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Collaborating via Acrobat 8 and Adobe Connect

Ussing digital proofing to improve workflow.

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By Stephen Beals

When the customer receives a file for review, he or she accesses the commenting tools by selecting the Comment and Markup Toolbar in Acrobat Professional or in Reader. This gives each reviewer the ability to draw on top of the document with marker tools, attach sticky notes, arrows, stamps, highlighters, and so on. Of course, they are not really changing the original file. These files can be sent back and forth pretty easily via e-mail since the files are generally small even for production files; it’s also possible to simply send a smaller, down-sampled version for the collaborative process.

Shared Review documents have a built-in layer of security since comments are stored in a server shared folder, a Microsoft SharePoint document workspace, or a WebDAV folder. All the technical "stuff" is made easy for the user with an intuitive wizard that walks him or her through the set up. Documents sent out via e-mail can be integrated with other comments into an overall document review. Many users are also taking advantage of the digital signatures, security passwords, watermarks, and time stamping available through Acrobat to add some peace of mind to the process.

Connectivity and beyond

Just as importantly, with Acrobat Pro 8, access via a standard Web browser is also available through a secure Adobe server for a small monthly fee to access that capability. Dubbed Acrobat Connect, the Web service costs $39/month or $395 annually for one host [note that these prices are for the streamlined "individual" version, not the "professional" version]. Usage is unlimited and as many as 15 clients can be on at any one time. The only "add on" needed to use Connect is Flash (not surprising since Acrobat Connect is the latest revision of the former Macromedia Breeze), something that more than 90% of Web browsers already have, Adobe reports. Although Connect has been designed as a Web conferencing tool, when paired with Acrobat it also becomes a nice proofing-collaboration tool.

The Acrobat Connect hosted services include screen sharing, whiteboarding, chat, and more; and in the Professional version of Connect, you can also audio conference via Voice over Internet Protocol (VOIP). You can embed the conference URL in an e-mail and send it to the person(s) you’d like to collaborate with. They will simply click on the "Start Meeting" button to join the meeting.