Despite a remarkable number of new features such as the Print Production Toolbar, the Organizer, and new preflight tools, Adobe’s Acrobat 7 Professional looks surprisingly familiar to anyone accustomed to version 6. The menus have been rearranged, but they are well structured and noticeably easier to navigate. The same is true of Acrobat’s toolbars, which have been reorganized in a more user-friendly fashion.
Acrobat 7 Professional now sports its own version of Photoshop’s File Browser called Organizer, which helps you keep track of recent PDFs and navigate collections of documents. Organizer takes the guesswork out of finding a particular file. In Adobe’s new Creative Suite 2, Photoshop’s File Browser is a much-improved standalone application called Bridge. Organizer, however, is not affected by this change, as it is available only within Acrobat.
New Features for Print
Acrobat’s Print Production toolbar is an outstanding new feature that gives you quick access to functions such as Output Preview, Preflight, Convert Colors, Ink Manager, Add Printer Marks, Transparency Flattening, PDF Optimizer, and a JDF Job Definitions manager.
In Acrobat 7 Professional, you can easily define presets for trapping, verify the amount of ink when previewing output, convert colors, and set color aliases in the Ink Manager. Furthermore, you can add printer marks to a PDF file, but in most cases you’ll have to first extend the boundaries of the document by cropping the page. It would be more logical if the Add Printer Marks command automatically invoked Crop Pages–or rather it could be called Crop & Extend Pages, as this name would be less confusing.
The Callout and Dimensioning tools in the Drawing Markups toolbar introduce additional flexibility. (Click image to open full screenshot)
Additional new features enhance the program. The Fix Hairlines command rids a document of any hairline by broadening it to a predefined width. This way you don’t have to go back to the original application you used to create the document. Moreover, you can temporarily or permanently flatten transparencies, more-efficiently optimize PDF files, and generate JDF job definitions. To facilitate secure exchange of PDF/X-compliant documents (which do not support security settings), Acrobat 7 Professional can wrap them in an encrypted archive called eEnvelope.
New in Distiller
Distiller 7 sports updated presets, new compression settings in PDF 1.6, and color image policies for a more reliable color processing. Adobe’s PDF review workflow and the Review Tracker, promising innovations first introduced in Acrobat 6, no longer have their functionality restricted to commercial versions of the software. In Acrobat 7 Professional you can set up a document so that the file enables commenting features in Adobe Reader 7. This is clearly a quantum leap for PDF-based reviewing because it can be applied with the free software.
Acrobat 7 also sports numerous other enhancements. Users can add watermarks, footers, or headers to a PDF file more easily, very much like in Microsoft Excel, and also place text or files in the foreground or background of a PDF. The Callout and Dimensioning tools in the Drawing Markups toolbar, as well as the TouchUp Reading Order and the 3-D tools in the Advanced Editing toolbar, introduce additional flexibility. However, placing 3-D objects in a PDF requires Adobe Atmosphere, a product that isn’t available for the Mac. Also, to activate some additional usage rights in Adobe Reader 7 you must provide (server-side) Adobe LiveCycle Reader Extensions, which run on the Windows, AIX, and Solaris operating systems-but unfortunately not yet on Mac OS X Server.
For the prepress and print industry, Acrobat 7 Professional is another step in the right direction. With this release, some expensive third-party plug-ins are no longer necessary, so upgrading will quickly pay off. The much-enhanced preflight now supports newer PDF/X standards as well as PDF/A, lets you create droplets for automation, and even converts files to PDF/X.
Macworld’s Buying Advice
This is a very impressive update for a fair price. For the first time, users of the free Adobe Reader 7.0 can participate in a review workflow initiated in Acrobat 7 Professional. For many workgroups this finally brings about the end of a paper-based workflow and lets workgroups go completely digital.