Next-Gen Electronic Documents a Boon for Manufacturing Pros

New Adobe Acrobat product line goes beyond document “PDF” creation to enhancing knowledge workers’ abilities to communicate and collaborate on technical projects.

Adobe Systems Inc., San Jose, Calif., has introduced a new family of Acrobat products designed to provide knowledge workers with tools for communicating and collaborating with confidence across the boundaries of operating systems, applications and firewalls. The Acrobat family consists of Acrobat 8 Professional, Acrobat 8 Standard, Acrobat 8 Elements, Acrobat 3D Version 8, Acrobat Connect and Acrobat Connect Professional.

Acrobat 8 features a new user interface, making it easier to combine, sign and protect Portable Document Format (PDF) files, as well as interact with PDF forms, review or collaborate on documents and launch a real-time Web conference.

“We are revolutionizing how the world engages with ideas and information,” declares Rak Bhalla, Acrobat product manager. The idea is to provide for the interaction of both documents and people, he adds.

Five Cs

Bhalla says the new products revolve around “the five Cs” of create, combine, control, collect and collaborate. Users can create and optimize Adobe PDF documents from many sources and combine files from multiple applications into a single document container. They can control access to a document and preserve content integrity—which is especially important to engineers who need to share design information with potential suppliers without giving away underlying intellectual property. Users can streamline data collection with Adobe PDF forms. And finally, they can manage, organize and extend feedback to expedite document collaboration.

Key benefits cited by Bhalla are the ability to accelerate design collaboration, leverage 3-Dimensional assets for rich interactive publishing—for service manuals or on the Web, enable Computer Aided Design (CAD) interoperability in the supply chain, and utilize Adobe Reader for 3-D visualization and collaboration.

The Acrobat 8 product line introduces several major innovations in the areas of document collaboration, PDF content reuse, PDF forms, packaging of multiple documents, and controlling sensitive information. For example, shared reviews put collaboration within the reach of virtually anyone with access to a shared network folder and Adobe Reader 2. A participant in a shared review can see comments posted by others, track the status of the review, and work even when not connected, reducing duplicated work and enabling large groups to collaborate more efficiently. Acrobat 8 also enables PDF content to be exported into popular formats to enable reuse and repurposing of content.

All Acrobat 8 products, including Adobe Reader 8, provide one-button access to Adobe Acrobat Connect. Connect is an easy-to-use, hosted software service that provides immediate access to a personal meeting room for real-time Web conferencing. It is said to be the first Web conferencing and collaboration solution to offer “always-on” personal meeting rooms. After buying a subscription, all that is needed for a Web conference is a Web browser with Flash Player software.

Online meetings

Acrobat Connect enables users to choose a simple and easy-to-remember Web address for their online personal meeting room, with unlimited usage for up to 15 participants for one low monthly fee. The personal meeting rooms in Acrobat Connect are readily available, making it easy for knowledge workers to hold spontaneous, ad-hoc meetings, while helping to save time and increase productivity, Adobe says. A custom Uniform Resource Locator (URL) address enables fast and easy-to-remember access to each user's personal meeting room, just like a phone number or e-mail address.

The Acrobat Connect hosted service provides users with essential collaboration tools, such as screen sharing, white-boarding, chat, video conferencing and audio conferencing. Acrobat Connect enables anyone with a Flash software-enabled Web browser to join a Web meeting without having to download cumbersome software. Because the Flash Player is installed on more than 97 percent of Internet-connected computers worldwide, the experience of joining an online meeting is said to be hassle-free. Additionally, with one-button “Start Meeting” access from Acrobat 8 and Adobe Reader 8 software, users can also launch Acrobat Connect directly from a document to start collaborating immediately.

For online meetings with multiple presenters, online events, and live virtual classrooms, Acrobat Connect Professional provides power users and larger organizations with a full-featured Web conferencing solution. Beyond the baseline functionality of Acrobat Connect, Acrobat Connect Professional offers a rich set of collaboration tools. These include support for large meetings, reporting, content management, extensive user and meeting management capabilities, support for interactive multimedia, integrated telephony, and Voice over Internet Protocol. In addition, developers can use the Acrobat Connect Collaboration Builder SDK to create custom interactive applications such as engaging learning games and simulations.

Availability

Acrobat 8 Professional for Microsoft Windows and Macintosh and Acrobat 8 Standard for Windows are expected to be available in November 2006 in English, French, German, and Japanese versions. The Acrobat Connect hosted service is expected to be available in November 2006 as a free trial version through the end of the calendar year. The commercial release of Acrobat Connect, initially available in English, is expected to be available in early 2007 for a subscription price of $39 per month, or $395 per year per user. Acrobat Connect Professional is expected to be available in December 2006. It is expected to be available in English, German, French, Japanese, and Korean, and will be licensed on a named user, as well as concurrent port basis.

Adobe Systems Inc.
www.adobe.com/acrobat


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