September 25, 2006
Adobe Acrobat 8 Zeros in on AEC Professionals
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Susan Smith - Managing Editor

by Susan Smith - Managing Editor
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Welcome to AECWeekly! Dual announcements this week from Adobe: the launch of Acrobat 8 targeting AEC professionals, and Acrobat Connect, which is a rebrand of Acrobat Breeze, a web meeting collaboration tool. Acrobat Connect targets a wider audience of people who have the need to combine different types of information such as email, web pages, and RSS feeds as well as design and engineering files. Read about this announcement and other trends in this week's Industry News.

AECWeekly is a news magazine featuring important industry news profiles, a summary of recently published AEC product and company news, customer wins, and coming events. Brought to you by AECCafe.

AECWeekly examines select top news each week, picks out worthwhile reading from around the web, and special interest items you might not find elsewhere. This issue will feature Industry News, Acquisitions/Alliances/Agreements, Announcements, Awards, New Products, and Upcoming Events.

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Susan Smith, Managing Editor

Industry News

Adobe Acrobat 8 Zeros in on AEC Professionals

by Susan Smith

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Dual announcements this week from Adobe: the launch of Acrobat 8 targeting AEC professionals, and Acrobat Connect, which is a rebrand of Acrobat Breeze, a web meeting collaboration tool. Acrobat Connect targets a wider audience of people who have the need to combine different types of information such as email, web pages, and RSS feeds as well as design and engineering files.

Adobe's acquisition of Macromedia last year brings in the Connect presentation tool and well known Flash Player, used to show the demonstration I watched.

Acrobat 8

Adobe is seriously addressing the needs of the AEC market in this release of Acrobat 8, which will be available in November, with the latest release of
Adobe Acrobat 3D available next spring.

According to product manager for the Knowledge Worker Business Unit, Michael Folkers, in any AEC project you've got a highly distributed team and a whole variety of potential technical boundaries such as an operating system, firewall, security policies of the company, formats or authoring applications for those formats. In addition, you have workplace boundaries, varying types of information such as CAD drawings, schedules, Word documents, Excel files, imaging and forms. Also the climate includes team members in other geographic locations.

The Knowledge Worker Business Unit at Adobe includes the full Acrobat family as well as Acrobat Connect. In a recent a survey conducted across entire AEC industry, Adobe found that more than 50% of people are required to travel outside their office in a given month. "They want to use technologies like web conferencing to reduce their travel costs because of the competition in the industry and the need to be more efficient," said Patrick Aragon, product marketing director. "There are only 15% today in the industry using this type of technology."

In just the past two years, Adobe has distributed 525 million copies of their free Adobe Reader. Folkers noted that there are other versions that have been redistributed by their customers of which they don't have a count. Their PDF-E solution focuses on engineering requirements, and since Acrobat 6, they have been including 3D PDF and addressing the AEC market more specifically.

How customers can use Acrobat 8--

- Combine files from multiple apps into a single document container

- Manage, organize and extend feedback to expedite document collaboration , and with Connect can interact through real time web conferencing

- create PDF documents from many different sources

- streamline data collection with Adobe PDF forms

- control access to a document and preserve content integrity

- integration with Acrobat Connect

Highlights of Acrobat 8 –

- A PDF Maker comes with AutoCAD that allows you to create intelligent PDF. This means that the PDF has attributes associated with the DWG, such as layers in the content, searchable text, and embedded scales. You can add layers individually or create layer sets, then you can convert this file to PDF. It also has the ability to not embed scale information.

- Batch conversion – Instead of creating PDFs one at a time, now you can add whole folders, add files, Autodesk sheet sets and convert them to PDF in a batch.

- You can drag and drop DWG directly onto Acrobat Professional and create intelligent PDF. The LT user that has a larger installed base than AutoCAD can now create intelligent PDF.

- Combine is a new feature in Acrobat that allows you to combine supported files in Acrobat. Disparate file types can also be combined in the new combined interface.

- Granularity selection tool - You can now select individual sheets from the documents. It is available all office content formats and DWG.

- Back button – When you get to the end of creating a document and you find you want to change something, you can save it and go back and edit your content without having to recreate the package.

- Package – sortable columns of metadata which are a package of content that you can create custom metadata for. A great feature of the package is the ability to sign individual sheets with digital signature without having to sign all the sheets in the package.

- Added support for digital signatures, making it possible for those who don't have Acrobat 8 (who only have Reader) to sign documents. People with free Reader can complete forms, save them off line and send them back.

- Share review or email review – with a shared review, people with Reader on their desktop, can see comments as they're being made and the commenting tools are available to them.

For some time now, some CAD vendors such as Bentley and Graphisoft are outputting 3D content into a PDF. Adobe said that any of those can be brought into Acrobat 3D and further manipulated or scripted or combined with other files. Adobe Acrobat also supports files from DWG and from any application that uses OpenGL to display their 3D content. According to Folkers, you can capture that content using Acrobat 3D Revit.

Comparing Acrobat with Autodesk's DWF Composer, Folkers said that "the ability to combine multiple content types quite rapidly in Acrobat, with the end result being a searchable document and creation of PDF," is what sets Acrobat apart from DWF Composer.

Also, "if you're on a project, you can't guarantee that the person on the other end is going to have a full version of your product, whether it's DWF composer or Acrobat," Folkers pointed out. "That's why we're investing in capability for downstream users to actually leverage things like the commenting tools, even if they only have the free Reader. Our customers want to enable people on the other end to do something with the content."

Acrobat 8 Professional pricing is an estimated street price of US$449. Acrobat 8 Standard has an estimated street price of US$159.

Acrobat Connect

Today Flash Player is on 98 percent of internet-enabled desktops worldwide. This is a distinct advantage for anyone using Acrobat Connect web conferencing collaboration product, because more than likely the person on the other end has Flash already installed on their computer so they don't have to install any software.

As mentioned above, Acrobat 8 integrates with Acrobat Connect, extending the reach of content to a much broader audience through conferencing and collaboration. Connect targets small to medium sized businesses, while a Connect Professional version targets larger businesses. There is also a collaboration builder SDK for those who want to develop on that platform.

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