How Important Is Acrobat 5?--McIlroy
So what about Acrobat 5's new features? Let's start with the basics.
Acrobat can now be installed and maintained over a network, so that the network manager can work from a single station and support an entire organization. PDF documents can also now be published and annotated over a network, local area or otherwise, directly through a Web browser. Acrobat's interface has been redesigned and simplified for the average user. Color management functionality is enhanced.
Acrobat has supported PDF forms for the last several releases, but new features will greatly encourage their adoption: they have all of the database linking and interactivity of HTML forms, but also with the paper fidelity of PDF and its secure digital signature features.
Strong Security Features
PDF document security has been beefed-up further with the addition of 128 bit encryption and with "precision" security features that enable authors to vary the level of security for different groups of users.
Probably the most important new features of Acrobat 5 and PDF 1.4 are the ways that Adobe has opened the format, rather than the ways it has secured it. PDF 1.4 now supports XML in an apparently full-featured manner, and supports export to RTF, the Rich Text Format. The implications of these moves will take some time to fully evaluate, but they appear to be major.
Microsoft's RTF has long been the document interchange format that many used and few talked about. There's no document format that is as widely accessible to developers, while remaining extremely robust in the richness of the document formats it describes. But in an era first of branded proprietary formats, and then "sexy" Internet standards, RTF fell below most publishers' radar screens.
Provided that documents have been properly prepared, it will now be possible to export PDF files to RTF files that can easily be imported into Microsoft Word and most page layout applications. At the same time, Adobe links vector graphics in PDF files directly to Adobe Illustrator and raster graphics to Adobe Photoshop.