Acrobat 8 – lets clarify myth vs fact

Eric Lam has interpreted some of my comments at the recent Canberra Adobe Acrobat 8 roadshow as “Microsoft bashing” so I thought i’d take a moment to clarify my statements based on Eric’s comments

== Eric’s MYTH #1 ==

Microsoft Office is bloatware when it comes to saving files. The demo shown in the presentation was around 8.5Mb in size but if it was PDF’ed, it was around 500Kb.

== Eric’s FACT #1 ==

Ok, Mark had a fair point by illustrating the huge difference in file size, but I have a challenge for Mark. Try and edit your PowerPoint slide deck in Acrobat and see if you have the rich functionality as Office does. I bet you will have none. In the 2007 Microsoft Office system, the file size is also dramatically improved since the user has the ability to save in XML.

My comment

PowerPoint files are big.. see, here is a 8.5Mb PowerPoint file. I don’t recall saying it’s bloated, but the reality is as we all know that PowerPoint files can be big. Which is better to email? 8.5Mb or 500k? Would you edit the presentation slides in Acrobat? No.. i suggested that if you want to let someone edit the file you could ALSO attach the original ppt file into the PDF and the result was still a smaller file due to PDF compression. If you need to send around presentations to people, PDF is the best format unless the end user needs to edit the deck. If they do, attach the ppt as a PDF attachment.

== Eric’s MYTH #2 ====

Users will use the functionality in Acrobat 8 to archive their emails from Outlook since PST files are too messy to play with.

Eric’s FACT #2 ==

I don’t recall anybody in the audience putting their hands up to say they will use the feature. In my opinion, the email archival feature is something that is a waste of time since it is not easy to use. PSTs are not messy to play with. It’s simply pointing your Outlook profile to the appropriate PST.

My comment

Uggghh – you show me one person who finds it easy to deal with pst files.. it’s not like you can just double click and open them and share them between people. What if I want to share my email with someone on Mac or Linux? What if they don’t have Outlook? I’m sure the technical readers among you will find this trivial but your typical office user has better things to do. Again my suggestion is to move project based emails into something that is archivable and readable by anyone, hence PDF. We started this feature off in Acrobat 7 and our customers have not only asked us to automate it, but also add support for Lotus Notes as well (both are now part of Acrobat 8 )

== Eric’s MYTH #3 ==

Acrobat’s export feature will allow people to go from PDF back to Word and retain the same format

== Eric’s FACT #3 ==

An absolute bulldust useless feature!!! To the amusement of attendees, Acrobat 8 did not export tables correctly despite Mark saying this is an improved feature. The tables were skewed and made unreadable and the general formatting was a joke

My comment

The Export to Word feature is a quite common request, its actually been part of Acrobat in previous versions but Adobe made an extra effort to make people aware it exists in Acrobat 8. Would you believe that people were purchasing additional software to do this when they had the function in their copy of Acrobat?As for the tables being skewed, Eric may have missed the point. The PDF that was originally a Word file converted perfectly with tables intact. An audience member asked if i could export a Powerpoint slide deck converted to PDF back to Word and at the time i expected and stated the results to be poor, and admittedly they were (note to self, never demo something that you know will not work). Let’s be clear though.. the export to Word feature is fantastic and is in high demand.

== Eric’s MYTH #4 ==

Acrobat 8 starts up very quickly==

Eric’s FACT #4 ==

In this smoke and mirrors demo, Mark was already running Acrobat so he closes it down and relaunches the application. As if by magic, Acrobat 8 starts within 3 seconds. Uh Mark, if that’s how you prove applications launch quickly because you are essentially doing a relaunch, then it works with most programs. It would have been better if you were running Acrobat from a cold start

My comment

Ok you got me, Acrobat had already been started (i quit the app, but i wasn’t going to reboot) but the reality is that Acrobat 6 was painful and Adobe’s customers complained, but Acrobat 7 and now Acrobat 8 start up fast! Adobe listened and the problem was fixed! Most users have a tendancy to quit Acrobat or Adobe Reader and often double click on a PDF file moments later. With this in mind the Adobe engineers came up with a way for Acrobat to quit but stick around in memory for a little while so the user can double click and start work straight away. From a cold start, Acrobat still starts up in seconds.

End result – Acrobat starts up damn quick!!

End note:Let’s not confuse my recommendations to users to consider working in different ways as “Microsoft bashing”. the fact is that Acrobat 8 can enable an enormous productivity gain to Microsoft Office users. It’s not about using one thing over the other, it’s about using the best tools for the job.Don’t just take my word for it, download a free trial of Acrobat 8 Professional and see for yourself

Mark Szulc Written by:

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