Adobe Acrobat X Pro
Adobe AcrobatX Pro is a multitalented business application. You can use it to lock down electronic documents, create press-ready color pages, or produce form-laden documents that feed data to a database. Judging from the beta I tried, the latest iteration will be much more Web-aware, and it will be able to bring new life to formerly staid, static electronic documents.
PDF portfolios, introduced in the previous Acrobat version, remain the program's highlight. It's useful to be able to import files of many different types into a PDF portfolio--an electronic document that contains, for example, a Word document, images, PowerPoint presentations, and video files. Acrobat X greatly improves PDF portfolios, allowing you to import live Web content--including streaming video--into a portfolio.
Acrobat X Pro's greatly revised interface makes portfolios and simpler documents easier to assemble and to share, too. The company obviously put some thought into their organization, and the addition of collapsible toolbars and some icons really helps clean things up.
But the new layout has some limitations. For example, you can specify colors that you want to use in your document(s), and simply click in a palette of color bars to change colors. But it's a little difficult to figure out what will change when you click on a color. Furthermore, Acrobat X Pro has no color picker. You can select from a wide assortment of hues, but you can't use an eyedropper to match a shade that's already in your doc. You can't import a color-swatches file, either, as you can in Photoshop.
The ability of collaborators to insert comments into PDFs isn't new, but now even users of the free Acrobat X Reader can insert comments. You can also set up a PDF to track reviewers' comments by using Acrobat.com, your own internal network server, a Web server, or a Microsoft SharePoint workspace. Then you can see who has responded to your document invitation, get alerts from Acrobat or Windows when people make comments, filter comments by reviewer, and even export all the reviewer information to an Excel spreadsheet. And if you frequently process PDFs with the same commands, Acrobat X's new Action Wizard may save time and keystrokes.
If you're trying to pull content from already-produced PDFs, improvements in Acrobat X make that chore a little easier. For example, you can now highlight text or a table in a PDF, choose 'Export As', and send the content to a Word file, an Excel file, HTML, or XML. I found this approach worked very well, with the minor exception being that the background color of a table's header row didn't accompany the table into an HTML file. That's easily fixed, however, and I now have an easier time selecting the right text.
Other improvements: Adobe says that Acrobat X's scanning feature creates smaller files, and that the optical character recognition engine is more accurate than before. In my use, it did a great job of creating searchable text within the documents I scanned. Keyboard shortcuts now work when viewing PDFs in a browser, and Protected Mode Security puts PDFs into a secure "sandbox" whenever you're looking at them online. When you're password-protecting PDFs, you'll see a new password strength meter.
Acrobat X Pro strikes me as a substantial upgrade--and Adobe has done well in making its upgrades more accessible to the nonprogrammers among us.
Note: The Download link takes you to the vendor's site, where you can download the latest version of the software. To read PCWorld's full review, please see Adobe Acrobat X Pro Gets a Face-Lift and Improves Features.