Adobe Acrobat is a program that genarates 'portable' documents, meaning documents
that can be emailed, posted on the web, distributed on CD-ROM or other media for
viewing or printing applications in what Adobe calls "portable document format",
or PDF format.
How useful Acrobat can be for you really boils down to two things:
- The type of work
you do on your computer
- The precision you
require for the projects you work on
Acrobat's really dominates its competition because Adobe not only designed the program,
it also designed the file format. Not to be confused with Acrobat Reader (which only
views PDF documents), Acrobat 5 generates PDF formatted documents, allows you to
edit them, and includes a host of great features.
Text and graphic editing tools:
- Text editing
- Text re-formatting
- Text addition
- Simple vector-based
shape and line creation
NOTE: Text editing
features require that the PDF file actually have text to edit.
- Creating bookmark
links within the file
- Creating thumbnail
links, big and small
- Creating clickable
buttons within the file
- Creating an link-based
outline of your document
Most of Acrobat's features are located in it's toolbar. The toolbar has an Adobe-palette
feel to it. This familiarity helps users to become comfortable with this program.
The bookmark, outline link and thumbnail views are all docked on the left side of
the screen. In the viewer program, these view options give you alternate ways of
accessing PDF files, and is especially useful when they are lengthy and complex.
Acrobat's strength lies in how it generates the PDF document. It does it by capturing
the poscript file created when printing from another software program, and then converts
it into a PDF file. Basically, any program you are able to print from can create
an Acrobat file. Now, how good a file is created varies by the program, although
most programs are able do a fine job generating a PDF.
One notable program that did not generate high quality PDF files was VirtualPC. For
some reason, the PDF documents came out at low resolution. Word, Internet web pages,
etc., all performed very well, creating nice cross-platform files.
Creating PDF Documents
This is the magic of the Adobe Acrobat program. Most users will use Acrobat to create
PDF files to send to others and use in their printing and on-line projects. Acrobat
provides users two printer drivers to create your PDF documents: Distiller and PDFWriter.
Each is designed for different users.
Distiller gives you a large number of options to control your PDF output. It is your
'machine shop' to manage your output, whether it will be designed for print, on-line
posting or publishing. With it you can control the types of text, line art and graphic
compressions, font embedding options, and more.
PDFWriter is a more user-friendly driver. It simplifies the output without overwhelming
the non-technical user with complex options. To top it off , it includes the most
useful output options.
When it comes to PDF creation, Acrobat does have some competition. A few other programs
also create PDF files. One of them, Print2PDF, is a $20 shareware application, and
it gives you many of the options of PDFWriter, but without the extras of the complete
Acrobat program. This is a viable option for users who don't want or need to fiddle
with a PDF file after creating them. Likewise, OS X's PDF output capabilities appear
to be even more simplistic, but also lacking the full features of PDF editing contained
within Acrobat 5.
Acrobat 5 is a fantastic program with a lot of nice touches to fashion really useful
electronic manuals, brochures, simple presentations for on-line and print uses. The
program's usefulness increases given that the PDF format is a worldwide standard
being used and viewed by just about everyone, using Adobe's Acrobat Reader and web
I recommend this program as a definite asset to anyone's software toolbox. The gems
of this product are Distiller and PDFWriter. If all you want is to create PDF files,
then Print2PDF may be enough for you and easier on the wallet. However, if you want
to manipulate those PDF files, or would like more extensive options during the creation
process, then Acrobat 5 is the tool to use.
- Easy to use
- Many features and
- Works with most programs
that can print
- High price tag (many
of its features are more than what an average Mac user will use)
out of 5 Mice