I’ll bet you’re as excited as I am that Acrobat 9 has
finally been released. What?! You didn’t camp out in
front of your local computer store so you could be
the first in line?
ACROBAT’S MULTIPLE PERSONALITIES
Keep in mind that Acrobat isn’t just a player in the
graphic arts realm: Its importance in enterprise and
technical documentation environments inspires the
inclusion of features such as LiveCycle Designer for
forms (Windows Pro and Pro Extended) and 3D
Reviewer for CAD users (Windows Pro Extended).
Note that Acrobat Pro Extended is a Windows-only
product. Consequently, some of the new features
in Acrobat 9 aren’t the thrill for designers that
they might be for architects, industrial designers or
the creators of technical documents. In this article,
though, I’ll highlight some of the new and enhanced
features that are important to graphic artists.
HOW TO UPGRADE
Because Acrobat ships on its own independent
schedule, if you own Acrobat as part of one of the
Creative Suites, you’ll have to purchase a “dot-release”
upgrade to CS3.3 to get the new Acrobat.
Upgrade pricing is $159 from Design Suite CS3
Standard or Premium. If you are upgrading from a
CS or CS2 Suite, the upgrade is $599.
Note: Be sure to purchase the correct upgrade.
If you have Acrobat as a stand-alone product (i.e.,
not as part of a suite), you need to purchase the
point product upgrade. (The stand-alone upgrade
to Acrobat 9 Pro is $159 from Acrobat 6, 7 or 8
Pro or Standard.) Buy a suite upgrade if you have
Acrobat as part of a suite. The suite upgrade consists
of two discs: One installs Acrobat 9, and one installs
Fireworks CS3, which Adobe throws in to sweeten
the deal when you upgrade the Premium version of
the suite (sorry, Standard users don’t get Fireworks as
part of the upgrade).
New to the Acrobat family is Acrobat 9 Pro
Extended, but again, it’s only for Windows. It does
not ship as part of the 3.3 Creative Suite upgrade,
so if you own Acrobat on Windows as part of the
suite, you’ll have to do an outright new purchase of
Acrobat 9 Pro Extended, which is $699. It’s available
as an upgrade to stand-alone installs of Acrobat 6, 7,
8 or Acrobat 3D for $229.
Note: Acrobat 9 Pro Extended is part of the
Technical Communication Suite, which has been
updated to version 1.3 to include the new version
SHOULD YOU UPGRADE?
If you own a previous version of Acrobat, what
might compel you to upgrade? Here are the features
in Acrobat 9 Professional (and Extended) that are
most attractive to creative folks:
If you receive art or ad files as PDFs from clients,
you’ll appreciate Acrobat 9’s enhanced ability to
check files for problems. And while the ability to
edit some aspects of a PDF is still limited (notably
text), other editing capabilities are expanded in
Overprint Preview: The page display preference
now contains an option that allows you to control
when to use Overprint Preview—always, never, only
for PDF/X files or automatically (triggered when a
PDF contains overprinting objects).
Object Inspector: This new option in the
Output Preview dialog provides color, font and overprint
information for any object you select. Choose
this option, then select any object (image, text or
vector content), and resolution, color space, rendering
intent, dimensions and other information will be
displayed in the Output Preview window (figure 1).
Sample size: You can choose a sample size—point sample, 3 x 3 average or 5 x 5 average—for the
“rolling densitometer” feature of the Output Preview
window. Additionally, you can control the opacity
of the Color Warnings that highlight overprinting or
rich black objects.
Enhanced preflight and fixup functions:
Preflight profiles (Advanced > Preflight) can perform inspections on PDF files using a set of rules, and
even fix some common problems. You can inspect
PDFs for issues such as image resolution, incorrect
color space, security settings—even minimum text
size. Fixups are repair procedures.
While Acrobat has offered preflight features
since version 7, and fixups were introduced in version
8, Acrobat 9 Professional greatly expands the selection
of included checks and fixups, including such
handy things as making Pantone ink names consistent.
For example, in a PDF with Pantone 128C,
Pantone 128U and Pantone 128M, a fixup can combine
all three into one ink. Acrobat uses the name of
the first ink (alphabetically) in the list, and permanently
changes the content of the PDF. Preflight and
fixup functions are available under Advanced > Print
Production > Preflight.
Improved document comparison: With Acrobat
9, you can more easily compare two versions of a PDF
to see what’s changed. In previous versions of Acrobat,
changed areas were outlined in magenta “balloons,”
but it was still up to you to figure out exactly what
was different within the area. In Acrobat 9, choose
Document > Compare Documents, browse for two
documents to compare (or choose from currently
open files) and Acrobat displays a copy of the newer
version of the PDF—with comments and highlights
to indicate changed areas. Roll over the highlight, and
the older version of the content is displayed (figure 2).
Where’s the user guide PDF?
While Acrobat, like many applications, includes
access to locally stored HTML-help resources under
the Help menu, previous versions of Acrobat have
also included a more extensive user guide as a PDF,
either on the install disc or buried somewhere in the
installed files. The PDF user guide is more comprehensive
and searchable than the HTML help, and
it’s printable. But it’s also a bit harder to find this
time. On some pages of the Help, you may notice a
hyperlink for Community Help (Adobe.com)—click
that, and you’re on the trail. There, in the upper-right-hand corner of the window, is a pale link to
the PDF (figure 3). At 509 pages, it’s much more
useful than the HTML help, and I highly recommend
While there are still limits to the changes you can
perform to PDFs, Acrobat 9 Pro and Pro Extended
both offer some enhancements to editing tools.
For example, the Ink Manager invoked in Output
Preview or from the Print Production toolbar causes
a temporary remapping of spot colors, which casts
its magical spell only if you output directly from
Acrobat in that work session. Close and reopen the
file, and all your extraneous spot colors are back.
But, new for Acrobat 9, the Ink Manager option
that’s available through Convert Colors (Advanced
> Print Production > Convert Colors) actually
remaps spot colors permanently. Save the file, and
your spot colors stay remapped. Yes, I realize this is
profoundly confusing: It might have been nice to
give the functions different names, such as “Remap
for Current Output” and “No Kidding—Remap My
Another new fixup, “Convert registration color
to black,” converts registration-colored text (100
percent of all colors, including CMYK and spot) to
black-only, and the Preserve Black option in Convert
Colors fixes RGB text intended to print as black-only
(many Windows applications produce black content
as solid RGB values).
Tired of e-mailing a PDF back and forth, taking
turns reading each other’s comments? Try live online
viewing instead. Choose Collaborate > Send &
Collaborate Live, and you’re taken to Acrobat.com.
Sign in with your Adobe ID; if you don’t have one,
you’re prompted to create one. An e-mail message is
generated for potential collaborators, and the PDF is
attached. The recipients open the PDF and are automatically
led to the shared online session. You also
have the option to post the PDF on Acrobat.com
and just send a link to collaborators.
Note: Collaborators must have Acrobat 9
or Reader 9 to participate, but they don’t need
to have an Adobe ID; they can sign in as guests.
While you can’t see each other’s comments, there’s
a chat window for online conversation. When one
viewer pans, zooms or navigates to another page,
all viewers see the same view. One limitation:
Participating parties can comment, but can only
save their own comments.
Gather up multiple files—including many types of
non-PDF files—in one container with this successor
to PDF Packages. The files in a PDF portfolio
maintain their individual identities: You can preview
many image formats, as well as Flash files and
MP3s, without needing the original applications. To
edit files within a portfolio, click the Open button
displayed in the portfolio, perform the necessary
edits in the original application, and save. The modifi
ed content is written back into the portfolio.
Note: You’re opening, editing and saving the file
stored in the portfolio, not the original file that was
invoked when you made the portfolio.
You can choose from several portfolio layouts,
which govern the way the portfolio pages display,
and third-party developers can build their own layouts.
You can add a welcome page to introduce the
portfolio with custom text, images and Flash movies.
You can add headers to all pages, consisting of custom
text, contact information and images. Choose
from 16 different color schemes, or define your own.
Recipients will need Acrobat 9 or Reader 9 to have
the full portfolio experience.
BUT WAIT, THERE’S MORE ...
Acrobat 9 is a major, feature-packed revision; I
couldn’t possibly detail all the enhancements and
additions in the allotted space here. If you handle
PDFs in your workflow, it’s a must-have upgrade.
For a complete feature comparison between Adobe
Reader, Acrobat Standard, Acrobat Pro and Acrobat
Pro Extended, see www.adobe.com/products/acrobat/matrix.html.