Acrobat 7 Professional
Despite a remarkable number of new features, Acrobat 7 Professional looks surprisingly familiar to anyone accustomed to the previous version. The menus have been rearranged, but they are well structured and noticeably easier to navigate. The same is true of to Acrobat’s toolbars, which have been reorganized in a more user-friendly fashion.
Acrobat 7 Professional sports its own version of Photoshop’s File Browser – the Organizer – which is designed to help keep track of recently used PDFs as well as to navigate through collections of documents. The Organizer can take much guesswork out of the job of finding a particular file and maintaining the overview.
Among the outstanding new features is Acrobat’s Print Production toolbar, which gives quick access to features such as output preview, preflight, colour conversion, Ink Manager, Add Printer Marks, Transparency Flattening, PDF Optimizer and a JDF Job Definitions manager.
In Acrobat 7 Professional, you can easily define presets for trapping, verify the amount of ink when previewing output, convert colours, and set colour aliases in the Ink Manager. Furthermore, you can add printer marks to a PDF file, but in most cases you‘ll have to first extend the boundaries of the PDF document by cropping the page in Tools?Print Production?Crop Pages. It would be therefore more logical if the Add Printer Marks command automatically invoked Crop Pages, or rather Crop & Extend Pages, as this name would be less confusing.
Fix Hairlines rids the document of any hairline by broadening it to a predefined width. This way you don’t have to go back to the application you used to create the design. Moreover, you can temporarily or permanently flatten transparencies, more-efficiently optimize PDF files and generate JDF job definitions. To facilitate secure exchange of PDF/X-compliant documents (characterized by the lack of security settings), Acrobat 7 can wrap them in an encrypted archive called eEnvelope.
Distiller 7 sports updated presets, new compression settings in PDF 1.6 and colour image policies for a more reliable colour processing.
Adobe’s PDF review workflow and the Review Tracker, promising innovations first introduced in Acrobat 6, haven’t taken off yet partly because the functionality was restricted to commercial versions of the software. This limitation is gone: in Acrobat 7 Professional you can set up a document in a way that the file enables commenting features in Adobe Reader 7. This is clearly a quantum leap for PDF-based reviewing since it no longer requires additional investments.
Acrobat 7 also sports numerous other enhancements. Users can add watermarks, footers or headers to a PDF file more easily, very much like in Microsoft Excel, and also place text or files in the foreground or background of a PDF. The Callout and Dimensioning tools in the Drawing Markup toolbar as well as the TouchUp Reading Order and the 3D tools in Advanced Editing introduce some additional flexibility. However, placing 3D objects in a PDF appears to require Adobe Atmosphere, which isn’t available for the Mac. Also, to activate some additional usage rights in Adobe Reader 7 you will have to provide (server-side) Adobe LiveCycle Reader Extensions, which run on Windows, AIX and Solaris – but unfortunately not yet on Mac OS X Server.
For the prepress and print industry, Acrobat 7 Professional is great. Given that with this release some expensive third-party plug-ins are no longer a necessity, upgrading will quickly pay off, if only for the Print Production functionality. The much-enhanced preflight now supports newer PDF/X standards as well as PDF/A, lets you create droplets for automation, and even converts files to PDF/X. Those who rely on Acrobat’s review functionality will find the update well worth the price. For the first time, users of the free Adobe Reader 7.0 can participate in a review workflow initiated in Acrobat 7 Professional. For many workgroups this finally brings about the end of a paper-based workflow and lets workgroups completely go digital for an affordable price; just one release of Acrobat 7 Professional is sufficient to start. This is a very impressive update for a fair price.