Adobe has been riding high on the success of the portable document format (PDF), and the Acrobat creation tools needed to generate them. Later in the year version 6.0 will be launched, but in the meantime we have a preview of Acrobat Professional 6.0 Beta.
The main differences between version 5.0 and 6.0 are immediately obvious. The interface has been retooled with a decidedly Microsoft XP styling, in particular the large "How to. . ." task pane on the right hand side, but that's not all. Under the hood there have been some major changes to the way Acrobat operates. Key to this is support for drag and drop, simplifying the creation of more complex PDFs.
Another key enhancement is its file support. A pull-down 'Create PDF' button gives you options to create a PDF from a single file, multiple files, Webpage, scanner or from clipboard. Creation from multiple files opens a dialog box where you can add files, reorder them and then create a single PDF. So much simpler than dragging pages around, as was done with 5.0, particularly stitching existing PDFs together.
File formats supported in this manner include: BMP, JPG, GIF, JPEG2000, PCX, PNG, PS, TIFF; AutoCAD; Microsoft Office files; Microsoft Project and Visio files and of course PDF. The box lets you reorder and group these files, then the software does the rest (popping up relevant third-party programs to process differing file types, such as Word for DOCs).
The second major enhancement is for advanced reviewing and commenting facilities – something that Microsoft is seeding throughout Office 2003. These advanced options allow you to send PDFs for review, say, via email, with only the changed parts returned (saving considerably on bandwidth). This alone makes PDF a valuable business document format.
When the full version is released we'll bring you a more in-depth look at this product, with the full range of Acrobat Elements from Standard to Professional.