The first thoughts on Acrobat 6: Carl Young talks with Planet PDF
Planet PDF's Richard Crocker gets some quick fire answers on the new release

7 April 2003

What's the verdict? Does Acrobat 6 break new ground. Do people need it and its new features?

Carl Young: Acrobat 6 is the most significant update since forms were added in 3.5. There is something for everyone here, including hints about what will be forthcoming in new releases of Adobe products.

First, the user interface has been completely redesigned. As an Acrobat trainer, it is very frustrating to have to spend a large portion of class time explaining to new users how to find an icon. In 6, the tool buttons are larger and easier to get to. I think the new UI will cut down on the time required to teach new users to find and select tools.

Secondly, the file compression utilities are much more powerful. It is going to be far easier to produce a single PDF that is small enough for web delivery, yet will reproduce well in print.

Last, layers. Right now layers are for new PDF markets, engineers using AutoCAD and technical people who use Microsoft Visio. I think creative professionals can expect to see their favorite Adobe tools implementing PDF layers in the future.

There's lots more, such as more security options, improved commenting tools, watermarks, headers and footers and so on, but that's a good overview.

What new Acrobat 6 feature are you most excited about? Briefly explain this compelling feature and why it's exciting.

CY: It's hard to choose, but I guess I would have to go with layers. I like using layers in Photoshop, so it is nice to see a similar feature in Acrobat. By making a PDFMaker for AutoCAD, Adobe is reaching out to the engineering community in a big way. The PDFMaker for AutoCAD can produced layered PDFs. We are going to have a couple of sessions dedicated to engineering at PDF Conference.

At the initial release, the only products that can produce layered PDFs are Visio and AutoCAD. As I mentioned earlier, I would expect upcoming releases of other Adobe products to produce layered PDFs.

What single feature from previous versions of Acrobat do you think has been most improved with the Acrobat 6 release?

CY: Other than the UI, it seems that most of the work has gone into the Commenting tools. You can now round-trip comments between Word XP/2002 and Acrobat 6, plus there are lots of new tools. The improved commenting tools are available in both Standard and Professional.

What are your thoughts on the product segmentation into Elements, Standard and Professional, and the renaming of Acrobat Reader to Adobe Reader?

CY: The three levels of product segmentation make a lot of sense, although I would have done it differently by offering more choices. I deal with a lot of very large organizations, and Elements is going to be great for those guys. Very few enterprise workers need to know what Distiller is, or how to set it up. Elements, which basically is a utility, is perfect for that group--right-click on a Word file and presto, you have a nice PDF!

The grouping of tools in Standard and Pro is more problematic. In my experience, the people who produce PDF/X are going to be creative professionals, who don't need the AutoCAD, Visio and Project PDFMakers. Most forms designers don't give a hoot about PDF/X. However, all these groups will need the Professional version to do their work.

Standard users get review and markup tools, plus the PDFMaker for IE, but don't get forms design, PDF/X and the AutoCAD, Visio and Project PDFmakers.

I think the Standard package is just fine for most office workers, but I would have liked to have seen more (and less expensive) choices for creative pros, technical people and forms designers. That many options would obviously be an administrative headache for Adobe, so I see the reasoning behind three levels of product.

The name change from Acrobat Reader to Adobe Reader is good if it helps clarify what users get for free and what they have to pay for.

Are there any circumstances in which you would recommend staying with Acrobat 5.0?

CY: As with all software, don't buy it if you don't have a use for it. I think most organizations are going to find it pretty easy to justify upgrading because of the new features in 6.

Finally, any general comments or other points you'd like to make regarding Acrobat 6.0?

Again, this is a very significant milestone. I don't think anyone imagined 10 years ago when Acrobat 1 was announced that it would become a universally required application on the modern corporate desktop.

We are going to have a great time discussing the new features in Acrobat 6 at the June PDF Conference. Come on and join the fun!


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