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July 30, 2008

Inside PDF Portfolios

So if you’ve read a bit about Acrobat 9, you may have heard a little something about PDF Portfolios. And since there are already quite a few articles and informational pieces out there on this topic, I thought I’d take a moment to shed some light as to why PDF Portfolios made its grand debut in Acrobat 9. More after the break…

Since the launch of Acrobat 8, the product management team has talked to many knowledge workers in a variety of industries and companies to learn about how they share and aggregate sets of files and to identify what may be missing in the equation today. We found that people often use email attachments, zip files, PDF files, and PowerPoint presentations to share and present a collection of content. They were looking for ways to make their content stand out in a sea of ordinary files and to keep their audiences engaged. They also wanted to clearly convey information in an organized and discoverable manner. We also heard that people didn’t have a lot of time on their hands so any solution had to be compelling but also easy to implement.

In Acrobat 9, we developed PDF Portfolios to optimize the authoring and consumption experience by allowing users to organize a variety of files and to personalize and compress them into a portable PDF file. A lot of this was made possible with the introduction of native Flash support in Acrobat 9 and Reader 9.

Click on image to see it bigger.

So how would you use PDF Portfolios in your day to day job? We heard a wide range of examples of how customers would incorporate PDF Portfolios in their everyday jobs. Here are just a few of them:

  • Presentation of sales or company information to customers
  • Marketing collateral for a new product campaign
  • Organization of files for a final project handoff
  • Archive Outlook or Lotus Notes email messages for knowledge transfer or record keeping
  • Archive of key files in a legal case or client investment portfolio
  • Showcase of individual student work throughout high school

The knowledge workers we talked to were intrigued with the easy options available to customize the visual experience for their recipients but also appreciated the practicality that a PDF Portfolio offers in organizing files in a clear manner. So with a lot of user input and behind the scenes effort, PDF Portfolios debuted in Acrobat 9. And since the product launch, there have been more examples surfacing out here on the web.

When you have a moment, check out a PDF Portfolio and demo that Acrobat Guru Lori DeFurio put together. For those interested in applications for the education sector, Steve Alder has a nice blog entry on that topic. Also with some additional coding, you can take things to another level by creating a unique PDF Portfolio even beyond the customizable layouts available by default. A Japanese media company created this very interesting PDF Portfolio to teach people about effective presentation skills. It includes several videos (so it’s a large file) and highlights just another fascinating but practical use case. In the video, the instructor goes on to say in Japanese how PDF Portfolios can help keep audiences awake during live presentations and make it easy to play videos without tech support. We’ll have more about custom PDF Portfolios at another time but perhaps some of this talk of PDF Portfolios has peaked your interest.

Amy Wang, Acrobat Product Manager

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