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

For week beginning 23 September 2002
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.

MONDAY

Where in the world is Adobe Acrobat?: That appears to be a popular query these days, at least judging from a recently posted list of the "Top 500 Keywords Of The Week" published by The Search Engine Guide. The list of "500 frequently searched words on the Internet" is developed by Wordtracker, and is culled from "various metacrawlers and search engine voyeurs across the Internet and stored in a database of over 30 million search terms."

The "Top 300 Surge Report" -- the top 300 queries from the last 24 hours, allegedly taken from 2,618,540 queries -- represents the complete queries from the largest Metacrawlers on the Web (Metacrawler, Dogpile, etc.).

First, does it strike anyone else as a bit strange that "google" is the top-ranked search term, according to this list? Who needs to use a search engine to find Google (www.google.com)? Even accepting that there might actually be some folks who'd actually find it necessary to do so, can there really be so many that this is the most-searched term of the week? (One assumes certain adult-oriented terms were excluded, since none appear in the list.) Probably the only thing that convinces me this is a legitimate top-ranked term is the second-ranked term: "yahoo" apparently is another term -- and Web site -- a considerable number of people need help finding. In either case, entering the same respective term in a Web browser's location box would likely take a user directly to either site. That said, even more inexplicably, the term "yahoo.com" is also in the list's top 10.

That issue aside -- or perhaps with that degree of apparent cluelessness in mind -- it might surprise some to discover that the search phrase "adobe acrobat" made the top 300 list last week. It appears at #287, sandwiched between "free mp3" and "People Locator" -- and ahead of a number that at first glance would seem on avaerge likely to be more popular. That includes lower-ranked keywords and phrases like "free stuff," "Free" and "Free Downloads." It's worth noting that the search phrase "Free Mp3 Downloads" ranks 125th and "free mp3 downloads" shows up 257th.

No sign of "adobe pdf" or even basic "pdf" among the week's most popular searches. But using the url www.acrobat.com now takes you directly -- or re-directly -- to Adobe System's main Acrobat page. At one time that url actually went to a porn site!

And in one of life's continuing ironies, the url/domain www.pdf.com takes you to the Web site of a Silicon Valley-based company called PDF Solutions, Inc., which in fact has nothing to do with the portable document format, but rather is about a "Design-to-Silicon-Yield Solutions(tm) provider that offers semiconductor makers comprehensive infrastructure technologies and services to improve IC yield and performance." Yet because of its domain name, PDF Solutions shows up in most Internet searches for the keyword "pdf" -- 8th-ranked match using Yahoo, for example. However, when The PDF Solutions' Web site beckons you to "Join The PDF Team," it's not looking for Adobe Acrobat expertise. (Google spots only one PDF file on the site, and it's an Asian-language document.)

Last irony: While "Adobe Acrobat" is a commercial software product (not be to be confused -- although it frequently is -- with the free Adobe Acrobat Reader), to my mind someone searching for lower-cased "adobe acrobat" may just as well be looking for something "skilled in feats of balance and agility in gymnastics" that's also "made of sun-dried, unburned brick of clay and straw."

And I assume they also expect free downloads.


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TUESDAY

Teaming up for PDF: In yesterday's Weblog we noted that the San Jose-based company PDF Solutions, Inc., based on the Web at www.pdf.com, promotes its current job openings as a chance to "Join the PDF Team." Alas, the company -- and any openings -- appear to have little demand for certifiable skills working with the portable document format (PDF).

Across the country -- and across the spectrum of Acrobat awareness -- is Dan-Ari Feinberg. Formerly known for popular software products such as Ari's Link Tool and Ari's LinkChecker that he developed under the Dionis brand, which were later sold to A Round Table Solution (ARTS), Feinberg is definitely someone with certifiable PDF skills and knowledge. TeamPDF logoHe demonstrated that again last week at Seybold San Francisco 2002, where he reappeared sporting a new brand name -- TeamPDF (www.teampdf.com) -- and a new product -- TeamMarkup -- currently in development.

He was among the 17 developers selected to offer a brief presentation on recent or forthcoming Acrobat/PDF-oriented products at the "Seven Minutes with a PDF Developer" session at Seybold SF.

TeamMarkup for copyediting PDF content

If you've longed for having traditional copyediting tools -- the use of so-called proofreader marks, where special symbols are used to denote editing changes that are clarified in the margin -- available as a plug-in to Acrobat, keep an eye out for the future release of TeamMarkup, which Feinberg promoted during his closely timed, less-than-420 seconds presentation as "the ePen to markup your ePaper." You choose the proper symbol from the tool's palette and apply it to PDF-based content just as you would doing it the old-fashioned way -- by hand, initially with pencil and paper (and usually with red ink). Other methods have been adapted for electronic content, but to our knowledge this will be the first to bring the same methods to PDF.

TeamMarkup proofreader mark
TeamMarkup edited

TeamPDF's official launch is slated for October 1, so watch for further details on the release of TeamMarkup soon thereafter.

We've posted coverage of the "7 Minutes with a PDF Developer" session with a brief synopsis on other featured companies and products.


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WEDNESDAY

All the News You Can Choose: Staying with yesterday's "7 Minutes with a PDF Developer" theme, there was at least one product demo during the Seybold SF 2002 product preview session you can re-create at home or work -- wherever you have an Internet connection, the appropriate tools available and the urge to catch up on some news.

In his seven minute show-and-tell, Ken Fujimoto of BestNewspaper demonstrated dynamic PDF generation using the Docudyne Server, focusing on the field of news delivery. BestNewspaper What was especially amazing -- and a good thing, given his time constraints -- the speed at which he built an on-the-fly newspaper of sorts, including news, sports, crossword puzzles, comics and more from a variety of online sources. I don't doubt there were some in the audience who assumed the finished, PDF-based product he showed was in fact pre-built for demonstration purposes. No need to wonder when you can test drive the same application via the Web.

The BestNewspaper site (www.bestnewspaper.com) does offer a pre-built sample newspaper for anyone who cares only to view the customized end result. But that seems like a pretty boring way to go when the other option is to create your own timely PDF edition -- from exactly the sources and/or topics *you* select -- on the fly.

After creating a free demo user account -- only email address and password required -- the first step in the creation process is making your content selections using an interactive, PDF form within the Web browser -- simply clicking your "X" next to each listed content source, ranging from the Associated Press news cooperative to Ziggy (comic). The form includes buttons across the top of the catalog document that move you through the entire process, including submission once you've identified your selections.

Even if you selected every available content source to be included, you'll discover soon after submitting the form that the system speed witnessed at Seybold was no illusion. PDF Form buttons Your custom publication should appear within your browser within seconds, based on several different tests we conducted. Don't expect the type of sophisticated design one sees in typical daily newspapers, where the craft of headline writing, story placement, etc has carefully and deliberately developed. By comparison, your BestNewspaper demo news publication's visual appearance will be rather unsophisticated -- at least at this stage in the development of such tools. Its speed of delivery advantage is, on the other hand, no comparison. PDF Form buttons Also, the PDF newspaper allows searching within the content, contains active hyperlinks in the news stories presented and includes a pre-built story index in the form of Acrobat bookmarks.

PDF bookmarks

And as far as we know, no copies have been lost to canine shredding devices.


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THURSDAY

Idol maker lacks PDFMaker: There was actual news in the music industry this week that for once wasn't about the industry's overzealous copyright efforts -- basically considering all customers potential thieves from the get-go -- nor about the return of Elvis.

It was about a record-breaking industry record from a female singer whose name is probably only familiar if you spent some summer evenings watching television -- which more often than not isn't highly entertaining, offering a heavy dose of re-runs and/or trial balloon programs. If despite such lowly expectations you tuned in to the Fox Network's eventual runaway summer hit "American Idol," then the name -- and voice of -- Kelly Clarkson won't be unfamiliar. And the "news" this week from RCA Records, the record company that has the young Texan under contract, announcing that one of Clarkson's recently released songs surged to the top of the Billboard charts won't be all that surprising.

Billboard 1 Kelly Clarkson

What's surprising is that she's achieved so much fame -- a #1 single -- and recognition (to Idol worshippers, she's just "Kelly") so quickly without even having a single PDF file to her credit! Or so it seems from cursory exploration since the story of her record's record catapault from #52 a week ago to #1 broke. Her single "A Moment Like This," a song she performed on the final episode of the Fox reality show, shot to No. 1 on the latest Hot 100 singles chart from Nielsen SoundScan. According to industry reports, it's the largest jump to No. 1 in Billboard Hot 100 history.

It's not that RCA has missed or messed up the promotional opportunity. No, it's issued a series of news releases that chronicle Clarkson's rapid rise from being chosen by a majority of TV viewers who voted by telephone after the final segment of "American Idol" just a couple weeks ago -- thus earning her the RCA contract -- to her sudden success. Assuming her suddenly in demand voice holds up, a concert tour with other Idol finalists will soon commence, with Clarkson's first album to follow soon therafter.

However, if you wanted to download the RCA accounts about its latest star, the best they offer on the Web site is a selection of Microsoft Word .DOC format news releases. Apparently RCA is an Idol maker without a copy of PDFMaker. With a copy of the free utility that installs with Windows versions of Adobe Acrobat and provides a simple one-click mechanism for creating a PDF file from a Word document using Acrobat's Distiller, RCA could have offered much more portable -- and much smaller -- files for its promotions. After all, a modern-day Idol deserves to be in PDF. Right?

Assuming you'd agree, we dparted from the usual Weblog routine of occasionally highlighting interesting content in PDF to draw attention to specific, newsworthy content that *should* be available in PDF, but isn't.

Or wasn't. To rectify the matter, we converted with PDFMaker the following three recent RCA news releases to PDF, in the process significantly reducing the file size of each considerably:

*Now* she's a legitimate Idol. But perhaps to prove to her that fame can be fleeting, as well as occasionally everlasting, RCA has another potential top-of-the-chart singer in the wings, with a new album set for release. This time the name may be more familiar: Elvis Presley.

RCA Records Elvis

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FRIDAY

eReading Room: Planet PDF colleague Rich Crocker has been hitting the books lately -- and as a result, there's more good reading material for Reader-equipped readers ... equipped with desktop and/or portable, handheld-sized viewing devices.

The first batch of free, PDF-based eBooks -- an assortment of some of the most popular classics -- is now ready for download at Planet PDF. Titles include works from Dickens, Wells, Joyce, Conrad, Aesop, Dostoevsky, Alcott, Kipling and Kafka. Multiple versions are available, including one of each title designed -- created as "Tagged PDF" to add structure information to the diocument, enabling content reflow -- for use on handhelds like Palm OS and Pocket PC devices. Rich plans to add new eBooks each week, so read fast!


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