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Synchronized Document Views: Look ma! No hands!

Feedback can never come fast enough, can it? We live in an age where we are overwhelmed with information, yet we still need more of it NOW! If you are that kind of person – whether you want to be or not – then Acrobat 9 has a capability for you: synchronized document views aka page view sharing. It’s a capability we are so excited about, we just had to call it by more than one name. ;)

Until you try this for yourself, the only way to really understand it is to see it in a real-world scenario.

Here’s a possible one…let’s say I’m an architect for a new office building. The project manager at my client’s location calls me, and leaves me a voicemail saying “Hey! We have a problem with the plans. Call me when you get this.” We’ve all received those messages before, right? So, you start leaving voicemails or sending emails to each other, never really understanding what the problem is or what to do about it. So frustrating. So unproductive. So 2007.

What I really want to do is to have my customer show me exactly where in the floor plan they have a problem, as if they were standing next to me moving my mouse, rubbing my back (this architect is very close to his clients). Only problem is they are on the other side of the country, and I have a meeting in 15 minutes with Mr. Trump about a major construction project. How can we control the view we have of the document right in Acrobat 9 or Reader 9 without having to go into an online or real meeting room, so I can find out where to make the change quickly and accurately?

This is where synchronized document views comes in. It literally allows you to share your view of a PDF document with up to 2 other friends at the same time. You are actually controlling the view of the PDF file in their installation of Acrobat 9 or Reader 9 (yes, Reader 9 users can participate too).

Here is one way you can get to the command…from the new Collaborate taskbar button in Acrobat 9…

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Watch this video to see how it works in action…

Here are a few things to keep in mind:

  • It uses Acrobat.com In case you missed the news, Acrobat.com is a set of online hosted services from Adobe for sharing and collaboration. It’s currently free (and a public beta), but page view sharing uses Acrobat.com’s servers to handle the communication between clients. Acrobat.com uses HTTPS and SSL, and the review initiator can control who can download the PDF document. But it is the only server you can use today for synchronized document views.
  • You need an Adobe ID to initiate. An Adobe ID is a way to authenticate yourself with Acrobat.com to enabled a document for Page View Sharing in Acrobat 9. If you don’t have one yet, you can get one right from within Acrobat 9 or Reader 9: it’s free, you sign up once, and the only information you need to provide includes your name, an email address, your password and the country you reside in. However, you do not need an Adobe ID to participate in page view sharing – you can just sign in as a guest.
  • You need Acrobat 9 to initiate. But you can participate in page view sharing using only Reader 9. It’s not available in previous versions of either application. But you’ll upgrade, right?!
  • It works with 3D content. It’s all about views. So if one of the participants changes the view of a 3D object in the PDF file, the others see the same 3D view. The implications for the manufacturing and AEC industry are huge for when it comes to rapid collaboration on documents.
  • Only three participants at a time. Keep this in mind when distributing your collaboration-enabled documents. Just you and two friends. What you show your friends is up to you…
  • It’s only for PDF documents in Acrobat 9 or Reader 9. This is not screen sharing. But if you need to share other application views, you can also the select the “Share My Screen…” from the new Collaborate Live panel, or from the Collaborate Taskbar button. This will open your free ConnectNow beta meeting room on Acrobat.com, and invite those two friends to join you in a desktop/application screen sharing session.

Which might bring up a good question…why not just use the screen sharing option that’s available? It’s a good discussion point, but one reason is that anyone who is participating in page view sharing can quickly and with minimal fuss share the view of the PDF file they have with others. It’s a conversation where everyone has a say and can contribute.

I think they call that collaboration, don’t they?!

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