Adobe Acrobat X Suite is a Sweet Deal

Related: Acrobat, Adobe, CS5, Photoshop

Product Review: Adobe's Acrobat X Suite

Over the years, I have been a long-time user and reviewer of Adobe's family of Suites. Most recently, I reviewed several programs within the the Adobe Master Collection CS5. When I became aware of the Adobe Acrobat X Suite, I jumped at the opportunity to review this new addition to Adobe's family of suites.

Adobe Acrobat X Suite includes the following software:

  • Adobe Acrobat X Pro
  • Adobe Photoshop CS5
  • Adobe Captivate 5
  • Adobe Presenter 7
  • Adobe LiveCycle Designer ES2
  • Adobe Media Encoder CS5

Of the five programs within this suite, Photoshop and Acrobat are two of Adobe's best-known, most-used, and most-recognizable products. These workhorse programs are the ones that everyone uses on a daily basis. As a publicist, novelist, artist, and web designer, I have also put Captivate on my must-have software list. I've also recently been working with video and have found Adobe's Media Encoder indispensable.

The Adobe Acrobat X Suite is the perfect bundle for artists, authors, musicians, educators, students, and business professionals (for both large corporations and family-owned businesses). Anyone involved in promotion, product presentations and/or innovative professional speakers will reap benefits from the Adobe Acrobat X Suite. It is also a must-have suite for web designers interested in broadening their website interactive features.

In their continuous journey to "keep ahead of the times," Adobe is constantly reinventing its various products. Interactivity is the new "buzz word" within the world of software. Within the Acrobat X Suite, Adobe once more succeeds in anticipating the public's wants-and-needs, and delivering the software to fulfill them.

Adobe Acrobat X Pro

The heart of Adobe Acrobat X Suite, is Acrobat X [pronounced ten, not X]. So, what makes this version of Acrobat superior to former versions? The most notable difference is the new and improved User Interface. The UI not only provides a cleaner workspace, but also integrates similar functions, such as panels/panes, which have become a vital part of the majority of Adobe's products. Familiarity equals user-friendliness, which equals productivity, which, in turn, removes frustration from the learning curve.


Adobe Acrobat 9 Pro's User Interface verses Adobe's Acrobat X Pro

Functions that were previously featured in Acrobat 9 Pro are still available in Acrobat X Pro. However, many have been enhanced, redesigned, and most have been relocated into easily accessible panes.


Adobe Acrobat X Pro Panes

The familiar Navigation and Command vertical Pane is still situated in its usual location and provides twelve navigations and/or commands. The following four are displayed by default: Page Thumbnail, Bookmarks, Attachments, and Signatures. The additional eight can be added or removed by first right-clicking on the Navigation Pane, and then selecting your favorite options.


Adobe Acrobat X Pro Task Panes

On the opposite side of the Document Pane is the new fully-customized Task Panes. Within the three Task Panes (Tools, Comment, Share), there are multiple options. The ability to organize your tasks in easy to access panes is another timesaving new addition to Adobe Acrobat X Pro.

The toolbar has gone back to basics with a sleek and simplified appearance. With the addition of the Customize Quick Tools button (the new little gear-like icon), you can readily access over 100-plus tools. Within the Customize Quick Tools window, you can add or remove your most-used tools by merely clicking the arrow buttons.

In today's fast moving and ever changing world, the ability to create and fill-out forms, create interactive websites, as well as online communicating and collaborating are high priority demands for all aspects of life. Interactivity is also high on Adobe's list of improvements for all of its future products. Adobe Acrobat X Pro is no exception. It allows users to work with and/or create complex, interactive PDF documents with easy to use tools, navigations, and commands.

Adobe does an admirable job in its attempt to achieve perfection when it comes to meeting their customer's wishes…and, for the most part, they are highly successful. However, there is one improved function within Adobe Acrobat X Pro that could use additional development. Although the PDF Maker has been improved, integrating Acrobat with Microsoft Office has yet to meet high marks for perfection.

Exporting PDF documents from Acrobat X Pro into MS Word works well, as long as the document does not contain complicated formatting. When I tried to convert a PDF file, that was originally created in Adobe InDesign, into a word document, I was disappointed with the final results.

Although I tried to save the PDF file in a variety of formats, none of the results produced a finished document that did not need extensive tweaking (some more than others).

I was more successful creating PDF files from MS Word, MS Excel, and MS PowerPoint files. Not only was the process easy [Word, Excel, and PowerPoint all included an Acrobat button], there were also many additional options available to convert and create the perfect PDF file.

Overall, the new sleek design with its "clean" extended workspace, along with the new customized Task Panes, makes Adobe Acrobat X Pro the perfect addition to your software library.

Adobe Photoshop CS5

As to full disclosure…since I first opened Adobe Photoshop 3.0, I have been hopelessly in-love with the program. Without question, Photoshop is the gateway creative-drug to all things Adobe. Once you get your first taste of Adobe Photoshop, you become addicted for life.

Adobe Photoshop has come a long way from its initial photo enhancing capabilities. It is now not only the number one software for both professional and amateur photographers, but also a vital program for all levels of computer graphic artists.

Adobe Photoshop CS5, with its over three dozen new functions, enhancements, and shortcuts, has proven to be my favorite Photoshop version to date. In the course of reviewing the Adobe Acrobat X Suite, it would be impossible to mention all the new features in Adobe Photoshop CS5. However, the following are ten of my favorites.


Instant Straighten Tool

  1. The Straighten Tool instantly resets the horizon
  2. The redesigned Defined Edges feature, with its touch-up brush, takes all the drudgery out of masking complex images.
  3. Content Aware-Fill magically replaces deleted items while preserving background details.
  4. The new Mixer Brush Tool is outstanding for advanced painting ability
  5. The ability to instantly change the font color (it's a little thing, but a huge timesaver)
  6. The reinstated feature of being able to right-click on an image to resize and duplicate
  7. The advanced HDR features, including the remove ghost function.
  8. Puppet Warp lets you become the puppet master as you manipulate objects and create animations.
  9. In Camera Raw the new Noise Reduction feature retains the image details while removing unwanted grain.
  10. Mini Bridge allows access to Bridge directly in Photoshop

Adobe Captivate 5

Although Adobe Captivate is better known as an e-learning tool, in previous versions of Adobe Captivate I've mainly used the program to generate quizzes for websites. Then along came Adobe Captivate 5…and it has turned my online world in a spin.

For example, I work with Adobe InDesign, however, not daily. Yet, it is still a vital part of my software arsenal. This powerful publishing program has a very steep learning curve, and I find myself going back to detailed notes when I've not used Adobe InDesign on a regular basis.

This is where Adobe Captivate 5 saves the day. Now, when I start a new project in Adobe InDesign (or Photoshop), I also open Adobe Captivate 5 and "record new project." I no longer have to stop what I'm working on to take notes, because Adobe Captivate 5 is working as my personal scribe, recording my every move.

Once I am finished with my project, I can then open Adobe Captivate 5 and review "every" step of my creative process. Once edited and saved, my "notes" are quickly available when needed. This is not only a timesaver…it also allows for an uninterrupted creative-flow.

Of course, you can still use Adobe Captivate 5 as an e-learning tool. As well as the many save-as options (print, web, PDF, etc.), Adobe Captivate 5 now includes the ability to easily publish to mobile devices and YouTube.

Adobe Presenter 7

Even if you have never created a Flash presentation, Adobe Presenter 7 (the MS PowerPoint add-in) gives you professional results, including narration and advanced interactivity. Adobe Presenter 7 allows you to take a PowerPoint presentation and convert it to a professional interactive online format. Recording, as well as editing, audio of the highest quality is another feature of a polished presentation.

Adobe Presenter 7 also allows the user to incorporate a variety of static and/or randomized quizzes and questionnaires, which, in turn, creates a truly interactive experience. Publishing the final presentation that preserves animation is yet another exciting feature.

Adobe LiveCycle Designer ES2

If you need to design an intricate form precisely, but also quickly, LiveCycle Designer ES2 is the perfect solution. This small, but powerful, program gives you the option to create complex forms using "behaviors" without prior knowledge of script writing. Your forms can then be integrated within a PDF file, printed, or incorporated within a web page.

Why use Adobe LiveCycle Designer ES2 to create forms when you already have Adobe Acrobat X? Adobe LiveCycle Designer ES2 is more detail orientated. It allows the form creator to not only create very specific details in how the form is to be filled out and submitted, but it also includes several "validation" features that allows for accuracy. Accuracy is synonymous with productivity.

One of my favorite features in LiveCycle Designer ES2 is the option to preview and test forms in a PDF format with just a toggle of a button on the User Interface. LiveCycle Designer ES2 replaces the guess work and the drudgery of creating forms, with the confidence that your creations will be functional, as well as unique to your purpose.

LiveCycle Designer ES2 gives the user the options to design forms from a variety of "adaptable" templates, as well as creating forms from scratch. If you can conceive it, you can create it with LiveCycle Designer ES2.

Adobe Media Encoder CS5

With the recent gift of a new video camera, I've been diving (ok, more like dog-paddling) into movie making. Immediately, I found myself at an impasse, as my video camera only saves to .mov format, and the .mov format does not open in all media players.

Thanks to Adobe Media Encoder CS5, with over twenty-five different formats to choose from, I can now quickly convert my .mov movies into videos that I can view on a variety of players.

Conclusion

Although Adobe Acrobat X Suite is not the most widely known of Adobe's family of suites, it is still a powerful software bundle for anyone in need of promoting themselves, their products, and/or their ideas. The world has become a social media society, and the Adobe Acrobat X Suite has the ability to fulfill the majority of your mobile and Internet communication and media sharing needs.


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Author of "Sons of Avalon: Merlin's Prophecy"

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May 30, 2011

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