Adobe Acrobat 9, making web design / development easier?

One of the fortunes I have had in my career is the starting and participation of the Detroit chapter of Refreshing Cities, dubbed “Refresh Detroit.” We have had a lot of great local and national speakers come in. While my favorite speakers have always been the local talent and learning the great things they are doing with the web in our little corner of Michigan, we had the pleasure of having Doug Halliday from Adobe speak to us about the upcoming release of Adobe Acrobat 9.

While Doug’s job is the business development of the manufacturing vertical at Adobe, through his presentation I learned of a lot of exciting features that will provide huge advantages to us web designers / developers.

PDFs, more than documents

Many people (me included) have become to think of PDF’s as simply a format for rendering documents across browsers/platforms. However there have been a lot of powerful features added to Acrobat that extends the functionality much beyond document rendering. This new release for example, boasts an impressive 350 new enhancements to PDF’s and PDF creation.

New Features

One of the most powerful new features of Acrobat 9 is the integration of different media types including Flash. We now have the ability to embed not only flash video into PDFs but also Flash Applications. I assure you this opens more possibilities than simply being able to add a video into a word document. Consider the ability to easily create a PDF portfolio built on flash. You can send your clients on PDF file that only requires a free reader, and they can browse through all of your work in a nicely defined and professional PDF “application.”

More on portfolios

The new version of Acrobat also offers the ability to create a specific compound package called a “Portfolio.” A Portfolio is a pre built flash application embedded in a PDF that can contain any file that you would like it too. For example this could be 5 images, 2 pdfs, 1 flash video, and a word document. Rather than send a prospect your image portfolio, maybe some rich media you have worked on, and your contract all in separate attachments you could instead package them into a portfolio and send them one PDF. The Portfolio has a pre built impressive navigation interface based on flash (kinda feels like itunes), and will automatically launch any embedded document in the appropriate viewer.

Adobe Acrobat 9 preview 1

Adobe Acrobat 9 preview 2

Adobe Acrobat 9 preview 3

Capturing Web pages

The third feature that truly excited me was the ability to capture entire web sites. And by capture I don’t mean take a screen shot. Acrobat 9 has the capability to actually capture live entire web sites and deposit them into a PDF — fully functioning. It seems like a lot of server side scripting won’t work of course, however if you are producing a brochure site you could send a client the progress of your site in a fully functioning PDF. They could click through every page and see all of the flash, javascript, images, etc just like it was a web site.

Clients could then go through the entire site and add comments, notes, etc to every page before sending it back to you with all the attached feedback. Much better than any other solution I have encountered for feedback workflow and web pages.

Finally Acrobat 9 has full support for, a free online service that allows you to share and collaborate on PDF documents live with other people around the world. Very powerful for document development and creation.

There were a lot of other features in Acrobat 9 like full 3D rendering support for CAD/Engineering files, forms, etc… but these were the features that seemed most beneficial to us web developers.