Sunday, January 30, 2005

The PDF: The ‘real’ digital paper

As we go about our daily computing chores, we forget about the ‘small’ things on our PCs that have significantly contributed to our digital lives.

A number of important applications and tools combine to empower us, as computer users, but one of these tools has really taken off, and penetrated many aspects of our computing experience, without us noticing. And best of all, it’s not even a Microsoft product!

Adobe Acrobat, now into version 7, has been installed by over half a billion users worldwide throughout the past decade. That is a massive and unparalleled number by any application, other than Windows and, possibly, the Office suite.

Think about it’s success for a moment. Anyone can download Acrobat Reader for free, and therefore everyone can exchange these neat digital documents.
If you want to create PDF files, you have to purchase, or pay for the license, of a full version of Adobe Acrobat.

How much simpler can a company’s strategy be? It’s a lot like the book and magazine industries. We get the book or magazine, but don’t need to know, or incur the cost of, producing and publishing it. Should we decide one day to actually produce a publication, then we’ll need to make the necessary investment. It’s basic human nature, hence it’s success.

PDFs, the extension used by Acrobat files, are everywhere. Newspapers use PDFs on their websites as the ‘image’ format of choice to post the newspaper’s pages. Magazine and newsletter publishers do the same, but it has truly empowered the newsletter and fanzine community who use Microsoft Word to produce newsletters and can distribute them in a protected, un-editable format, that includes compressed text and graphics, and which everyone can read!

Everything from research papers and studies, to user manuals and guides is becoming a PDF file you can download off the ‘net’. Acrobat is available for every platform, including Windows, Linux and Mac OS.

What’s more, today your Symbian or Microsoft -powered phone or PDA can include a version of Adobe Acrobat Reader to help you take your documents on the move. It’s also laying the foundation for the future revolution in digital books (eBooks).
As for using Acrobat, in conjunction with Word or other applications, it’s very easy. Once installed, an Acrobat button pops up on your Word menu bar and all you have to do to create a PDF of an opened doc is press it!

If it’s graphic, plus text, work you want to PDF, it’s possible in Adobe Illustrator which opens every known graphic format (ai, eps, cdr, jpg ...etc) and save it as PDF. Immediately, you’ve got a PDF of anything you need.

Apart from its highly acclaimed and market leading products like Adobe PhotoShop, Illustrator and InDesign, Acrobat and Acrobat Reader are the real reason why 500 million PC users interact with Adobe every day. People keep on talking about the ‘future paperless office or home’.

Well, it already arrived, several years ago, and it’s called PDF. Whatever that abbreviation means, to me it stands for Pretty Darn Fantastic!


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