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Acrobat Wizard at Work: Harry Hemus, Dividi Projects

Imagine the scene—a hotel or conference room, lots of suited and badged business types, canapés and warm Chardonnay, all accompanied by the soft background drone of networking. It’s not that I’m anti‐social, but whilst accepting that such forums are deemed necessary, I simply cringe when I see some seasoned, professional networker heading towards me to ask…”So, Harry, what do you do?”

Now here comes my killer response: “I do interactive PDFs!”

I’ve actually started to get some enjoyment by watching this person desperately try to think of something to say. Believe me it’s hilarious.

I suppose these events occasionally attract people who know what a PDF is, so you do get the opportunity to suggest that they are more than “just a PDF.”

I often start by asking people how they communicate across their organization, assuming that I will get the usual “by email, SharePoint, Intranet,” along with the omnipresent “Word, Excel, Powerpoint” responses. I then ask another trying question, “Would you like to have all of your clever and important documents—flattery is always a good ploy—delivered in one single, navigable PDF?”

If they say NO, then you might as well shift the conversation towards the riveting and thrilling PowerPoint you may have just been subjected to, or if that’s not applicable, discussing the weather is always an option. I’ve yet to find anyone who says to me “Ooh, I do interactive PDFs as well!” What is stopping this particular fraternity from realising that ALL of the wonderful work that they create can be delivered within a PDF?

If, however, they say YES, then clearly this presents an opportunity to enquire, “Would you like to do all that as well as including audio, video, data collation, tracking and commenting reviews within the PDF”?

Let’s assume that you have achieved Nirvana—the “wow” response. Now that Acrobat X is on the scene, it has taken the user interface to a level which not only suits the enterprise user, but also suits the creative community— the cool and hip visionaries that create stunning imagery, graphics and rich media.

Realize that they have to experience for themselves real life samples and that some are sensitive individuals within the enterprise who rely heavily on the IT team for advice and guidance.

Perhaps it’s best to show actual, real, relevant and dynamic examples which contain all of this rich material. I’ve received a project which requires ALL manner of files and skills, including 50‐80 pages of text, 20 separate fact sheets and three Flash animations.

At the first meeting to discuss the options, I suggested a dynamic PDF as the solution. I heard the sound of a haunting wind, and tumbleweed could be seen drifting across the table. Thedesign group preferred Flash; the head of the global brand didn’t know what a PDF was; and the technical writers wondered how the printers could make PDF interactive.

The agency charged with managing the project intervened. “I think it would be a good idea if Harry showed us a few examples.” I showed them dynamic PDF – and was offered the job!

For too long, there has been a perceived split personality for Acrobat, where in my submission one should not exist, because it is both a proven business tool as well as vehicle for delivering creative and engaging content.

I’m sure that in such circumstances where these two areas are converged, there is a market and a suite of innovative products ripe for development and delivery to consumers and businesses alike.

Harry Hemus is an independent media production professional at Dividi Projects. When Harry is not enjoying canapés at cocktail parties, he is brainstorming his next act of wizardry with interactive PDFs for his media production clients.

Have a great wizard story on how Acrobat has inspired your work? Share it with us in the blog comments, we’d love to hear from you. Stay tuned for more upcoming Wizards in our Acrobat Wizards at Work blog series.

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