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Collaborating via Acrobat 8 and Adobe Connect

Ussing digital proofing to improve workflow.

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By Stephen Beals

You do not need to have the Professional version of Acrobat to join and participate in the collaboration, although you do need it to initiate the conference. The initiator of the conference can allow access to collaboration tools through the free Acrobat Reader. Users of the Acrobat Pro version can launch Connect directly from a PDF document to begin a collaboration session. Acrobat Connect Professional also canbe set up in an on-premise, behind the firewall configuration, rather than through Adobe’s hosted service.

Acrobat Connect can, of course, go way beyond document review, since it is also a virtual conference room. And, it’s available for free trial download from Adobe’s website.

A few other relevant enhancements in Acrobat 8 are also relevant to print providers. For instance, you can combine multiple files into one searchable PDF while maintaining all of the security settings and digital signatures of the original. Adobe reports that the new software does a faster job of converting AutoCAD files to PDF, though some reviewers have complained that they did not add automation tools for this process. There is also an improvement in saving PDFs in Microsoft Word format, though this functionality is understandably problematic due to the inherent file structure and graphics found in PDF files.

Worth a look
Of course, there are proprietary systems on the market that can perform this same function, as long as the print provider has the software to do it; clients and buyers can log on through a simple Web browser (sometimes with the aid of a plug-in) to do their end of the collaboration. But these systems are quite pricey when compared with the street price of Acrobat Professional full version (about $400); and many print shops already own Acrobat through their purchase of Adobe Creative Suite.

A couple of caveats to note: Although I find the new user interface to be cleaner, more intuitive and more consistent, other reviewers call it clunky and non-intuitive. And, some users have commented that Acrobat has become bloated with unneeded features. I tend to disagree on both counts, but it’s worth noting that such disagreement exists. All the reviews I have seen, however, do agree that the enhanced collaboration tools can be extremely helpful to print providers and for document collaboration and mark-up in general. And if real-time or at least near-time collaboration makes sense, Acrobat Connect is well worth a look.