Planet PDF's AcroPDF Weblog
A daily chronicle of Acrobat/PDF-oriented newsbits

For week beginning 15 April 02
By Kurt Foss, Planet PDF Editor

Monday | Tuesday | Wednesday | Thursday | Friday


NEWSFLASH: Russian software developer Elcomsoft Co. Ltd. was in court in California again today facing criminal charges its Advanced eBook processor software violates the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA). Its attorneys have filed several motions to dismiss the case, which had been taken under advisement at previous hearings by the district court judge. According to an Associated Press news brief published on the San Francisco Chronicle's Web site this afternoon, District Court Judge Ronald Whyte told both parties he will aim to issue a decision on the Elcomsoft motions by May 6. If he does not dismiss charges, a trial date will be set. The situation began with the arrest of Elcomsoft programmer Dmitry Sklyarov on July 16, 2001, first reported on our Planet eBook sister site.

A couple carryover items first off this week: Several people emailed to ask about specific items in last week's Weblog, which by the way now has its own permanent URL and is archived for long-term use. [To digress briefly, the most current version of our AcroPDF Weblog will always be at this Web page and URL. As each weekly edition is completed, it moves off of this page to be replaced the following week. The previous week's Weblog then becomes part of the permanent AcroPDF archive.]

At least one person who attempted to replicate our reference to using Google's Advanced Search feature last week -- to compare the number of PDF files found on the respective Internet sites of Adobe Systems and Microsoft Corporation -- came up with considerably different numbers, and thus opposite results. Once we explained how we entered the respective domain names, they got the same results as we did. They had inadvertently entered the domains to be searched by including the preceeding "www." rather than just using the actual and domain names. Obviously that changes what is searched, and skews the results. By the way, just a week since we ran the first comparison, the margin seems to have expanded in Microsoft's favor -- Microsoft with "about 3,900" and Adobe with "about 3,430" -- according to our latest Google query. We've added the exact links below this time.

Also on the searching-for-PDFs' front, another person wrote to ask how to request that PDFs on their own site can get indexed by Yahoo, based on the item we also reported last week citing a report that Yahoo has begun indexing select PDFs. Unfortunately, we're not privvy to their process; if it's anything like the method (?) by Yahoo decides what to index and not index on the text portion of the Web, you're probably better off not asking or trying to make sense of it! Nonetheless, if we come across further details, we'll certainly post them here as an update.

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Periodically we'll feature in this Planet PD Weblog select PDF files we believe to be at least noteworthy, if not newsworthy. We may sometimes choose to showcase a PDF (or set of PDFs) for the value of the content; other times its educational merit may be its virtues as a PDF (i.e. a 'Best Practices' example). And with luck, on occasion both criteria will be met.

That said, we noted an interesting use of PDF recently that related to Adobe's concerted development efforts -- especially with regards to Acrobat version 5.0 -- to allow PDF authors to create "accessible" files. The Access Adobe Web site provides a wealth of information about and pointers to tools for addressing PDF accessibility issues -- primarily those of blind or low-vision readers, for use with screen-reading devices.

The Web site of Boston's Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) affiliate, WGBH, is using PDF as one component of an online educational program to address the special needs of another segment of the disabled community -- deaf and hearing-impaired children. "Cornerstones" is a kit developed for (and by) teachers, designed to help overcome difficulties deaf children may experience in traditional reading classes. Among the PDF-based resources available for the project's current storybook "The Fox and the Crow" are a lesson guide, printable flash cards, teaching strategies, numerous story-specific actitivites, games and more.

Fox and Crow

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As one of the resident PDF Forms gurus likes to say when people continue asking if they can save forms-entered data if they are using the free Adobe Acrobat Reader: " If you could save, it would be called 'Saver!'"

But what would you call it if someone created a button script providing the ability to save PDF form data to the local drive from Acrobat Reader? The folks who have just done that are calling the freebie "ReaderSave." They tell us it's "well developed and features 'save', 'reload' and 'delete' as well as info on the number of data sets saved and memory remaining. The button configures itself to the form, and almost any fillable form can have a ReaderSave button added providing a save function in just a few seconds."

And where would one find this free download (free for 'personal' and 'local' use; small fee for commercial use)? At a Web site called, of course.

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Carl Young launched his series of twice-a-year conferences focusing on Acrobat and PDF a couple years back, offering the PDF Conference at both an east and west coast location. The first of this year's two confabs is shaping up to be the best so far, Young said this week. With a solid educational program in place drawing expert speakers from around the world, and testimonials from enriched past attendees supporting the value of the sessions, it's no surprise. Disclaimer: Planet PDF is a co-sponsor of the PDF Conference. On that note, we feel so strongly that this event merits serious consideration by anyone looking to expand their PDF horizons that through our ARTS software development group, we're sweetening the deal a bit more by offering free copies of the recently released ARTS PDF Tools plug-in for Acrobat 5. If that's not enough of an incentive, Young also tells us that this year there will be additional software giveways every day during the conference.

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NOTE: Previous Weblogs will be archived at the end of each week, and start fresh here.


As a long-time Mac user and also a reader of the Mac newsletter TidBITS, I've great admiration for the work of Adam Engst and the band of Mac evangelists who've done way more than their share of preaching the Macintosh faith. But I also recall that Adam was not a big fan of PDF in its early days (and beyond) -- so it's a tad bit ironic to read about his latest publishing venture that will make use of Adobe's format. Our Planet eBook sister site has the story on this one (as well as a related article by Engst with more details):

"What to do when a completed book on iPhoto may quickly become obsolete and a publisher is getting cold feet? To publish it as an unsecure PDF eBook now and send the reader the paper version once it's updated and printed. iPhoto for Mac OS X: Visual QuickStart Guide Offer Details author Adam C. Engst writes of his success story, combining electronic and paper book versions to give readers and author the best of both worlds. "

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