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Product: Acrobat 9 Professional
Company: Adobe
Website: http://www.adobe.com
MSRP:
$449.00 Upgrade: $159
Standard Version: $299 Upgrade: $99
Review By: Robert Stein

Introduction

Adobe has recently released a new edition of one its mainstay software products - Acrobat 9. The application, the best for taking advantage of the portable document format (PDF) comes in a few flavors: Acrobat Reader 9, the ubiquitous free version available on the web, as well as the more robust versions - Standard, Pro, and Pro Extended. Adobe has continued to expand the versatility for the company's PDF format, adding new features in version 9 such as 256-bit encryption, video playback within PDF files, and commenting/markup features just to name a few. Does Acrobat 9 live up to its predecessors' reputation and justify the cost? Read on to find out.

New Features:

  • Insert video in PDF files
    Insert FLV or H.264 video in PDF files for direct playback in Acrobat and Adobe Reader.

  • Work with Acrobat.com
    Use Acrobat.com services with Acrobat to store and share large documents, collect form data, and review documents with virtually anyone, anywhere.

  • Convert e-mail to PDF (Enhanced)
    Archive e-mail or e-mail folders from Microsoft Outlook or Lotus Notes as PDF files to facilitate easy search and retrieval*.

  • Unify a wide range of content in a PDF Portfolio
    Combine documents, drawings, e-mail, and spreadsheets in a single compressed PDF Portfolio.

  • Use professionally designed templates
    Choose one of many professional templates to quickly integrate content, define navigation, and add polish to your PDF Portfolio. Add your logo and include descriptions to guide recipients through the contents.

  • Help secure PDF documents
    Help protect PDF documents with 256-bit encryption.

  • Help protect attached files (Enhanced)
    Help protect all the documents in your PDF Portfolio with 256-bit encryption.

  • Easily review video
    Comment on video using any of the commenting and markup tools to add feedback to a specific frame.

  • Easily track reviews (Enhanced)
    Use the Review Tracker to monitor progress and participation in shared reviews. View the status of reviewers, e-mail reviewers, send e-mail reminders, or invite additional participants to a review.

  • Modify and end reviews
    Use the Review Tracker to add and change review deadlines, end reviews, delete reviews, and start a new review with the same reviewers.

  • Synchronize document views
    Help colleagues, clients, and partners get on the same page at the same time with the ability to co-navigate documents. To provide clarity and enhance discussion, use Acrobat.com services to enable collaboration on a PDF file. Then distribute the PDF file and walk recipients through it in real time by controlling the page view they see.

  • Easily create and manage electronic forms
    Use the new Form Wizard to convert Microsoft Word and Excel documents or scanned paper to fillable PDF forms.

  • Create dynamic forms (Enhanced)
    Use Adobe LiveCycle Designer, a professional form design tool included with Acrobat 9 Pro, to further customize and automate dynamic XML forms.

  • Verify compliance with PDF standards
    Get details on compliance with the new PDF Standards pane, which provides information on PDF/A, PDF/X, and PDF/E

All Features:

  • Create and reliably share PDF documents
    Easily convert any document that prints to PDF to preserve formatting and ensure document integrity.

  • Easily convert files to PDF
    Convert documents to PDF with one-button ease from Microsoft Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook, Internet Explorer, Project, Visio, Access, and Publisher, as well as Autodesk® AutoCAD® and Lotus Notes*.

  • Scan to PDF with OCR
    Scan paper documents to PDF and automatically recognize text with optical character recognition (OCR) technology to create compact, searchable PDF documents.

  • Capture web pages as PDF Enhanced
    Convert complete web pages, or just the portions you want*, including or excluding rich and interactive media. PDF versions of web pages are easy to print, archive, mark up, and share.

  • Convert and share 2D CAD
    Convert DWG files to Adobe PDF files without using AutoCAD or AutoCAD LT.

  • Maintain individual file settings
    Maintain digital signatures and security settings within each individual PDF file and form when combining them in a PDF Portfolio.

  • Merge multiple documents into one PDF file
    Combine documents, drawings, and rich media content in a single polished PDF document. Optimize file size and arrange files in any order regardless of file type, dimensions, or orientation.

  • Include only the pages you need
    Specify which pages, layouts, or sheets should be included from source files in your final, merged PDF file or PDF Portfolio.

  • Optimize PDF output
    Select from multiple file size and quality settings to optimize PDF output for your intended purpose.

  • Quickly regenerate a PDF Portfolio
    Re-create a PDF Portfolio after revising source files, without having to locate and gather the native files again.

  • Unify with headers, footers, and watermarks
    Automatically remove headers and footers from source files and add unifying headers, footers, or watermarks to your merged PDF file or PDF Portfolio.

  • Attach native files
    Share source files by including documents in their original, native formats.

  • Help protect data with passwords and permissions
    Use passwords to help control access to PDF documents. Use permissions to restrict printing, copying, or altering. Save passwords and permissions as security policies that can be easily applied to new PDF files.

  • Permanently remove sensitive information
    Use redaction tools to black out sensitive text, illustrations, or other information, permanently deleting the content from the PDF document.

  • Remove hidden data
    Inspect PDF documents for metadata, hidden layers, and other concealed information, and remove it before distributing the files to others.

  • Certify PDF documents
    Use digital IDs to certify documents, signifying that they came from a trusted source.

  • Sign documents digitally
    Apply digital signatures to authenticate documents, manage their status, and help protect against unauthorized modification.

  • Include Adobe Reader users
    Extend digital signature capabilities to anyone using free Adobe Reader software (version 8 or later).

  • Include Adobe Reader users
    Enable anyone using free Adobe Reader software (version 8 or later) to participate in e-mail- or server-based reviews using all of the commenting and markup tools in Acrobat 9, including notes, stamps, highlighting, lines, shapes, and more.

  • View and print comments
    Easily compile all comments into a single PDF document. View and print feedback for easy reconciliation. Sort comments by author, date, or page. Search comments for words or phrases.

  • Conduct e-mail-based reviews
    Initiate a document review in PDF via e-mail. Merge inbound comments and markups from all reviewers into one PDF document with a single click.

  • Export comments to Word or AutoCAD
    Select and export comments back to your original Word or AutoCAD file. Comments appear in Word as tracked changes and in AutoCAD as a separate layer.

  • Compare PDF documents
    Automatically highlight the differences between two versions of a PDF document, including text and images, so you can quickly and easily identify what has changed.

  • Manage electronic document reviews
    Gain the input you need through interactive, shared document reviews that help participants see and build on other reviewers' comments, which can be sorted by author, date, or page.

  • Optimize form distribution
    Easily distribute forms, combine collected forms in a single document or view for easy filtering and analysis, and export collected data to a spreadsheet†.

  • Easily track forms and participation
    Use the Form Tracker to see when forms have been completed and by whom and to send reminders.

  • Get started with form templates
    Take advantage of an existing library of common form templates, such as human resources forms, invoices, and expense reports.

  • Create and validate accessible PDF documents
    Ensure your PDF documents are optimized for people with disabilities. Create accessible PDF documents from almost any source to help comply with standards. Quickly evaluate, correct, and automatically tag PDF documents for optimized accessibility and reflow.

     

Installation

Installation on both Windows Vista Business/Ultimate and Windows XP Pro operating systems is a breeze, and took less than ten minutes total to complete, both on machines that had Acrobat 8 Pro installed, as well as clean machines. The install on Vista took a whopping 1.5 GB, so make sure you have the room prior to installing. Adobe also has the option to participate in their continuous improvement program (similar to Microsoft's), more information about that is here: http://www.adobe.com/misc/apipfaq.html. No restart is necessary, but you have to accept the user agreement before starting.

Interface & Layout

The interface of Adobe Acrobat 9 is nearly identical to the previous edition, with not many changes, but still having a nice of array of features. You have full customizability of the toolbars, navigation panes (as shown below), ability switch from normal mode to reading mode or full screen mode, add rulers/grids, use cursor coordinates, use the "read aloud" feature (note, think WarGames type computer voice), change the page display mode (one page continuous, one page single, etc.), rotate and more.

New Features

Encryption

You can now encrypt PDF documents to the 256-bit level in Acrobat 9, either by creating encryption via security certificate (using an preexisting Digital ID or one-create on the spot with Acrobat), or using the encryption via password feature (picture below). On this page, you can choose what level you what like the document encrypted. There is a drop down with compatibility options with the previous Acrobat versions, ie. Acrobat 7 & 8 can handle 128-bit AES, Acrobat 6 can handle 128-bit RC4, etc. as well as options to set passwords for opening the document, etc. The security features are fairly significant, and Adobe provides easy access to show all the document's security settings, policies and more.

Acrobat.com Services (Review / Markup Features)

Some of the new collaboration features involve the new Adobe Buzzword on Acrobat.com. This site offers a ton more features than we can cover here, so we will focus on just the ones involving Acrobat 9 Pro. Even if you do not have the software, however, I recommend you visit the site because it is pretty cool.  As noted on the website, "Welcome to Buzzword®, Adobe's Flash-based word processor. Buzzword is part of Acrobat.com — the new offering from Adobe® which includes web-based file sharing and storage, create PDF services, and on-line web conferencing and screen sharing. " Anyway, to take advantage of these tools, first open the PDF document you would like to share. Under the collaborate menu, click send for review, fill out the form and create a Acrobat Buzzword account (right in Acrobat 9 Pro). Fill out the form to whom you want to send, and click send. The document will upload to acrobat.com, the person will receive an e-mail notifying its available, they then can go to the website and make changes. Meanwhile, back in Acrobat 9, you can in real-time check and see if any comments have been added, and accept them. Also, you can track all changes by reviewers using review tracker. Please check out the photo sequence below to more accurately see how the process is completed. The features are a really nice plus to Acrobat, and are a plus to employees across multiple offices who may not want to use a shared network drive to exchange comments. By using this service, all comments and changes are directed back to the author for his/her approval. You can also comment, and review all the integrated video content.

Form Wizard

Adobe has created a new form wizard to, in conjunction with LiveCycle Designer, to help create forms for a variety of functions such as timesheets, invoices, etc. You can use form tracker, similar to review tracker, to manage all the forms responses, etc. as well as export the form data to Word, Excel and more. With this feature, there is also Quickbooks integration on common QB forms such as Purchase Orders, Invoices, etc. to help the small business.

Portfolio Maker

In Acrobat 9 Pro, you can create PDF Portfolios. PDF Portfolios are packages of PDFs organized how you want them to be distributed, in addition to such features as welcome screens, custom colors/images, and more. Simply go to "create portfolio" and select the files you want to add. Then, modify the portfolio's unique aspects using the toolbar on the right, and when done click "publish." The portfolios can be used by anyone using Adobe Reader.

PDF from a web page

One of the great features that has been enhanced in this version to allow the other new features Adobe has added. For example, click "create PDF from web page" enter in the adobe.com address, and then Acrobat downloads the entire page, working flash content and all, into Acrobat for publishing to a PDF file. Very handy!

Office 2003 & 2007 Integration

Adobe Acrobat 9 Professional integrates perfectly with Office 2003. In the office programs, such as Word, Excel, Outlook, etc. a Adobe PDF drop down menu will be added to the menu bar. With PDF maker, you can easily convert Office files individual PDFs. For example, within Outlook (see below), you can convert individual files or folders, on a schedule, etc. To combine Office files, go into the main Acrobat program.

In Office 2007, you need to choose if you want to use the PDF Maker, I would recommend not installing the Microsoft PDF add-in, as they do not work nicely at all. You really should choose one or the other. For more detailed information, I've included some important links on Adobe's website that explain known issues within Acrobat 9 and in particular a list of fixes for the Microsoft issues if you encounter them.

Final Comments

How It Grades

Installation: 95%
Features: 97%
Ease of Use: 90%
Price/Value: 85%
Documentation/Help: 92%
Overall: 91.8%

As you can see, Adobe Acrobat 9 Professional is a very robust program with a ton of features. In an office environment, the cost of either the full version or the upgrade is definitely worth it, especially when used for collaboration purposes across users in many offices using Acrobat.com and the review/markup features. The PDF from web feature is very handy, and the fact of the automatic integration with embedded Flash content without additional steps is impressive. In addition, for marketing/advertising/pr, etc. users I feel the portfolio tool is useful in presenting multiple documents to one user. The new security features, combined with the already good redaction features, makes Acrobat perfect for law office use. The layout and interface are user friendly, with many options to customize as you need. For the individual user, due to the cost I recommend either the standard version or just using the default PDF add-in in Office 2007 if your needs are not too great.

 

Specs & Package
Overall Score 91.8%
Version Reviewed Acrobat 9 Professional
Release Date Out Now
The Good Points Adobe Buzzword Integration
Security Features
PDF from a Web page
Flash Integration
Portfolio Maker
The Bad Points Office 2007 & Acrobat Pro 9 Do Not Play Nice
Full Version Pricey
Important Information Acrobat 9 Known Issues: Adobe Website List

PDF Maker Does Not Work in Office 2007

In The Box
 CD, Manual
Similar Product Adobe Acrobat 9 Standard, Pro Extended
System Requirements

Acrobat Pro for Windows

  • 1.3GHz or faster processor

  • Microsoft® Windows® XP Home, Professional, or Tablet PC Edition with Service Pack 2 or 3 (32-bit and 64-bit); Windows Server® 2003 (with Service Pack 2 for 64-bit); or Windows Vista® Home Basic, Home Premium, Business, Ultimate, or Enterprise with or without Service Pack 1 (32-bit and 64-bit)

  • Internet Explorer 6.0

  • 256MB of RAM (512MB recommended)

  • 2.13GB of available hard-disk space

  • 1,024x768 screen resolution

  • DVD-ROM drive

  • Video hardware acceleration(optional)

Acrobat Pro for Mac OS

  • Acrobat Pro for Mac OS

  • PowerPC® G4 or G5 or Intel® processor

  • Mac OS X v10.4.11 or 10.5

  • 256MB of RAM (512MB recommended)

  • 1.42GB of available hard-disk space

  • 1,024x768 screen resolution

  • DVD-ROM drive

 

 

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