Say Hello to Adobe CS5

If you watched the global launch of Adobe CS5 like thousands of us did, you are probably blown away by all the new features demonstrated, as well as new applications added to the Suites, such as Flash Catalyst. Along the way, we also introduced new online services, like CS Live and BrowserLab.

 

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If you missed it, you can watch the recording below.

Over the next few weeks, I will be blogging and posting videos on many of these new features and provide my take on how they can apply to eLearning and Technical Communication.

Another reason why I’m personally excited about today’s CS5 launch is because eventually many of these amazing applications will be part of Adobe Technical Communication Suite and Adobe eLearning Suite.

In the meantime, enjoy this video on Adobe TV, and share your favorite new features by leaving a comment below, or by sending me a Tweet @rjacquez.

 

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Creating a Poster image for a Captivate simulation embedded in Acrobat 9

In case you didn’t know, you can now embed Flash-based movies in Adobe Acrobat 9 and anyone with Reader 9 can view them directly inside the PDF.

Undoubtedly, when our customers find out about this new feature, the first thing that comes to mind is embedding Adobe Captivate simulations as a way of supplementing a static PDF document and bringing it to life.

 

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In a future post, I’ll focus on how to embed simulations in Adobe FrameMaker during the authoring process in order to avoid any post-processing work, but for now, my focus is on customizing the poster image for an embedded Flash movie directly in Acrobat 9.

Embedding Flash content in Acrobat 9 is quite easy, you use the Flash tool from the Tasks toolbar, double-click where you want to insert the SWF, Browse for it and click OK. That’s it.

However, the purpose of the video below is to illustrate how to use one of the slides in Captivate to create a poster image for the embedded simulation, in order to make it obvious to the end user that this is a video simulation and not a simple, static screen shot.

If you are embedding Adobe Captivate simulations in your PDF document, I’d love to check it out. If you are able to share, please send me a tweet @rjacquez.

Click the image below to launch for the video in a new window.


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Using Photoshop Actions to create a Slideshow in Adobe Captivate

If you use Adobe Photoshop and haven’t tried using or creating actions, you are missing out. Actions are perhaps the single most powerful feature in Photoshop because they enable you to automate repetitive tasks by recording each step, and then playing back the entire process on a number of images and say look Ma, no hands.  

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In this video (00:26:08), I go over how to create an action in Photoshop and then use it to batch process a series of images for building a slideshow in Adobe Captivate. I then illustrate how to add captions to all the slides and customize the text in MS Word and finally how to add a soundtrack to the slideshow using Adobe Soundbooth. I hope you like it.

Click the image below to launch the video in a new window.


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HOW TO: Use the Acrobat.com plug-in for Outlook to Share Large Files Automatically

(Repost with a how to title in order to highlight the Acrobat.com plug-in for Outlook video)

Remember the old Hair Club for Men commercials where the president
says, “I’m not only the hair club president, I’m also a client“? Well, I
share a similar feeling about the Adobe tools I evangelize. I’m also a
client.

 

tweetmeme_url = ‘http://blogs.adobe.com/rjacquez/2010/04/how_to_use_the_acrobatcom_plug.html’;

In my spare time I often develop eLearning modules — highlighting
ways to use our own Adobe Technologies more effectively — and then
share these with my internal teams.

A couple of weeks ago, I
developed a brief eLeaning module on how to use the Acrobat.com
Outlook plug-in for sharing large files
.

The module was
included in last week’s internal newsletter! I’d like to share it with
you here, since you too have access to this plug-in, and other
Acrobat.com services.

I’d also like to share the specific Adobe eLearning
Suite
tools I used to put the module together:

  • Adobe Soundbooth (SB). I use SB
    all the time for all things audio recording and editing. For this
    particular project I used SB to record the audio files for slides
    1, 2, 4 and 5, which I then imported into Adobe Presenter. For
    the background audio you hear throughout, I used one of the
    included scores in SB. Even though Captivate has audio editing
    capabilities, I prefer to edit Captivate’s audio in SB. To do
    this, I navigate to the Captivate slide that needs editing, select
    the audio in the Library, and then select Edit with Soundbooth.
    There, I do all required editing and select File > Save. Then
    the updated version is sent directly back to Captivate.
  • Adobe Captivate. Captivate is
    my baby! I do all of my software simulations using Adobe Captivate
    and then share them on Twitter and on my blog. I really like
    using Captivate and Adobe Presenter together and I have been
    looking for an opportunity to embed a Captivate simulation in an
    Adobe Presenter slide (which I’ve done here on slide 3).
  • Adobe Flash. I’m by no means a
    Flash expert, but I use Flash as a way to supplement my Captivate
    work with short animations. For this module I only used it briefly
    to add a short animation on the first slide of Captivate to
    display a keyboard shortcut for creating a new email. You can see
    this at the beginning of the Simulation on slide 3.
  • Adobe Presenter. While some
    people might think that Adobe Presenter and Captivate compete,
    they actual complement each other, and I use both tools in most of
    the projects I develop. I really like Presenter because it
    enables me to stay in PowerPoint and add audio to my slides and
    sync the audio to the animations I include. Presenter also enables
    me to easily choose a skin for the navigation, along with a
    picture, bio, outline and a thumbnail view of my slides for easy
    navigation.  What I like the most, however, is how easy it is for
    me to insert Captivate simulations on any slide and then have the
    Presenter playbar control the Captivate simulation. The
    applications are well integrated and the final experience is cohesive
    for end-users. To see this in action, check out slide 3 in the
    presentation below.
  • Adobe Photoshop. For this
    particular project, I didn’t use Photoshop much, but I often use
    it to design any graphics I need to include or to edit Captivate
    slides. The ability to import .PSD files into Captivate and
    preserve the Photoshop layers is one of my favorite features in
    the Suite.
  • Adobe Bridge. Bridge is great
    for managing media assets. I use it all the time. It allows me to
    find images I need in Captivate and then use the File > Place
    command to quickly send to Captivate, Photoshop or other products.

So there you have it! These are just a few ways
that I use my Adobe tools. I’d love to hear how you use these Adobe
tools in your everyday workflows.

Watch this brief eLearning
module on how to use the Acrobat.com plug-in for MS Outlook to share
large files. Just click the image below to display the module in a new
window.

 

Contributing Editor:
Phylise Banner
Phylise is an
instructional designer, educator (AEL), avid angler, and proud owner of a
1967 Amphicar. You can view her LinkedIn profile at http://www.linkedin.com/in/phylisebanner

 

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More than an Adobe Evangelist, I’m also a customer

Remember the old Hair Club for Men commercials where the president says, “I’m not only the hair club president, I’m also a client”? Well, I share a similar feeling about the Adobe tools I evangelize. I’m also a client.  

tweetmeme_url = ‘http://blogs.adobe.com/rjacquez/2010/04/more_than_an_adobe_evangelist.html’;

In my spare time I often develop eLearning modules — highlighting ways to use our own Adobe Technologies more effectively — and then share these with my internal teams.

A couple of weeks ago, I developed a brief eLeaning module on how to use the Acrobat.com Outlook plug-in for sharing large files.

The module was included in last week’s internal newsletter! I’d like to share it with you here, since you too have access to this plug-in, and other Acrobat.com services.

I’d also like to share the specific Adobe eLearning Suite tools I used to put the module together:

  • Adobe Soundbooth (SB). I use SB all the time for all things audio recording and editing. For this particular project I used SB to record the audio files for slides 1, 2, 4 and 5, which I then imported into Adobe Presenter. For the background audio you hear throughout, I used one of the included scores in SB. Even though Captivate has audio editing capabilities, I prefer to edit Captivate’s audio in SB. To do this, I navigate to the Captivate slide that needs editing, select the audio in the Library, and then select Edit with Soundbooth. There, I do all required editing and select File > Save. Then the updated version is sent directly back to Captivate.
  • Adobe Captivate. Captivate is my baby! I do all of my software simulations using Adobe Captivate and then share them on Twitter and on my blog. I really like using Captivate and Adobe Presenter together and I have been looking for an opportunity to embed a Captivate simulation in an Adobe Presenter slide (which I’ve done here on slide 3).
  • Adobe Flash. I’m by no means a Flash expert, but I use Flash as a way to supplement my Captivate work with short animations. For this module I only used it briefly to add a short animation on the first slide of Captivate to display a keyboard shortcut for creating a new email. You can see this at the beginning of the Simulation on slide 3.
  • Adobe Presenter. While some people might think that Adobe Presenter and Captivate compete, they actual complement each other, and I use both tools in most of the projects I develop. I really like Presenter because it enables me to stay in PowerPoint and add audio to my slides and sync the audio to the animations I include. Presenter also enables me to easily choose a skin for the navigation, along with a picture, bio, outline and a thumbnail view of my slides for easy navigation.  What I like the most, however, is how easy it is for me to insert Captivate simulations on any slide and then have the Presenter playbar control the Captivate simulation. The applications are well integrated and the final experience is cohesive for end-users. To see this in action, check out slide 3 in the presentation below.
  • Adobe Photoshop. For this particular project, I didn’t use Photoshop much, but I often use it to design any graphics I need to include or to edit Captivate slides. The ability to import .PSD files into Captivate and preserve the Photoshop layers is one of my favorite features in the Suite.
  • Adobe Bridge. Bridge is great for managing media assets. I use it all the time. It allows me to find images I need in Captivate and then use the File > Place command to quickly send to Captivate, Photoshop or other products.

So there you have it! These are just a few ways that I use my Adobe tools. I’d love to hear how you use these Adobe tools in your everyday workflows.

Watch this brief eLearning module on how to use the Acrobat.com plug-in for MS Outlook to share large files. Just click the image below to display the module in a new window.


Contributing Editor:
Phylise Banner

Phylise is an
instructional designer, educator (AEL), avid angler, and proud owner of a
1967 Amphicar. You can view her LinkedIn profile at http://www.linkedin.com/in/phylisebanner

 

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HOW TO: Apply Master Pages automatically in FrameMaker

A discussion on LinkedIn about FrameMaker Master Pages prompted me to publish this short post and include an Adobe Captivate how-to video.

Master pages provide consistent look-and-feel across multiple pages that
perform
specific roles, such as the first page of a chapter, or landscape pages that display wide tables or images.
But applying custom master pages to each document page—especially
in a book with hundreds of pages manually can be time-consuming
and tedious
to say the least.

 

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Starting with FrameMaker 7.0, you can
automate the process of applying master pages by mapping master pages to body pages containing
specific paragraph tags. For example, map a particular master page
to the first page of each chapter based on its chapter heading paragraph

tag, or map a landscape master page to a body page containing a wide table or an image.

Click the image below to view a short (06:31min) Adobe Captivate simulation on how to automate the process of applying customer master pages.

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Interview with Edward Martino, PhD: AIRHelp by Adobe RoboHelp—energizes eCommerce Technical Support

Think about it, for the last 15 years, Help
hasn’t changed much, the traditional tri-pane format has remained
static and hasn’t kept up with trending Web 2.0 technologies, and as a
result it does not meet today’s end-user expectations.
 

tweetmeme_url = ‘http://blogs.adobe.com/rjacquez/2010/03/interview_with_edward_martino.html’;

What
we need is a revolution in user assistance

We need not think
of Help as a box that needs to be checked before a product ships, but
rather as a Social opportunity to engage with our users and ultimately
as a way to build communities around our products and services.

Enter
AIRHelp by Adobe RoboHelp!

Don’t think of AIRHelp
merely as another output format, think of Adobe AIR as an innovative
platform on which to build engaging user assistance experiences and
think of AIRHelp as the delivery mechanism.

While AIRHelp was
introduced in RoboHelp 8 and thus it’s relatively new, the idea is
resonating well with our customers, especially because if doesn’t require any programming to build it. It’s my goal to showcase on this
blog, what our customers are doing with this new and innovative platform through short
interviews like this one.

I had the pleasure of interviewing
Edward Martino, PhD, and I am very impressed and excited about
all the great insight he shared about using AIRHelp to energize his eCommerce Technical Support teams.

I
hope you enjoy reading this interview and if you want to learn more
about AIRHelp, or want to share what you are doing with it, please email
me at rjacquez(at)adobe.com.


RJ: Ed, thanks for agreeing to speak with me today. I’ve gotten to know you well over the last few months, but for my readers who don’t know you, please tell us a little about yourself.

Ed: RJ, I am a boomer geek with over 35 years of systems experience. About 3 years ago I stopped developing with an esoteric 4GL called Dataflex in order to find better opportunities. With my academic background (PhD in Experimental Psychology and 5 years teaching experience) Instructional Designer work seemed a logical career move. Since the change, I have worked for Accenture, ATT and  now McKesson. Working as an Instructional Designer, or Technical Communicator if you prefer, is quite satisfying as the tasks use more of my skills and the new tools are really great to work with. I am a happy camper with a new exciting career path!


RJ: Happy to hear that, Ed. As an Instructional Designer / Technical Communicator at McKesson, which Adobe tools are you currently using?

Ed: Currently I am using RoboHelp 8, Adobe Captivate 4 and Acrobat 9 Pro Extended. When I started with McKesson last August, their help systems were written in HTML but they were not up-to-date. I began migrating the main systems to RoboHelp my second week on the job. Over the next two months, I completed the initial online conversion and began working on converting the Knowledge Base (KB) that the eCommerce Technical Support team uses daily to find answers to common issues.

In October, we had a meeting with several other departments that was initiated by my Manager, James Lytton. In that meeting  the VP of Sales, Robert Fearing, expressed an interest in having a community-based help system that was “wiki like”. The week before I had viewed your introduction to Adobe AIR for Technical Communicators webinar. I then proceeded to build the new version of the Knowledge Base using RoboHelp 8 and to deploy it in Adobe AIRHelp.

Since we rolled out the initial version of this system, in mid December, our staff has updated the module over 25 times and we have processed over 100 comments from users.

I have now migrated the primary help files presented through WebHelp on the customer-facing side into the AIRHelp Knowledge Base. We have more help systems of other applications that we plan to load into the AIRHelp module. Technical Support Agents are very pleased with the full text search, speed of access, continuing updates, and ability to comment. While we have just started to review the metrics, it appears that the features offered by AIRHelp are helping our Technical Support Agents resolve issues more quickly, frequently on the customer’s first call.

Oh, I almost forgot to mention that I am also developing a number of Captivate 4 simulations. We use these both for training and for our internal Performance Support (PS). The PS Sims will reside in the Knowledge Base for reference allowing Agents quick access to just in time learning for a number of processes.


RJ: Wiki-like, I like that. Glad to hear that your eCommerce Technical Support teams are now using AIRHelp on a daily basis. You mentioned that you have now processed over 100 comments from users, so what feedback are you getting from them about the ability to comment on topics, versus using the previous, more static HTML-based system?

Ed:  Well they are really much more engaged with the AIRHelp systems. Having their comments processed within the work week has become a big win for the team. In the past updates were not done in a timely manner. Sometimes it took weeks or longer for updates to be posted.

Here is a behavioral observation about the effect of AIRHelp in our environment.

When I first started, I often saw Level I Technical Support (TS) Agents getting up from their desks to find the Subject Matter Expert (SME) for an answer to a specific question. This seemed inefficient as the Level II SMEs were frequently backed up with 3 or 4 Level I TS Agents waiting their turn.  Now, Level I TS Agents are more often at their desks providing support. Once in a while a SME has to get up and assist, but in general the workflow here looks much smoother. I believe this workflow improvement is due to the unique properties of Adobe AIRHelp.

Today, at James’ request, I loaded 50 more topics from yet another module into the Knowledge Base. By Friday, the AIRHelp module will have another 100 topics available. Of course, they LOVE the instantaneous search results, which very efficiently guide them to the answers they seek. In McKesson eCommerce Technical support, AIRHelp Rules!


RJ: Let’s talk about the auto-update feature in Adobe AIRHelp. Can you share how updates were made before AIRHelp and the benefits the auto-update feature has added to the overall experience?

Ed: Before we began delivering our Knowledge Base with AIRHelp, updates were basically haphazard. Zach O’Neal, a Level II TS Agent and SME, did them when he had time. TS Agents would send Zach emails with update information. Agents often became frustrated because important information they needed to support customers was often not processed until weeks or months after the request.

Now Agents either make comments in the Knowledge Base using AIRHelp themselves  or send email directly to another Agent who makes the updates and generates the “AIRHelp” output to a shared drive. I also provide a list of all requested comments to the agent who makes the updates, allowing her to double-check the changes.  This Wednesday we added changes to existing topics as well as new topics that I imported from another help system. Later that afternoon, I got an IM from an Agent that said “I just love the new KB module. Today’s update had just what I needed to find. Thanks for all your hard work :).”

As you know, Technical Communicators often wonder if anyone reads our work. With Adobe AIRHelp’s commenting and updating features, I know that our Agents are using the module and, more importantly, that it helps them do their jobs better.


RJ: I hear similar comments all the time from Technical Communicators so I’m glad to hear that you are seeing AIRHelp bridge the gap between authors and end-users. You mentioned that you are also using Adobe Captivate for training & Performance Support (PS)

Could we talk a little about how you implement rich media (such as simulations) in AIRHelp and the benefits of other media for end-users?

Ed: I just finished a Captivate Performance Support simulation for the keyword-based search feature that our customers use for ordering. I also received a new list of data elements  involved in the search from our VP of Marketing.

I will use several Adobe tools to package this content and meet my users’ needs:

  1. I am adding the data elements list AND the simulation to the AIRHelp module for our team and the Customer Service team that will be getting the Knowledge Base shortly.
  2. Next week our trainer will be in town and she will get the same materials packaged in a .pdf for use with new customer and initial Agent trainings.
  3. Finally, we will send the combined .pdf to the developer who manages the customer facing help systems so he can post it on our web portal for customers to use.  

So, in total we will get three different uses from this content with RH+AIR+Captivate+Acrobat Pro Extended as our tool set. Welcome to Web 2.0.

To give another example of how RoboHelp’s AIRHelp has impacted my team, here’s a little true tale from yesterday. One of our Agents, Lisa, came to my desk yesterday with a frustrated look on her face. “I didn’t get today’s update on my system. I don’t have the most recent version. Can you help me with this?” So I showed her how to check manually for the Update > Preferences > Check for Update > Check Now and sent her back to her station. Our Agents are very busy and although that info about Preferences was in the intro AIR simulation, she must have missed it.

When I passed by her station 10 minutes later, Lisa was smiling and reviewing some of the newest info from the Knowledge Base.  My team now is fully invested in the Knowledge Base. Their comments, corrections and additions have made them partners in the process of building and maintaining the Knowledge Base.

Adobe RoboHelp’s AIRHelp output clearly closes the gap between user and Technical Communicator, making for better experiences for both. No longer will technical communicators have to wonder if anyone reads their work. AIRHelp by RoboHelp output rocks!


RJ: That’s great! Since most people think that you need to be a programmer to develop Adobe AIR applications, can you share from an author’s perspective what it takes to build AIRHelp using RoboHelp?

Ed: RJ, building AIRHelp from RoboHelp is really very easy. After I viewed your

Web 2.0 Documentation using Adobe AIR and RoboHelp 8 back in November, I started to test AIRHelp. By the way, one tip that you gave on the webinar was most helpful – the one about building the “trial” digital certificate. I would have not thought that out by myself. Thanks a lot for sharing that tidbit!

After a few tests with the other skins, my team and I decided on the Black Accordion skin which has a nice clean modern look. It took a few days from the time I viewed the webinar until I had a working AIR module with commenting enabled and auto-updating working, but most of that time was just my learning a few procedural details. For example, to reliably change the Version #, which the system needs to manage the auto-updates, one should bring up the AIR layout  from “Properties” change the Version #, save the layout, and then generate the module.  I also started with a local generate to my C: drive and only went to the shared drive once I had the procedure down. My IT guy had to help with one step. For some reason, I could not browse to the shared folder for the comments, so we had to cut and paste the path from the AIRHelp file location. 

In summary, RoboHelp does 95% of the work needed to make AIRHelp, so you certainly do not need to be a programmer to generate AIR output from RH. The author’s task is simply to correctly set up the layout. While this step took me a few trials to get right, I am very pleased with the results. If you are a Technical Communicator looking to put some more “sizzle” in your work, I strongly recommend you take a close look at AIRHelp output. AIRHelp shortens the distance and timeline between TCs and  their users. I feel most strongly that AIRHelp is only the beginning of the next generation of Adobe AIR tools that will bring many into the world of Web 2.0 or even Web 3.0! Stay tuned everyone. We’re just getting warmed up!


RJ: I agree; this is just the beginning. I understand that you are including a short Adobe Captivate simulation in your AIRHelp so that your end-users can quickly become familiar with navigating around this new format. Is this something you can share with my readers?

Ed: Sure, RJ. Since AIRHelp was a new cool format for the McKesson Knowledge Base, it seemed logical to make a little simulation to introduce the team to AIRHelp. I created the original simulation in a few hours with Captivate 4. I confess that the idea was Zach’s, but I was happy to use it. After we recently added more modules, I revised the simulation so readers will see the current version . This version has over 400 topics and a number of .pdf baggage files. The compiled AIRHelp file is about 35 MB.  My team is very happy with the instantaneous full text search because it makes everyone’s day a little smoother. Web 2.0 is really here! Adobe AIRHelp Rocks!

RJ: It has been great talking about AIRHelp with you, Ed. Thank you for your time.

Ed: You are welcome and thanks for the opportunity.


Contributing Editor:
Stan Samuels
Stan is a writer, editor, and content developer who lives in Decatur, Georgia. You can view his LinkedIn profile at http://www.linkedin.com/pub/stan-samuels/6/80/492

Additional Resources:

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Introducing Adobe Acrobat.com Workspaces

Today, Adobe is introducing Acrobat.com Workspaces, a new collaboration space that lets teams inside and outside of organizations work together on projects. With Workspaces, team members can store and organize project content online, and easily share and manage team access to files – eliminating the need to continually e-mail updates.  

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Teams can create Shared Workspaces to store and share a set of files related to a project, letting distributed team members work together across times zones and firewalls, with no special file sharing software or IT involvement necessary. 

Workspaces help increase the productivity of project teams by letting members efficiently work together through central, easy-to-use Workspaces.  Users simply access an online Workspace to review and collaborate on documents.

Acrobat.com users can create one free Shared Workspace, while Premium Basic subscribers can create 20 Workspaces and Premium Plus subscribers can create an unlimited number of Workspaces.

More information on Acrobat.com Workspaces can be found on https://acrobat.com/features_online_workspaces.html.

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The Role of Social Media in Technical Communication: Download PDF Portfolio

I have been looking for an opportunity to share a PDF Portfolio and the opportunity just presented itself.

Recently, David Farbey posted on his blog a PDF document of the ISTC’s quarterly journal, Communicator, which has a special supplement
(sponsored by Adobe) on The role
of social media in technical communication
.

 

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Here’s an excerpt of the introduction to this special supplement:

This is the first special supplement to be published with the ISTC’s quarterly journal, Communicator. Our decision to publish it now reflects the impact that many technical communicators expect social media to have on our profession. Our thanks to Adobe Systems for its generous support and to Christie Fidura, EMEA Marketing Manager, for her help.
I should underline that we‘re looking at the professional applications for these tools. Yes, social media is often used for frivolous purposes. No, that’s not all it can do. Before you dismiss it, remember that most have us have been using e-mail groups and online forums for quite some time. What used to be called ‘new media’ is no longer new and it’s up to us to work out how we can make best use of each fresh channel that becomes available.
Here we consider social media from the perspective of how it can be incorporated into an overall information platform that integrates content from various sources and delivers it through various channels. Four articles from well-known contributors explore the potential of social media to fit into our content strategies and address some of our long-standing problems. In particular, we consider its role in communicating with our users, something that
has always been notoriously difficult for technical communicators.

While attending WritersUA in Seattle this week, I demonstrated creating PDF Portfolios in Acrobat 9 Pro and the idea resonated well with our Adobe Technical Communication Suite customers.

For a PDF Portfolio version of this supplement, click the image below and download the file from Acrobat.com. Please note that you need the free Adobe Reader 9 to view the file.

If you are interesting in learning how you can create your own PDF Portfolios like this one, leave a comment and I will publish a how-to video.

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Adobe Creative Suite 5 First Look: April 12th

I have some very exciting news to share with you! Yesterday (3/23/10) we announced that on April 12th you can take a first look at Adobe Creative Suite C5 during an exclusive global launch event on Monday, April 12, 2010 at 8am PDT / 11am EDT / 5pm CEST.

Register now to participate.

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Over the last few months, the CS5 teams have been posting a number of sneak peek videos on functionality they are working on, and from all the videos I have seen, I find this particular one on content-aware fill in Photoshop one of the most compelling features.

I will continue to share more information about the CS5 launch here and on Twitter @rjacquez, please stay tuned.

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I just learned from the Creative Suite 5 team about this cool countdown widget, so I’m embedding it here. Click the "EMBED WIDGET" button to copy the code and paste it in your own blog or web site:

 

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