Adobe's standard PDF-creation utility hits version 10, with a few new abilities
Acrobat X Standard builds on the latest Reader X so the main benefits of the new platform are already in place: the simplified interface, the new clean-screen reading mode, better sandbox-based security and more.
The most important capability that Acrobat X Standard adds to the feature set is the ability to create your own PDFs quickly and easily. With print-to-file capabilities you can produce PDFs from any application. However, for the main Office applications – Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Publisher and Outlook – Adobe provides dedicated add-ons to simplify publishing and to enable extra functions such as support for links. You can also capture web pages to PDF using Acrobat X Standard’s Web Capture capability.
As well as creating PDFs, Acrobat X Standard lets you do far more with them, all via the new task panes. The Share pane offers the same email, SendNow and CreatePDF capabilities as Reader X, but Comments has more powerful annotation tools as well as review tracking and aggregating functions. If you send a PDF for review, you also now have the option of hosting the review copy via SharePoint.
The one unique task pane is Tools, which has a range of options, such as Pages, Content, Forms and Sign & Certify. Click on Pages, for example, and it expands to show further Rotate, Delete, Extract options and more. It sometimes takes a while to find things, but the new centralised approach makes the software’s power more transparent and accessible.
As for new power, various enhancements have been spread out across existing tools. Choose to encrypt a file and Acrobat X Standard now checks the strength of your chosen password. Open the Recognize Text commands and the enhanced scanning technology makes it easier to automatically convert colour, greyscale and black and white documents into searchable PDF archives. Save your PDF or selection to Word or Excel format and Acrobat X Standard makes a better job of retaining graphics, text formatting, columns, tables and so on.
There aren’t any major new features, but Acrobat X Standard does bring out the best in its existing capabilities. This enables PDF to become central to a whole range of important workflows: paperless archiving, workgroup collaboration, form handling, document signing and so on. The problem that remains for Adobe is that PDF is an open standard, and there are plenty of competitors offering similar power for a lot less money.