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i just got done watching podtech's video of the acrobat 8 demonstration from rick brown

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i was frustrated that the only video format was quicktime...a far cry from scoble's days at channel9 offering various formats.  i have to ask myself if he wasn't editing/producing on a mac these days if he'd be disgruntled about a singular format as well -- i always pegged him for a crusader of options -- podtech gives me only one experience...and it just so happens to be the one i hate.  i don't have podtech though -- just quicktime.  in order to view a MOV file i have to download the quicktime player, which i think is badware.  the "player" is really an app that installs a system tray, startup program, monitors background updates by default (without asking me if i want it to), etc. -- just not a friendly app (do a search on live.com or google for qttask.exe and you'll see others that hate it).  why can't it be just a plugin like flash?

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but i digress...

anyhow, i watched with anticipation of something incredibly cool with acrobat.  at the end of the show (which was great widescreen quality btw aside from my complaints above -- i ended up watching it on my mac), i just let out a 'huh' as the roadmap of acrobat confused me.  maybe it is because i view acrobat as an app for the pdf format -- creation (acrobat pro) and consumption (acrobat reader).  now, i think their reader is bloatware compared to using (which has a v2 out btw), but i've always admired the pro version for creating pdf documents, adding better security, and enabling pdf docs as forms.  but the video demonstrates features that start to confuse me.

probably the largest is the collaboration aspect.  at the end of the video rick brown demonstrates the collaboration service.  think webex, livemeeting, whatever your online collab service of choice is.  that's right, fire up acrobat and start an online meeting.  huh?!  isn't that the tool i use for pdf documents?  i don't think i'm alone when that is my knee-jerk reaction.  maybe collab has been in acrobat for a while and i just didn't know about it -- but that's the point isn't it?  rick talks about using the collab to annotate/review documents (other features in the v8 product), but i really can' t help myself but think that most companies won't use it for that.  don't most organizations use acrobat to "finalize" their document?  they'd likely have it in some word processing (word, openoffice) format and do document reviews using that format combined with existing collab infrastructures (i.e., sharepoint, documentum, etc.).  then the finalization may involve a portable format, hence pdf.  maybe i'm way off here?  i just simply haven't seen customers using acrobat/pdf for any other purpose but forms and finalization/portability of documents...and that's across a wide spectrum of large/med/small customers over the course of the past 10 years.

will big organization see acrobat as a collaboration tool for documents (thus putting more reliance on pdf as the primary format, not just the final format)?

the other thing that i think bothered me was the form creation demonstration.  while i think it was very cool, i think there was something that was glazed over.  now, i must admit that microsoft generally has great features that rely on other products...let's get that out in the open.  but rick demonstrated the forms functionality and another adobe product opened up (a designer which name escapes me).  so now the pdf form creator has to use two tools? 

i'm just generally confused at the roadmap of acrobat as a product.  i see it as becoming what i think ipod is becoming -- something it wasn't designed for...and will be too many features when someone wants the simple features.

some of the features were things that office has had since v2003.  content redaction? word has it.  xml-based form creation? infopath has it.  i'm not complaining, i think when best practices are used from other vendors it is a compliment in disguise.  apple seems to think microsoft "copies" -- they might come off more friendly if they note that they've identified some best practices in usability that others are leveraging.  i could go on that for a while (yeah, spotlight is cool and live search in vista is awesome because of it i think; but time machine?  we've had volume shadow copy for a while -- it just never had a sexy name or cool UI to use...and btw, time machine is very cool branding).

maybe i'll 'get it' soon enough -- but ask yourself.  the last 100 times you interacted with a pdf, was it more than reading and filling out a form?  for me the answer is defiantly no.



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