How Important Is Acrobat 5?--McIlroy
But with each new release of the software, more and more of PDF's inherent strengths shone through, and electronic adoption expanded. By Acrobat 4, PDF had reached a kind of critical mass, and now the electronic usage of PDF (newly christened by Adobe as the "ePaper" market) turned Acrobat into a $100 million business. In other words, a big hit.
Ironically PDF's huge success as an electronic document format is clearly related to its familiarity and comfort for a generation raised on print documents. One analyst called PDF the perfect "tweener format"—a format appealing to publishers in between the all-paper generation and the upcoming all (or mostly all) electronic generation. PDF files can offer most of the attributes of paper documents—page structure, elaborate graphics and meticulous design—along with a bunch of bonus features that could only work electronically.
Different features appeal to different users and markets. Some people like PDF as a presentation format—it's interactive, and you can incorporate bullet text along with moving images and sound. Some favor its collaboration features—documents can be restructured, annotated and edited as they pass among a workgroup. PDF is probably the leading application supporting digital signatures, a key feature advancing the electronic document revolution. (When Bill Clinton signed into law the bill authorizing digital signatures, it was a PDF file that he "signed.")
Users have always had a love-hate relationship with the closed security of the PDF file format. Being a closed format, documents were inherently fairly secure and safe from tampering. Advanced security features are a big plus for PDF—using Acrobat, an author can prevent anyone else from altering or from printing a PDF file (or even from opening it without a password).
On the other hand, if you wanted to make major changes to PDF files, you had to turn to third-party software. If you wanted to copy something from a PDF file to another document, the best you could do was move it line by line. Looking at the wish list for Acrobat, users wanted more security features, while at the same time an opening of the format. That's a challenge.