Adobe Acrobat 9 Pro Extended

Adobe's Acrobat gets its most significant upgrade in years. Is it an essential purchase?

Select the "Share Documents on Acrobat.com" command and you can post your PDF to the site and it will automatically send out emails with an invitation to view and download (in the process avoiding potential problems with email security and file size settings).

Of course that's not the end of the matter - you also need to collate and track the comments and forms data as they are returned. For shared review, this process is largely automatic: when reviewers publish their comments to Acrobat.com these are now automatically reflected in the hosted PDF and made visible to all.

For forms, the published data can simply be sent to your Inbox for manual collation or now routed via Acrobat.com for automatic handling. When data is received, a notification appears in your system tray and clicking on this opens Acrobat 9's revamped Tracker where you can see a consolidated view of returns, and quickly email all those participants that haven't responded.

Further advances

That's by no means all when it comes to new forms and collaboration features. For producing advanced XML-based forms, there's the new standalone LiveCycle Designer ES (not for the faint-hearted). For occasional use the reworked Start Form wizard is likely to do all that you need - automatically spotting potential form fields in any PDF, including those created from scanned hard copy and now letting you check that they are setup correctly. When you've collected your responses in the Tracker you can now search, sort and filter data much as you would in a spreadsheet before exporting for advanced analysis.

In terms of document collaboration and review, the new Document Compare command should prove very useful. This automatically highlights differences between two versions of a PowerPoint presentation, for example, right down to recoloured images.

Acrobat 9 even enables real time review. Use the Send and Collaborate Live command and you can email others a PDF or Acrobat.com link that, when opened, opens up a new Collaborate Live task pane. Using this, you can synchronise your current page views and exchange chat messages. Using the Share My Screen command you can move beyond page sharing to share and discuss any currently open application with up to three users in a new browser window, though this capability isn't actually tied to Acrobat - you can simply sign up at Acrobat.com.

Apart from the FLV video conversion all the features described above are available not just in Acrobat 9 Pro Extended, but in Acrobat 9 Pro. So what else does Extended offer to justify its hefty price tag?

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