Adding More Function To Adobe Reader

You may look over the new Adobe Reader 8 and wish for more features or wonder why Adobe Systems didn’t add more to the newest release. If the thought occurs to you, keep in mind that Adobe Systems offers the Reader software free of charge. Adobe Reader is certainly one of the most feature-rich applications that can be acquired without purchase.

If you want more from Adobe Reader, you do have other purchase options available to you from Adobe Systems. From PDF creation to saving form data for enterprise solutions, Adobe does make these features available to you in the form of online services and server-sideapplications.

If your clients or colleagues don’t have Acrobat Standard or Acrobat Professional and they need to create an occasional PDF file, they can download the free Adobe Reader software and choose File >> Create Adobe PDF Online.

Create Adobe PDF Online is a Web service from Adobe Systems that permits users to upload documents of several different file types. The user uploads the file(s) to Adobe’s Web site, where it is then converted to PDF and sent back to the user.

A free trial period enables you to create your first five PDFs free of charge. After the fifth PDF creation, the cost is $9.99 (US) per month or an annual subscription of $99.99 (US) per year.

Create PDF Online supports many different file formats. The native document formats are as follows:

  • Microsoft Office. All Microsoft Office files for Mac and Windows.
  • Other Microsoft formats. Microsoft Publisher is supported.
  • Adobe formats. Those programs not supporting direct export to PDF, such as earlier versions of PageMaker without the PDF plug-in, are supported. All Creative Suite programs now support export to PDF and using a service to create PDF files is not necessary.
  • AutoDesk AutoCAD. AutoCAD is supported.
  • Adobe PostScript formats. Any program you use that’s capable of printing can be printed to disk as a PostScript file. You can submit the PostScript file for conversion to PDF.
  • Text formats. All ASCII (American Code for Information Interchange) and Rich Text Format (RTF) files can be converted to PDF.
  • Image formats. Most of the common image formats such as Windows bitmap (.bmp), GIF (.gif), JPEG (.jpg/.jpeg), PCX (.pcx), PICT (Macintosh) (.pct/.pict), PNG (.png), RLE (.rle), and TIFF (.tif) can be converted to PDF.
  • Corel WordPerfect Office formats. Corel WordPerfect files can be converted to PDF.

In addition to Create PDF Online, Adobe also offers Create a Protected PDF Online where you can order PDF creation and security online. Adobe continually adds new services. To see the latest offerings for online services select Help >> Adobe Online Services.

The advanced tools in Adobe Reader for comment and markup, save forms, and digital signatures are features that are available through the Adobe LiveCycle Reader Extensions Server.

For users of earlier versions of Acrobat, Reader Extensions enabled users of Adobe Reader versions below 7.0 to perform comment and markup, save forms, and digital signatures functions.

The Adobe LiveCycle Reader Extensions Server is an enterprise solution intended for large companies that have the technology and resources to offer cost effective solutions for many users or those who want to automate processes like adding these enabling rights to PDFs.

As an example, for 250 users, individual costs break down to about $60 (US) per user. The addition of enabling documents for Reader users in Acrobat Professional to save form data and add digital signatures carries limitations in the End User License Agreement.

For enterprise solutions where the needs exceed the licensing limitations, the Adobe LiveCycle Reader Extensions server offers unlimited use of PDF files enabled with usage rights. For information about Adobe LiveCycle Reader Extensions Server, log on to Adobe’s Web site.

If you stop and think for a moment, software developers have to be struggling continually as a product is upgraded to determine what features need to be added and what features can be safely removed without creating problems for the user community.

As we evolve with software development, it would be virtually impossible to retain all features while adding new features for any program. At some point the application would become so large, performance would greatly suffer. Currently, the download for Acrobat Professional on the Mac exceeds 1 gigabyte.

To keep adding more features without eliminating the least used features would expand the program from 1 gigabyte to 2, then to 3 and so on as the program evolves. At some point the performance would deteriorate even on the most powerful computers.

As we upgrade software we will no doubt continually see some features eliminated in favor of newer features meeting more users’ needs and conforming to new technology developments. Features lost in Reader 8 include the Picture Tasks tool and Digital Editions Bookshelf.

You can no longer work with Pictures Tasks and the tool won’t appear when you open image files, files created in Adobe Photoshop Album, or Adobe Photoshop Elements. The Digital Editions Bookshelf really hasn’t been lost. It’s actually been revamped and improved and is now called the Adobe Digital Edition Library.

Some of the features you had with the Digital Edition Bookshelf don’t appear in the Adobe Digital Edition Library, such as creating categories and subcategories. However, the new user interface makes reading eBooks and Digital Editions more pleasing and appealing.

Adobe is a company that assesses each new product upgrade according to user feedback to determine what features are most often requested and what features are least used. This feedback shapes the development for the next product upgrade.

If you find a particular feature eliminated in a product upgrade, then voice your complaint. If enough users ask for a feature, you’ll see the feature return or be implemented in the next release. But be aware: A voice of one won’t change the development of a product. Adobe can respond only to the majority of users.

Viewing PDF Files

Acrobat viewers provide you with many different kinds of tools to view pages and move around PDF documents. As a visitor to PDFs created by other PDF authors, you can use many tools within the program to browse pages and find information quickly.

As a PDF author you can create viewing options and links to views you know will help the end user explore your files. If you’re familiar with Acrobat 7 viewers, you’ll find little change with viewing options in Acrobat 8. Some of the tools have been reorganized a little, but their uses and the menu commands options are very similar to earlier versions of Acrobat.

Because Acrobat can do so many things for so many different working professionals, Adobe Systems didn’t intend for you to use all the tools and palettes in each editing session. Therefore, you have the opportunity to open and hide different tools and palettes depending on the kind of edits you want to make.

Open a context menu (right click Windows or Control click Mac) on the Toolbar Well and select More Tools. Scroll to the Page Navigation toolbar and check all tools. Scroll down to the File Toolbar and select the Organizer tool. Scroll further down to the Select and Zoom toolbar.

Check all tools and make certain a check mark appears adjacent to the Page Display Toolbar. Open a context menu on the Toolbar Well and select Dock Toolbars. Return to the context menu and select Button Labels >> All Labels. This view shows the names of tools within toolbars to help you become more familiar with tool names.

After loading toolbars and making choices in the context menu opened from the Toolbar Well, your Toolbar Well should look like Figure below.

Several tools and menu commands provide a means for navigating pages and documents. When you’re familiar with alternative methods, you can leave the Navigation toolbar hidden, especially if you’re using other toolbars that occupy a lot of room in the Toolbar Well. If you’re new to Acrobat, keep the Navigation toolbar open.

Perhaps one of the most difficult things for most of us to experience is change. Once we become familiar with some form of standard, we like to keep things simple and uncomplicated. The Acrobat User Interface (UI) has changed appearance in Acrobat 8 compared to all earlier versions of Acrobat.

With regard to toolbars and views, you can immediately see a difference in the UI in Acrobat 8. If you want to regain a little of the familiar, there are a few things you can do to get the appearance of the Acrobat workplace similar to what you’re familiar with in earlier viewers.

Follow the steps here to design your Acrobat work environment to regain more of a familiar view as you had with earlier Acrobat viewers. Note that what follows in the steps below is a matter of personal preference.

  1. Set Preferences. A couple of Preference items will get you to a more familiar look when using Acrobat 8. Open the Preferences dialog box. The preference items to change include the following:
  • Minimized document views. Click Documents in the left pane to open the Documents preferences (Windows only). If there’s one thing I really hate about the new UI, it’s having Acrobat windows minimized to a document’s page size.

Ten levels of toolbars get you a view like a page thumbnail in the Document pane. To prevent your files from defaulting to this view, remove the check from the box where you see Show each document in its own window (requires restart).

As the item description points out, you need to quit Acrobat and relaunch before the preference setting takes effect. This preference setting opens all your PDFs in a single window with one Toolbar Well.

If the check box is enabled, each document you open has a separate Toolbar Well. For the Mac users, unfortunately you’re stuck with the minimized view in Acrobat and all PDF files open with separate Toolbar Wells. There is no preference option on the Mac to change the default view.

  • Enable single key accelerators. Click General in the left pane to open the General preferences. This option has always appeared off by default in Acrobat viewers since the preference was added to the General preferences. Check the box for Use single-key accelerators to access tools.

Doing so means that when you’re working on a document and you want to easily access the Zoom tool, you press the Z key. Pressing H gets you the Hand tool, and so on. There are many more preferences that apply to specific editing tasks and they are covered later.

For now, these preferences in Acrobat can help shape your editing environment for viewing and navigating PDF files. Remember though, these are all personal preferences and you can feel free to change items to suit your workflow.

  • Always show document page size. Click page Display in the left pane to open the Page Display preferences. In earlier versions of Acrobat, a document’s page size was reported in the document window.

This is a critical bit of information for engineers, creating pros, and others who work with files other than standard letter sizes. By default, the information is not displayed. In the Page Display preferences check the box for Always show document page size.

If you don’t have the Always show document page size preference enabled, you can see document page sizes by moving the cursor to the lower left corner of a page. A pop-up display opens when the cursor is positioned in the lower-left corner reporting page sizes in the current established units of measure.

  1. What happened to the Status bar? Another change in the UI in Acrobat 8 is the elimination of the Status Bar. Adobe removed the Status Bar because it often conflicted with your operating system status bar (the Status Bar on Windows and the Dock on the Mac).

This new view provides you more room to view document pages and once you get used to viewing PDFs without the Status Bar, you’ll find the removal of the Status Bar to be a nice addition to Acrobat. If you really want to return to a view similar to earlier Acrobat viewers, you can add toolbars and dock them at the bottom of the Acrobat window.

The point is that Adobe has provided you with the flexibility to customize the Acrobat workplace to suit your personal taste. As an initial default, I recommend you don’t dock toolbars at the bottom of the Acrobat window and use the program.

You’ll soon find that working with keyboard shortcuts and tools in the Toolbar Well will satisfy all your viewing needs without having to load toolbars at the bottom of the Acrobat window.

  1. Quit Acrobat. After you customize your toolbars and preference settings, quit Acrobat. Acrobat remembers the last settings you made to the toolbars arrangement. Just in case you start moving toolbars around for temporary views, you can return to your initial default by first quitting Acrobat, then restating the program.
  1. Relaunch Acrobat. Open Acrobat and your settings will appear as you left them before quitting.