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Software Review: Adobe Acrobat 5.0

Adobe Acrobat 5.0
Adobe Systems, Inc. www.adobe.com
$249; $99 upgrade. Upgrade requires serial number and previous version of product on same platform as current purchase.

“I have Adobe Acrobat Reader on my Mac,” you say. “Is it the same as Acrobat? What is Acrobat, anyway?”
Here’s the scoop: Acrobat is the software developed by Adobe to distribute documents in a universal file format. The format, called PDF (Portable Document Format) preserves all the fonts, formatting, graphics and color of any original document, no matter what application or platform is used to create it. Acrobat Reader is the free software that allows you to open and print PDF files. (For best results, make sure you’re using the most recent version of Acrobat Reader. Version 5 works with Power PCs running OS 8.6 or higher; for older 68k Macs running OS 7.1 or higher, use version 3.0. Windows, Unix, Sun, and even Palm OS versions are also available. Acrobat Reader software can be downloaded at http://www.adobe.com/.)
Adobe Acrobat is the full version of the software. Acrobat allows users to create PDF files from any application, including Microsoft Office. The resulting files can be opened by anyone on any platform who has a copy of Acrobat Reader. An Acrobat file can be a brochure, a catalog, a form, even an entire book. Files can be compressed to be significantly smaller than the original document, an enormous advantage for storing documents and moving them across the internet.
That’s the basic description of Acrobat, but it has many other very useful capabilities as well. Acrobat 5.0 is a powerful tool for anyone working as part of a team on a writing or design project, and indispensible for collaborators working from different locations. Acrobat allows PDF documents to be edited, annotated (with virtual sticky notes, highlighting and voice annotation), and commented on by multiple reviewers. Reviewer comments can be sorted by author, date, type or reviewer, making it easier to cut through the confusion when several people have a hand in shaping a document. In Acrobat 5.0, reviewers can now annotate a document from within a web browser.
Acrobat 5.0 also shines for managing documents from the web. Web pages and even whole web sites can be downloaded and converted into PDF documents, while keeping the links active. This allows web pages to be archived, emailed and printed. Digital signatures and the Self-Sign feature allow you to sign a document, to verify that a document was signed legitimately, and see whether a document was altered after it was signed.
In settings where document security is important, documents can be password protected. Documents can also be locked to different degrees, to prevent people from printing, altering or using content for other purposes.
With Acrobat 5.0, you can create interactive PDF forms with buttons, pop-up menus and text boxes. These forms can calculate and validate data that’s entered, and they can be designed to look exactly like their paper form equivalents.
Acrobat 5.0 also allows you to take text and images from a PDF file (as long as the document is not locked) and add it to a document you’re creating in another application. For example, text can be copied from a PDF file, saved as RTF (Rich Text Format), then pasted into Microsoft Word or another word processor. A photograph or graphic can be extracted from a PDF file in a standard image format, then imported into a document.
Acrobat is the cross-platform standard for electronic document distribution, and Adobe keeps on expanding the ways that documents can being produced and used. With more and more information being read on hand-held devices, Acrobat 5.0 has added the ability to format documents to be read on a Palm, PocketPC or other PDA. Taking PDF creation in another direction, Adobe recently launched a subscription service for converting documents into PDFs online.
Users of Adobe Acrobat 5.0 should update to version 5.0.5, which provides support for OS X and Microsoft Office.
– Elsa Travisano

Adobe Acrobat 5.0
System Requirements: PowerPC processor; Mac OS 8.6, 9.0.4, 9.1, or OS X, 32 MB of available RAM (64 MB recommended); 150 MB of available hard drive space; CD-ROM drive.

Copyright ©2002 by Elsa Travisano. This article originally appeared in the October 2002 issue of Newsbreak, the newsletter of MUG ONE - Macintosh User Group of Oneonta, NY.
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