange from modifying the documents.

With the release of version 3.0, Adobe dropped the reference to Acrobat Pro, and simply called the Acrobat suite of software Adobe Acrobat. This terminology may appear somewhat confusing if you haven?t followed the product closely during its evolution, as many users refer to Acrobat Reader as Adobe Acrobat. Keep in mind: The Reader is not Adobe Acrobat. The Reader software is still distributed free by Adobe Systems, but it is limited to only viewing and printing PDF files. For performing all of the editing tasks and adding bells and whistles to PDF documents, you need Adobe Acrobat, which consists of the complete complement of Acrobat products. The Adobe Acrobat release included all of the previous modules that were part of the 2.1 release, with new additions, Acrobat Capture and Acrobat Scan, added to the bundle.

Release of Adobe Acrobat 4.0 added further confusion to what we were to call some of the components. Adobe Acrobat was used to refer to the suite of applications, but Acrobat Exchange was simply referred to as Acrobat. The remaining applications of Reader, Catalog, Distiller, and PDFWriter were included in the bundle.

Enter Acrobat 5.0

Our new release of Adobe Acrobat has kept the name of Acrobat to refer to what we earlier referred to as Exchange. In order to more centrally localize other functions, Adobe has eliminated PDFWriter and added a means of creating PDFs from within Acrobat 5. Additionally, Acrobat Catalog is now a plug-in and also accessible from within Acrobat. You?ll find the new release of Adobe Acrobat includes just two separate applications: Acrobat and Acrobat Distiller.

Regardless of what you call it, Adobe Acrobat has grown into a sophisticated tool that provides many capabilities for organizing, displaying, and printing documents. Adobe Acrobat remains multi-platform and has achieved a high level of respect and performance in office, Web integration, and publishing environments.

Both Acrobat and the Distiller application in version 5.0 are designed to work in tandem to create and modify documents for on-screen viewing, Web publishing, and printing to suit most end user desires. This book covers all of the features of Adobe Acrobat. To perform the exercises contained herein, you need to purchase the complete Adobe Acrobat software, which has a street price of $295 as of this writing. If you work through all the chapters and develop a strong command in using Adobe Acrobat, I think you?ll agree that the program is one of the best buys available in the computer software market.

CONTINUE to Part 2: What is PDF?

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