Adobe Unveils Acrobat XI, Now With Cloud Services2:03 PM EST Mon. Oct. 01, 2012
Adobe today unveiled Acrobat XI, the latest version of its PDF authoring platform that now integrates with a series of cloud services designed to ease and help automate document flow for the enterprise. In its 11th major iteration, Acrobat now fully integrates with Microsoft Office and SharePoint, and it includes interface enhancements developed specifically to simplify its use on tablets. General availability is expected to be around Nov. 1.
Designed to simplify the process of circulating forms in need of multiple approvals, a new service called FormsCentral provides a central Web-based repository for an organization's forms and an automated process for distributing them to stakeholders, regardless of where they might be located. "Forms look the same regardless of device or browser," said Mark Grilli, Adobe's senior director of product marketing for Acrobat Solutions, at a confidential pre-launch press briefing. "The form can be designed to display only the fields that are needed," with more fields added dynamically depending on the selected parent fields, he said while demonstrating the new cloud service.
For $14.99 per month, the service will give any device with the Acrobat Reader app access to cloud-based forms to add and highlight text, sign off and forward via email to the next person in the list. "You can control who signs what, when and in what order," said Grilli of the service. Signatures can either be captured as a finger scribble or as a handwritten font, he said. And if the signer is logged into his EchoSign account, then any account-specific fields such as name and title are automatically populated.
With Acrobat XI, Adobe has now fully integrated the features of EchoSign, the electronic signature service it acquired last year. Also priced at just under $15 per month, the service provides a central repository for all of an organization's signed contracts and other documents for easy access and retrieval. "This eliminates the problem of having contracts scattered throughout a building or across many buildings," said Grilli. EchoSign also allows document signing from within Salesforce, and it can optionally use Salesforce as an additional repository.
NEXT: Acrobat XI Interface Enhancements
The user interface in Acrobat XI is consistent with that of Acrobat X; it still presents all PDF authoring and editing tools on the right-hand side of its creator window. In a welcome change, font formatting controls are now part of the top-level toolbar rather than being buried. When moving screen objects, guides pop up right on screen to aid with alignment. When clicking on an image, its editing tools pop up. The new version also now retains image position and scaling when replacing one image with another. This will be a huge time-saver when updating old forms or creating new ones from old.
A new "Export to PowerPoint" feature doesn’t require Office to be present to perform the conversion. When opening a converted PDF, it appears as the original but is editable within PowerPoint; vector graphics are converted to PowerPoint shapes and work just like any other PowerPoint object. Adobe's conversion algorithm even attempts to recreate the master slide layout, and it did so quite well in the demo. PDF files also can be saved to Excel and Word formats.
Adding a new touch to Acrobat XI, the tool now detects tablets and other mobile device types and can enable touch mode, which spreads icons out for easier access and better accuracy and control. The tool also now understands and supports touch device gestures such as flip-to-scroll and pinch-to-zoom. And while Acrobat XI doesn't run natively on non-Windows tablets, the Adobe solution invokes the Citrix Receiver to provide a conduit to the app running on a Xen server. It's also compatible with Microsoft's App-V solution. "For the bring-your-own-device [trend], we have a way to let you run Acrobat on those devices,” said Adobe's Grilli.
Acrobat XI is scheduled to begin shipping direct and through authorized Adobe resellers next month starting at $299; upgrades start at $139.
PUBLISHED OCT. 1, 2012
This story was updated on Oct. 3, 2012, at 11:38 a.m. PST, to accurately reflect Acrobat XI's is priced at $299, not $229.