Technical communicators receive content from several contributors, for example, from design, engineering, marketing and support teams. Once the content has been gathered, organized and laid out in the output formats, it needs to be reviewed by the contributors for accuracy and completeness. Sending source project files and long documents with conditional text and variables for review is probably not the best option. Here, PDF creation capability in authoring tools and review and commenting functionality in Acrobat becomes really useful.
During our discussion at the Writer’s UA conference, many customers appreciated this functionality. PDF retains the visual appearance of the content as well as de-links the review and commenting workflow from the project source files. In a PDF document, a content contributor can highlight text, mark deleted text, insert new text, add sticky notes, reply to comments from other reviewers and send these back to the initiator of the review. You can also attach an audio file as a comment to PDF document.
With Acrobat 8 Professional or Acrobat 3D version 8, you can conduct shared reviews. Anyone with Adobe Reader 8 can participate. When you send a document for shared review, all reviewers can see and reply to each other’s comments as they are made. For shared review, the PDF document needs to be on a shared network with read/write access to all reviewers. It takes less than a minute to set up the shared network folder, specify a deadline for the review to complete and send e-mails to participants.
Both FrameMaker and RoboHelp can create PDF. If you haven’t tried this review functionality in Acrobat, please do take a look. I welcome your comments and suggestions.