My latest title for the the online video tutorial company, Lynda.com, covers the newly-released Acrobat Pro “X” (meaning “10”). Be sure and pronounce it “ten” otherwise Adobe people are authorized to slap you.
Acrobat X Essential Training
I’m really rather happy with how it turned out; I was able to touch on all the areas I thought needed touching in an Acrobat Essentials title, including multimedia, forms, portfolios, redaction, shared reviews, OCR, digital signing, preflighting, and even a chapter on Reader X and Acrobat.com.
But learning the program well enough to record all the lessons I wanted to on it was an unexpected ordeal. I even had to stay a few extra days at Lynda.com’s recording studio to finish it, a first for me. I didn’t think it’d be so bad, since I’ve been using Acrobat since version 2, and wrote my first magazine feature article about it (“I Didn’t Know Acrobat Could Do That”) way back when version 4 came out. (One tip from that article showed how to convert a a pasted PICT image in a PageMaker file into an editable Illustrator graphic via Distiller. Also, how to rewind unspooled tape back into an 8-track.)
Look what they’ve done to my program, Ma
The main problem I kept running into was that Acrobat X’s interface is so different than previous versions, I kept having to stop to figure out what happened to a feature that I assumed had to still be there, but wasn’t … or perhaps it was, but I couldn’t find it. Was it a Mac vs. Windows issue? (A number of features are only available in the Windows version.) Did Adobe move the feature’s location in the interface? Or is it completely gone?
For example, if you’re looking for the File > History list, the one that lists the PDFs you’ve opened today, over the last 7 days, over the last 14 days and so on … that’s gone. Not in Acrobat X. So is File > History > Organizer, Acrobat’s Bridge-like app devoted to the PDF format. Poof, gone. What’s galling is that they didn’t even try to replace that deleted feature with the logical replacement, a button or link to Adobe Bridge. I believe Bridge is made by the same company, at least that’s the rumor. If you ask the Acrobat team, they’ll tell you that their target market doesn’t use Bridge, doesn’t have Bridge, never heard of Bridge. Their target market uses Microsoft Office. Their target market in their dreams, I guess. (grumble. Why do I feel like an ex-wife?)
I actually do love the new interface in Acrobat X, the elegant panels on the right that silently expand and contract like a jQuery menu, and no more googly Disney-esque icons in the toolbar. The new interface doesn’t just look good, it makes my work easier. The new Tools panel, for example, gathers all (almost all) of the scattered functions found in previous versions of Acrobat into one single panel with subpanels.
Note that by default, not all the Tools subpanels are visible. In other words, don’t have a heart attack, the Print Production tools are still in Acrobat, even if you don’t’ see the subpanel at first. By default, Acrobat X hides some subpanels, similar to how the Creative Suite programs install with a workspace that shows just a subset of panels in the panel dock. To access any of the hidden Acrobat X subpanels, choose them from the itty-bitty menu icon directly below the Tools | Comment | Share header.
Now … can you save the arrangement of opened and closed subpanels as a workspace? Can you save the tools you’ve added to the QuickTools toolbar? Let me ask you this: Can you save a workspace in Word? Because if you can’t (you can’t), then why would you ever want to in Acrobat? Silly boy. It is to laugh. Who needs workspaces when you have … um. Uh. Erm. Oh, look, there’s a pretty birdie in the sky!
A few common Acrobat features ended up in weird places. Don’t bother looking for the Compare Documents command in any of the Tools subpanels (the Content subpanel would make sense), it’s actually in the View menu. And, if you want to run the PDF Optimizer (with the handy Audit Space Usage button), you’ll find that in the File > Save As fly-out menu (choose Optimized PDF).
A couple bad decisions from the past are still intact, such as keeping the oft-overlooked Reflow command in the View > Zoom fly-out menu. Viewing a PDF in Reflow mode has nothing to do with changing the Zoom percentage, but what the heck. Think of Reflow as the foreign exchange student bunking in the den of the Zoom household.
Goodbye, old friends; hello, workarounds
Things I miss: I miss being able to quickly attach the current email to a PDF by choosing File > Attach to Email. In Acrobat X, you go to the Share panel to find the command, but my Share panel always takes a few seconds too long to appear — just enough to be irritating — because it’s checking that I’m logged in with my Acrobat.com account, in case I want to use their SendNow service.
I miss choosing File > Save As and actually have the program saving the thing as! You know what happens when you choose File > Save As in Acrobat X? Nothing. You stare at the computer a second wondering “why didn’t that work?” until you remember that in version X, you have to highlight File > Save As, keep the mouse button down so the Save As fly-out menu appears, drag to the right to select the first item, “PDF,” and *then* let go of the mouse. Fun times! My doctor noted my blood pressure and recommended I use the Save As keyboard shortcut instead (Command-Shift-S/Ctrl-Shift-S).
I miss being able to choose File > Create PDF > From Blank Page to quickly create a one-page PDF document without needing to run any other program or export or convert any other file, period. It’s so handy to conjure up a cover sheet or test a copy/paste operation or do all sorts of miscellaneous Acrobat things that don’t call for anything more than a blank page with some typing on it.
Now, if you want to *insert* a blank page into an existing PDF, no problem. You’ll find the Insert a Blank Page command in the Tools panel. Look in the Pages subpanel and choose it from the Insert Pages > More Insert Options menu. Even better, if you choose this command with no PDFs open, guess what? You fool Mother Nature, and create a new, standalone, blank PDF document.
The problem on the Mac side is that you can’t get to the Tools panel unless you have a PDF open. Catch 22. So the uber secret for Mac users is to close all PDFs and then press the Insert a Blank Page keyboard shortcut: Command-Shift-Q. (Are you thinking, hmmm, isn’t that the Mac OS X command to quit all applications and log out? Yes it is, dear. If any program other than Acrobat X is the active app. Keeps you on your toes, what! Jolly good.)
Upgrading to Acrobat X
The upgrade fee to go from from Acrobat Pro v7, 8, or 9 to Acrobat Pro X is $199. That’s if you have a standalone copy of Acrobat Pro, though — that is, if you bought it separately from the Creative Suite as a single product.
If you’ve got Acrobat 7, 8, or 9 because it came with the Creative Suite …like, virtually anyone I’ve ever met … here’s how to upgrade it to Acrobat X:
1. Wait for the next version of the Creative Suite.
2. When it comes out, pay for the Suite upgrade.
3. The end.
(If you can’t wait and really want Acrobat X now, you can always buy it as a standalone product for $449US. I see that Amazon has it for $409 and change.)
I’d say that’s rantworthy, wouldn’t you? Hey, at least it’s egalitarian; both Mac and Windows Creative Suite users are in the same boat. (Except … there is *still* no trial download of Acrobat Pro X for Mac users. Just Windows users. grrrr.)
The problem is that the Creative Suite and Acrobat are on two different development schedules. In the past, Adobe threw Creative Suite users a bone. To wit: When CS3 came out, it shipped with Acrobat 8, and when Acrobat 9 came out a few months later, Adobe offered a “CS3.3” interim upgrade, aka a “dot release,” to its CS customers almost immediately. For about $200 (as I recall) you got the new Acrobat and also a copy of Adobe Fireworks. As a CS3.3 owner, it was also slightly less of a cost to upgrade to CS4 when it was released (compared to CS3.0 users).
According to the Adobe Acrobat X Pro FAQ (http://j.mp/axprofaq), Acrobat X will be in the next dot release of the Creative Suite .. CS5.X … but they haven’t made any announcement when that release might occur. And when they make an announcement, it’s usually another few weeks before the product is actually shipping.
However you go about it, when you do get your hands on Acrobat Pro X, I’d love to hear what you think.