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

For week beginning 1 July 02
By Kurt Foss, Planet PDF Editor

Monday | Tuesday | Wednesday | Thursday | Friday

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


Three of a Kind: All ACEs: When we last counted -- early last week -- we recounted that at least two of the six randomly selected winners in our recent promotional contest to win an opportunity to take the Adobe Acrobat 5 certification exam had done so, and had passed the official test. The deadline for using the free vouchers, provided by Adobe as incentives for the contest, was June 30. Would there be others, we wondered, among our expert wannabees?

Adobe ACE logoAs June was expiring, we heard from a third contestant -- with similar success to report. In Mark Anderson's case, it was particularly good news: he had managed to capitalize on a special reprieve. He was one of the five randomly selected winners initially notified and asked to confirm within 48 hours. All except Anderson responded within the allowed timeframe. We were forced, therefore, to randomly select a different fifth winner to meet the contest deadline and to get the vouchers assigned. A short time later we did hear from him with a legitimate explanation for his untimely silence. Yet we had already given away the five vouchers kindly provided by Adobe's Lori DeFurio, Developer Evangelist for ePaper Technologies.

On learning of the situation and circumstances, Adobe and DeFurio offered up a sixth prize, so we were able to belatedly offer Anderson the same opportunity and free voucher for the Adobe Certified Expert (ACE) examination. He's now made the most of it!

The near-miss, it turns out, wasn't the only close call. "No sooner had you sent me the voucher than I got sucked into a big defence project," says Anderson, a UK-based computer consultant whose primary use of Acrobat and PDF is for documentation and commenting on received PDF proofs. "All [the new project] a long way from Acrobat, which I've hardly touched since March - weekends are busy too. As a result I booked an exam for the latest day possible and went with memory - I honestly expected to fail given the lack of revision ..."

Apparently there was sufficient expertise stored away in his memory banks, although Anderson admits he more squeaked by, than aced, the test. "By way of payback and to help the community, I'll put together some post-exam thoughts," Anderson wrote late last week. "By doing the exam with far less preparation did give me -- post-exam -- a good reminder of the approach/areas I should have brushed up on. I also realise I've a lot left to learn." His achievement is also noteworthy in that he has "no direct experience with DTP/Colour/Signatures/PostScript or with Enterprise-level aspects (SMS, WebDAV) of Acrobat," he says. The test covers *all* features and capabilities.

Accordingly, he now offers the following follow-up information and advice:

    My Preparation:
  1. Exploring the Acrobat User Interface, menus, dialogs etc - i.e. "tinkering."
  2. Read the ACE Bulletin from the Adobe Solutions Network (ASN).
  3. Printed and read the Acrobat and Reader 'Help' files (in PDF).
  4. Browsed the JavaScript handbook (AcroJS.pdf) and read through all the examples at the end.
  5. Read Ted Padova's 2 e-books.
  6. Downloaded the Acrobat 5 SDK and browsed parts of it (a nice-to-do).
    Most Useful Experiences:
  1. Tinkering with the app! Open the menus - research anything you don't expect/understand. Make sure you know all the menus and palettes.
  2. Downloading and playing with the many examples and tutorials on Planet PDF.
  3. Tried out the Planet PDF's WebDAV demo (great for learning if you've no server of your own).
  4. Making test files. As an extension of #1, set yourself mini-projects to deliberately employ features you don't normally use: Comments, embedding files, making indexes, saving Web pages to PDF, adding JavaScripts, batching.

In conclusion, Anderson poses -- and answers -- the big question: 'Was it hard?'

"I can't discuss the exact contents, but you certainly need to have looked at all aspects of the program, so don't forget to explore. Leaf through the [ACE] bulletin and [Acrobat 5] 'Help' file looking for features you don't know about and give them a try. You do need to know your menus and dialogs, but only underpin your detailed knowledge. Just cramming things like the keyboard shortcuts won't help. Even if you don't use Forms, JavaScript or Digital Signatures, you will need to understand them."

"Experience and use is the key; my 'tinkering' paid off."

In addition to Anderson's feedback, I'll add that it probably also won't hurt to review the sample test questions we published during the contest as part of our detailed "Could you pass as an Adobe Certified Expert (ACE) in Acrobat 5?" article and to devote some time and effort to exploring Adobe's new technical training resources.


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Not Quite So Quiet at Adobe HQ: Yesterday we cited an article in the San Francisco Chronicle reporting on the work slowdown this week at many of Silicon Valley's major technology companies, including Adobe Systems. To save a couple million dollars, as Adobe reportedly did when it first tried the Independence Day week closure a year ago, the San Jose company headquarters -- and its offices nationwide -- are off-limits to most employees the entire week of July 1.

According to today's San Jose Mercury News, assorted lights were still burning Monday on the 15th floor, West Tower of Adobe's corporate headquarters. According to the Mercury News' article "Silicon Valley goes into sleep mode this week," there was good reason for the apparent 'can't take time off right now' attitude of a select group of employees:

"Members of the software team developing the next version of Acrobat, one of the company's major applications for publishing documents on the Web, were pushing to hit a tough deadline."

Or perhaps they didn't get the memo?


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Declaration by Committee: Lacking the current governmental fondness for -- and access to -- technologies like Adobe Acrobat, the 1776 gathering of esteemed colleagues in Philadelphia did things the old-fashioned way: They formed a committee (first a Congress, actually, *then* a committee).


As we -- at least those of us in the U.S. -- pause this week to celebrate Independence Day, we can reflect on the collaborative document that Thomas Jefferson and some of his contemporaries (including one signer whose 'John Hancock' actually *was* John Hancock) developed in tandem that set the course for what the country has become. Their joint efforts resulted in the creation of the inimitable Declaration of Independence, the adopting -- and first printing -- of which on July 4, 1776 we honor with a national holiday.

Reflect on this: Too bad Jefferson, who wrote the first draft, and his Second Continental Congress colleagues, who subsequently nitpicked, annotated and re-wrote portions of the initial version to eventually create the final version over a three-day period, didn't have access to a few copies of Acrobat and a WebDAV server! If they had, their collaborations might have gone more smoothly and we might be celebrating Independence Day earlier than the *4th* of July (Jefferson reportedly began writing his initial draft on June 11)!

"Jefferson's draft was revised first by Adams, then by Franklin, and then by the full committee for a total of forty-seven alterations. After voting for independence on July 2, the Congress continued to revise the document, making thirty-nine additional changes to the committee draft before its final adoption on the morning of July 4."

In any case, the much-quoted and respected document they created with quill-tip pen and parchment is readily available today in PDF -- in fact, a multitude of PDF versions exist on the Web, according to Google. In honor of tomorrow's holiday, we thought we'd highlight a few variations, containing the famous proclamation on "unalienable rights" and the call to arms -- "it is their Right, it is their Duty, to throw off such Government" -- that helped to precipitate the Revolutionary War against England:

"The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen United States of America"

pocket constitution

"WHEN in the Course of human Events, it becomes necessary for one People to dissolve the Political Bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the Powers of the Earth, the separate and equal Station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent Respect to the Opinions of Mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the Separation."

"WE hold these Truths to be self-evident, that all Men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness -- That to secure these Rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just Powers from the Consent of the Governed, that whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these Ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its Foundation on such Principles, and organizing its Powers in such Form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient Causes; and accordingly all Experience hath shewn, that Mankind are more disposed to suffer, while Evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the Forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long Train of Abuses and Usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object, evinces a Design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their Right, it is their Duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future Security. Such has been the patient Sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the Necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The History of the present King of Great Britain is a History of repeated Injuries and Usurpations, all having in direct Object the Establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid World."

PDF versions of the Declaration of Independence


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