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The New Face of PDFs
by Dr. Merle Marsh, 04/09/09

When you think of a PDF, you probably envision a boring document that anyone can open if they have the free reader that can be downloaded from Adobe. That's all changed with Adobe's Acrobat 9 product line. You'll still need the reader, but the look and feel of the new PDFs will amaze you. Adobe has created a very special way of packaging just about anything digital that you might want to share with others. This doesn't mean the end of those lack-luster PDFs, but it does mean that your future will probably include creative PDFs, along with dynamic presentation of PDF files.

Acrobat 9 comes in three varieties: Acrobat 9 Standard, Acrobat 9 Professional, and Acrobat 9 Pro Extended. If you'd like to compare these three products, Adobe offers a Product Comparison Chart to help you understand the abilities of each. The top-of-the-line product is Acrobat 9 Pro Extended, which is available for Windows Vista and XP users only. Macintosh users will find, however, that Acrobat 9 Professional (Mac) offers many, but not all of the options available in Pro Extended.

When I first saw these products, I thought, "Wow, this is really neat. I'd like to be able to do that." I learned that I could place different types of digital media into a folder and have it almost magically transform into a PDF that I could send, post, or save. Using Pro Extended, for example, it's possible to embed video into Microsoft documents, add 3D images, include links to Web pages, capture Web pages and insert your own notes on them, create PDFs using interactive map files, work with surveys, and share and collaborate cross-platform. This is just a sampling of what this product can do.

Acrobat 9 looks perfect for individuals and companies that work with design and engineering, and for companies and individuals that engage in global collaboration. But how does it fit into the school market? One of the big problems for schools is price, but there's a significant difference in pricing among the different Adobe Acrobat 9 products.  School administrators and tech leaders might not need or want all the options available in Pro Extended, and they may decide that the standard or pro editions are best for their needs. Thinking realistically, this is not a product that schools will add, at least at this time, to more than one (or perhaps a few) computers.  Someday, I predict, all computers will have options like those available in the Adobe Acrobat 9 products.

When you think of the different types of media created in our schools and the multitude of programs educators and students use to create media, products like this that can tie everything together and make it readable and usable by most, seem destined to make it into our school resources. Think of what this type of product could do for student portfolios.  How about presentation of student work to parents? How about transfer of student files to other schools? How about college applications? How about materials for students with learning problems? How about student global collaboration?

Additional Information:

Windows Vista/XP

Adobe Acrobat Pro Extended ($625.00, Amazon)

Upgrade: $209.99

Adobe Acrobat Standard 9 ($265.49, Amazon)

Upgrade: $89.99

Adobe Acrobat Professional ($407.49, Amazon)

Mac OSX

Adobe Acrobat Professional ($449, Amazon)

Upgrade:  $156.49



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