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October 26, 2009

Hold the phone! Recent study shows familiar collaboration tools still widely used

What is the number one technology in use today for collaboration by employees in companies across the United States and Europe? According to a recently published study by Forrester Consulting, it is the telephone*. A close joint second are face-to-face meetings and email. Hang on! What about things like wikis and blogs? Sorry, Web 2.0 fans: their usage for collaboration within the enterprise is still relatively low, but will grow.

Continue reading “Hold the phone! Recent study shows familiar collaboration tools still widely used” »

August 21, 2009

Acrobat and Word for Commenting Part 1: Export Word Comments to PDF

Adobe Acrobat 9 has review and markup capabilities. Microsoft Word 2007 has review and markup capabilities. Having said that, I am not going to go into a lengthy discussion of how one application excels in these capabilities over the other [phew!]. They are both great at what they are intended to do, and you can use both workflows together to help review cycles go that much smoother.

So how could you use them together? As expected, Microsoft Word can be used for seeing what’s changed as you author the document and go through versions, and Acrobat to gather feedback from one or more reviewers where they all the see the same thing, including other reviewers comments, without changing things in the document and without having to buy additional software. As you go through review cycles and various iterations of the document, you can incorporate comments and markup between the DOC/DOCX and PDF files, as well as have Acrobat apply the suggested and accepted changes for you back in to the source.

I have split these tips in to two entries: first up, going from Word to Acrobat…

[I am using Microsoft Word 2007 for these tips, but you can certainly use earlier supported versions of Word too. Sorry my Mac brothers and sisters who use Office 2008: this doesn’t apply to you. You can skip over this blog entry, but there are lots of others you can read instead.]

Export Comments From Word to PDF

If you already have comments in the source Word document, you can include those in the resulting PDF file that you send out for review.

First go into your Acrobat PDFMaker Preferences, either from the Acrobat ribbon in Word 2007, or the Acrobat menu in an earlier version of Word. Click on the Word tab. Select “Convert displayed comments to notes in Adobe PDF” (it’s deselected by default).

Once you have checked that off, you can then be more selective about what is converted to sticky notes in the PDF file. For each reviewer you can:

  • set whether to include their comments in the resulting PDF file
  • decide whether the notes should be open or not in the PDF file
  • choose the color the sticky notes will be (keep clicking the colored note to cycle through some standard colors)

exportwordcomments.jpg

Click OK to set the preferences (remember that PDFMaker preferences are sticky and will be used the next time you create a PDF file from Word this way). When you create the PDF file by clicking on the Create PDF button on the Word ribbon/toolbar (don’t create the PDF by printing to the Adobe PDF in this case), you will get a PDF file with the notes placed where you originally clicked to add a Word comment.

Acrobat will use the user name as configured in Word’s options as the Author for the PDF note. The note Subject will be empty as there is no equivalent in Word comments. And Accept and Reject are not flags in Word as they are in Acrobat – accepting a Word comment just keeps it in the document – so that is also ignored.

I have to thank the Acrobat engineering for also remembering to set the opacity of the notes in the resulting PDF to 30%, otherwise the notes would be covering all the text!

Note that if you send out the document for a Shared Review, these comments will have a new Author (whoever initiated the review) with “On behalf of…” added to the note pop-up text.

publishexistingcomments.jpg

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[It’s the little details that Acrobat 9 has that I personally love and that make all the difference.]

Stay tuned for part 2 of this article where I walk you through exporting PDF comments from Acrobat back to Word, and have Acrobat apply edits for you.

March 25, 2009

“Accessibility is NOT a checklist”

This might seem somewhat off-topic from my blog theme. Well, actually, it isn’t. It’s something that has to be just part of the way you work with any kind of electronic document. Rob Foster posted this article that is so well done and such a good wake-up call that I had to share it.

“From my perspective, accessibility is about giving a crap…accessibility is NOT a checklist…accessibility is about usability.”

Thank you, Rob.

March 13, 2009

From Shredding the Document: Seeking Feedback From SharePoint Users

The Acrobat and Adobe Reader product teams are looking for feedback from those of you that use PDF files with Microsoft SharePoint. From the Shredding the Document blog:

Are you an active SharePoint user who works with PDF files on SharePoint? If you are and you’re willing to have an hour phone call with Adobe, please post a comment on this blog with your business email address. (This email address will be hidden to everyone except Adobe.)

If you would like to participate, please make sure you post your comment on the Shredding the Document blog article. Otherwise, let me know how you are using SharePoint with Acrobat and Adobe Reader. Thank you in advance for your participation and feedback.

November 25, 2008

Adobe MAX 2008 San Francisco: Ali’s Debrief

Did you make it to Adobe MAX 2008 in San Francisco last week? If so, I hope you found it valuable, and just as importantly, I hope you were inspired to use more of the technology available to you, and made some new connections and friends. I was fortunate enough to be one of the presenters this year, my first at MAX. Here’s a recap from me on the sessions I participated in or presented as they relate to collaboration, Acrobat software and PDF files.

Continue reading “Adobe MAX 2008 San Francisco: Ali’s Debrief” »

October 17, 2008

Page View Sharing: Do You Have An Interesting Way of Using It?

One of the standout new capabilities for Acrobat 9 and Reader 9 is the ability for up to 3 document viewers to share the view of the page that they have of the document. As Mac|Life magazine said “Running a Shared Review session that’s broadcast with Collaborate Live is an easy and powerful way to get a team working together—not to mention being literally on the same page.”

Continue reading “Page View Sharing: Do You Have An Interesting Way of Using It?” »

June 04, 2008

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…

sendcollablivemenu.gif

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?!

March 28, 2008

Why Shared Reviews?

We already had browser-based reviews from Acrobat 5.0, and then email-based reviews in Acrobat 7.0. So why do we now have Shared Reviews to deal with too?

A good question! It is an important one to consider if you are looking at standardizing on a way to conduct reviews on documents as quickly and as pain-free as possible.

If you are not familiar with Shared Reviews, then I am sorry to say this is not the blog entry to find out. But don’t stop reading! There are lots of good articles and tutorials on the subject, including a video tutorial yours truly created last year, posted on this page, and an article on this very subject here from 2006 with Randy Swineford, Acrobat Product Manager.

So why are Shared Reviews the way to go…?

  1. You do not need Acrobat 8 to be a reviewer. That reason alone could justify the cost of Acrobat 8 Professional or Acrobat 3D Version 8, as those are the software applications you need to initiate a Shared Review AND enable the document for commenting and markup in the free Adobe Reader 8. Basically, it means virtually anyone can participate in a review cycle. Note, Acrobat 8 Standard can initiate a Shared Review, but it does not have the Reader-enablement goodness.
  2. The PDF document can be distributed anyway you like. Via the web. To an email list. From a network folder. On your childs iPod. It does not matter. It is a totally flexible workflow, because all the information that Acrobat or Adobe Reader need to participate in a Shared Review is baked in to the PDF document itself (at 400 degrees fahrenheit for 35 minutes, in case you were wondering). Whether you open the PDF locally in Acrobat or Adobe Reader directly, or within Internet Explorer, Firefox Windows or Safari, you can go ahead and give your feedback.
  3. You can get feedback from people almost instantaneously. Shared Reviews work by uploading comments to a Shared Location: a network share, a WebDAV folder (such as Apple’s .mac iDisk), or a Microsoft Sharepoint Workspace. Other reviewers can see what everyone else is saying by reading those comments from the shared location. And Acrobat and Reader 8’s Tracker And Shared Reviews Welcome screen also read those comments so that they can show who has responded and how many comments have been made.
  4. You can work online or offline. Unlike browser-based reviews which required you to be online at all times to submit and view comments, Shared Reviews cache the comments you add to the document until you tell Acrobat or Reader to publish them, or they get published automatically after a certain period of time (that is set in the Preferences, by the way). If you are working offline, the comments are cached in the PDF until you are back online and ready to publish. If you are disconnected, Acrobat or Reader will know it, cache your comments, and try to reconnect to the shared location to check for and publish only the new or updated comments. And if after all that you still cannot connect to the shared location server, Acrobat or Reader 8 will ask you a) if you would like to email your comments back to the initiator who can upload them on your behalf and b) if you would like to see ways to improve your social and professional status so that you always have access to the shared location server (kidding on that last one).
  5. Comments are tagged with metadata about you as a reviewer. Nothing too revealing (“this reviewer is currently participating in his pajamas” isn’t in there), but information such as name, email, and a time and date stamp are included. This has a couple of benefits: 1) everyone can see who said what and 2) other reviewers cannot change your comments. That last one is particularly important. If you want to comment on someone else’s comment, you can just reply in the pop-up for each comment or markup. It’s like social networking chat, but with a purpose.

If any one of the above reasons seem compelling to you, and if you have not tried a Shared Review in Acrobat 8, it may be time do so. It really is easy to start a Shared Review session, and even easier to participate. Grab a document you are working on right now, convert it to PDF, and send it for Shared Review using Acrobat 8 to someone you know will give you glowing-but-constructive feedback, no matter how bad your writing skills are. Have fun!

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