By Ron Ellis
Adobe Acrobat has a New Upgrade
When I heard that Acrobat 7 was due out for release my first thought was, ÒAlready?Ó Though it seemed like Acrobat 6 had just come out, Adobe has a new upgrade for Acrobat. It is a quick cycle for an upgrade — less than a year. Upon hearing news of the impending upgrade many of my customers stated that they hadnÕt even upgraded to Acrobat 6 yet. What follows is a list of some of the more important changes and additions to Acrobat 7. Customers have been asking me what is new in Acrobat 7. What follows are some of the more interesting features — and the implications they bring with them.
There are numerous features that have been added. For the purpose of this article we will concentrate on the additions or changes to the product that will affect printers and graphic designers.
Acrobat Reader now allows commenting. If the creator of the PDF desires, they can set the properties of the PDF so that users of Acrobat reader can add comments, edits, and annotations to the document. This is a significant change to Reader and removes the price barrier for using Acrobat commenting with many customers. Prior to this, commenting could only be performed using full versions of Acrobat. With this version you can send a document for comment along with a link to download the reader, and there will be no issues about purchasing software.
Speed has been improved — for Windows users. I find myself often launching AppleÕs Preview utility rather than Acrobat just to get a quick look at PDF documents. Acrobat 6 is slow to launch, and for Windows users this will be fixed in Acrobat 7 with a feature called the speed launcher. Unfortunately for Mac users there is no speed increase and launching Acrobat will continue to be painful.
A new toolbar called the Print Production Toolbar has been added. This contains numerous features used in print production. These features are organized in one place for the first time. As with Acrobat 6, these prepress features are only available in the Professional version.
Trap presets can be set in Acrobat, which can then be picked up by any Adobe PostScript Level 3 RIP that supports in-RIP trapping. The use of these presets is not straightforward (you have to print from Acrobat), but offers new features for users who want more control. To use this feature, the file must be printed via separations from Acrobat to the Adobe Postscript Level 3 RIP.
A new convert colors feature allows users to convert colors with PDF files — to and from CMYK, as well as to map spot colors to and from one another. These conversions are done using International Color Consortium (ICC) profiles, so it takes a bit of understanding of how ICC profiles work in relation to color conversions. The options are powerful and depending on how you use them, can maintain black type and objects while still using ICC profiles to perform color conversions. (Black is typically converted into CMYK during an ICC color conversion). The distiller also now can perform color conversions while distilling the file.
A new ink manager allows you to view the way inks are viewed and printed, as well as the order in which they are applied. The ink manager can also be used to remap colors. It also had a mode that can show warnings (based on settings in the Acrobat preferences).
An add crop marks feature has been added. It is also possible to change the size of the PDF to add these marks within Acrobat now.
A new fix hairlines tool has been added which can automatically fix hairlines that are to small.
Transparency flattening can now be performed rather than just previewed.
Acrobat now allows you to define and apply JDF information directly to the PDF.
There are also a number of other changes that are less relevant to us as prepress users, but that are still important. Commenting now contains a callout tool that points directly to the object you are commenting on. Optical Character Reading (OCR) can be performed directly within Acrobat itself. There is an attachment tool that allows the user to treat the PDF more like a file folder than a document. Using the attachment tool, a document can contain multiple attachments that can accompany the PDF file.
PDF files can now be opened with multiple views so you can see how changes affect multiple points on the document rather than just with split screen. Acrobat 7 even supports tiling documents across multiple monitors.
For those who work with a large number of PDF files, there is a feature called the organizer. It monitors folders that you store PDF files in and keeps lists of them so that you can quickly move back and forth between PDF documents. It also has a preview pane that will show you a quick preview of the document as you click on it.
There are also many new wizards included with Acrobat 7 to make complex concepts such as security easy enough so that most of us could tackle it. The list of features goes on, but you can see that there are a number of features that will affect how we do our work.
There are a number of new features in this version of Acrobat. Though some of them make perfect sense and sound easy to use, they may not change the way we use PDF files in production at this point. For example the method of performing a color correction in Acrobat 7 appears to be different from how it is done in Pitstop, and many people are comfortable with using Pitstop to perform color conversions once they get the preferences and profiles set up correctly. Like Acrobat 6 and the preview separations feature, many of these new features appear helpful in terms of helping us understand and control thePDF.
Even with the many new features included in Acrobat 7, it is doubtful that everyone will rush out and upgrade just because a new version is now available. It is usually unwise to use new versions, and there are many workflows and customers still producing PDF files using Acrobat 4 and 5. Acrobat is moving along and adding more relevant features. Many of them are not for prepress, but the addition of the Print Production Toolbar shows that Adobe continues to take the print market seriously, even though it accounts for only a fraction of Acrobat sales.
About the author: Ron Ellis is a prepress consultant specializing in workflow training and integration. He worked in the commercial printing industry for 18 years and brings a strong background to all aspects of prepress. He has consulted on numerous CTP installations and he provides color management, integration, training, workflow development and trouble shooting solutions to the graphic arts community. He can be contacted at 603-498-4553 or through his web site at www.ronellisconsulting.com .