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Collaborating via Acrobat 8 and Adobe Connect

Ussing digital proofing to improve workflow.

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By Stephen Beals

Nearly everyone likes the idea of proofing a job without having to send a hardcopy proof to the customer. A few print providers make money on hard proofs, but most see it as a good way to slow down the production cycle and increase the cost of the job.

One of the obstacles to soft proofs is that there needs to be a way to "sign off" on a proof, providing verification that the job has indeed been seen and approved. There also needs to be a way to mark up corrections, and preferably a way of doing it that leaves a trail-so you know who looked at the proof and when. And in many cases, it would be nice if you could collaborate on the process in real time at multiple locations.

If collaborating with your customers to get print output prepared, edited, corrected, proofed, watermarked, annotated, and digitally signed off on all seems like a pipedream-or at least something that would be incredibly expensive or difficult to do-you may not have seen the latest version of Adobe Acrobat Professional. Adobe has been improving the collaboration tools in Acrobat for quite some time now, and in Acrobat 8 Professional, all of the above can be done. As well as a bit more.

Exploring its features

Adobe has enhanced the toolset and user interface in Acrobat 8. Although the company has been adding markup tools for the past several iterations of Acrobat, many print providers have yet to take advantage of the tools in previous versions. These features, however, are well worth exploring.

When you launch Acrobat Pro 8, you get an opening splash window called Getting Started, which offers, among other things, a choice of "review and comment." To send a PDF out to be reviewed, you can then choose whether you want an e-mail review or a "shared" review. There are a couple of differences: In both modes, users of Adobe Reader (the free version) can participate and comment on an unchanging file. In addition, in Shared Review mode, the person initiating the process can track the status of all reviewers, and reviewers can see each other’s comments. In effect, a review layer is added to the document; the original content is never compromised in the review process.