Acrobat 9: First “Blended Web” App?

Press releases went out Sunday night. There are multiple parts, and they fit together in a new kind of way. Whether you use PDF and documents or not, there’s something here which is worth paying attention to.

One part is the new version of the local, native-code authoring tool, Adobe Acrobat, and the free client and browser plugin, Adobe Reader. But viewing documents in web browsers is only one small part of what Acrobat does. The desktop software is the realworld standard when people use documents together. It’s installed. It’s part of daily life.

Another part is Buzzword and in-browser, in-the-cloud applications. This field is newer, but Buzzword is already best-of-class. Some people say the web will replace the desktop. I don’t know about that. But Buzzword, Connect and the rest are already there.

A third part is web services. There’s no reason you should have to view your data through an Adobe interface. You should be able to extract your data independent of its presentation, and do with it as you see fit. Custom interfaces are a necessity these days.

Put them together and we have an in-the-browser set of document services… a native-code set of high-level document services… document servers *and* document services, all with strong collaboration, lifecycle administrative control, archiving, open-format.

Desktop authoring tools. Browser-based authoring tools. Custom-made authoring tools. Local data. Remote data. All of them working together. First time ever. A new way.

That’s what strikes me most about this news. Pundits will probably go into “Buzzword vs Google Docs” or “Reader vs Preview” comparisons, but zooming in on the parts hides the outline of the whole.

Any group of people now have access to modern document publishing. There’s the desktop, in-the-browser, and beyond-the-browser… there’s local storage, local network storage, or cloud-based storage. All the scales work together.

If you have a computer and a connection, it costs no additional money to participate. You can manage and protect your own data, or let someone else do it. The platform supports various workflows, and does not dictate what your workflow should be.

Pundits argue “desktop vs browser” and “cloud vs local” and “own-your-data vs free-your-data”, but I think needs are diverse enough that technology needs to support _all_ these choices.

This is the first version of Acrobat built after the Macromedia acquisition. It’s dramatically expands what has gone before. When you look at it, look at how the various architectural sections fit together, and at PDF’s existing space in the overall document ecology. I think we’ll see more structures like this soon. But, the entire wider Adobe Acrobat initiative is breaking significant new ground here.

Applications aren’t just on the desktop, and aren’t just in the browser. They’re not just stored behind the firewall, not just stored in the cloud. It’s all-of-the-above. This Acrobat initiative is a new thing.

3 Responses to Acrobat 9: First “Blended Web” App?

  1. steve says:

    John – related to the Acrobat issue. The CS3.3 pre-order issue is really hosed – AKA cannot access any CS3 products for 2 weeks. Also says my card won’t be charged until it is available, but it has been… Support tickets ignored, phone support generally powerless to help…
    I think this is probably a mistake. Can you contact me, or get ahold of someone in the department responsible to fix this error?
    I’ve been a Macromedia / Adobe customer for years – what’s happening?
    Frustrated… help. All I want to do is exchange money for product. Why does this have to be so difficult?

  2. Steve says:

    Wow – there are some comments – guess it wasn’t a form or database bug:) Sorry for the repeatz:(

  3. Sumanth says:

    John,
    This is a great post and your vision for an application user experience that spans the desktop and the web is something that I believe will get increasingly important in the days to come.
    Unfortunately, Acrobat.com in its present incarnation is a wasted opportunity that does not deliver on the underlying potential – all the apps seems to be loosely coupled (some would say totally disjointed) with separate log-ins and no synergy between the constituents (cannot open a Buzzword document in Share or vice versa). Even the AIR app seems to be an underwhelming implementation where each tile just launches an independent browser window…I guess once you have the AIR version of Buzzword and true/seamless SSO and data sharing among all the apps, then we will get closer to your vision for the first “blended web” app…hope to see this happen sooner rather than later.
    Cheers,
    Sumanth