For Position Only: Top 10 Reasons to Read "Real World PDF"
I visited amazon.com exactly one month ago, the day I got a box of my new book from the printer, to see if was available for delivery within 24 hours (it was!) and I chuckled at my sales rank: 758,352. I went back yesterday to see if anyone had reviewed it (give me a break, I'm a first-time author, and anal-compulsive to boot) -- no one had offered an opinion, but my sales rank had climbed to 83,776.
Hurray! "Real World PDF with Adobe Acrobat 5" (Peachpit Press) is on its way to being a best seller!
Seriously, though, it's a relief just to see the book on the shelves, virtual or otherwise. When I set out to write it last spring, I had no idea how much there was to learn and know about using PDF in print production workflows. I'm going to use my 1,000 words this week to share with you some of the more interesting and educational nuggets of information that are in the book, or, in shameless promotional parlance, give you the Top 10 Reasons to Buy My Book.
10. Printing PDF Files. You'll learn, as I did, that it's so tremendously easy to create reliable PDF files for print production in Acrobat 5.0 that there's practically no reason not to. While previously you had to manually save PostScript files and then distill them, now you can produce PDF files from within any application's Print dialog box: Choose Create Adobe PDF (Mac) or Acrobat Distiller (Windows) as your printer, choose from the available job options that appear, and click Save. It could hardly be simpler.
And since the book came out, Adobe has released a maintenance upgrade to Acrobat 5.05. One of the best features of this upgrade is on the Mac side: the addition of the PDFMaker plug-in, already available in Windows, that places an incredibly convenient button, Convert to Adobe PDF, in your Microsoft Office applications' toolbar. Click it to save your open document as a PDF file according to your currently chosen job options. (The Mac and Windows Acrobat 5.05 upgrade is available free from the Downloads section of Adobe.com.)
9. Distilling vs. Exporting. I explain to you the difference between printing (distilling) and exporting PDF files from Adobe and other applications. Being the astute designer or publisher that you are, I know you've noticed the options to Save As PDF or Export PDF from many of your content creation applications. Using these commands doesn't necessarily result in distilled PDF files: Some of them route documents through Acrobat or other libraries to create the PDF. This tends to result in different page sizes in the final PDF -- not a problem as long as it's not a surprise -- and when you use these commands in Photoshop 6, Illustrator 9 or 10, and InDesign 2, it preserves editable object transparency. When is this useful? I tell you in Chapter 2.
8. Seeing a Melt Down. There are lots of pictures of my 4-year-old daughter, including a cute one in which she's playing dress-up with a friend, and one in which she's having a complete and utter meltdown. I like that last one because she'll be thoroughly embarrassed by it when she's 16.
7. Finding Workflow Stability. For those of you still working under the illusion that PDF print production workflows are cumbersome and kludged, let me set the record straight. The current PDF spec, 1.4, is extremely robust and stable. And there are tools for every production environment and pocketbook, from plug-ins to third-party apps to entire prepress systems, to take PDF files through every prepress task and onto press.
6. Picking the Right PDF Format. Depending on how you're thinking of using PDF -- in print production or for electronic documents -- you've got choices to make. In print production, you can hand off PDF, PostScript application files, TIFF/IT files, or one of the PDF/X flavors: PDF/X-1, PDF/X-2, PDF/X-3. In electronic publishing, you can choose between PDF and XML. It's a sea of acronyms, to be sure, but climb on my boat and I'll help you navigate these waters by explaining what all of these technologies are, and when they're each appropriate to use.
By the way, you don't have to just take my word for it. Dozens of design and prepress professionals who use PDF every day share their stories and experiences with PDF in the book. For example, David DePaolo, president and CEO of workcompcentral.com, explains how his site uses PDF for electronic forms, and Thomas Kuo, vice president of engineering at ComicsOne.com, explains how they distill one application file into two PDF files: one for an e-book and the other for an identical print book.
5. Saving Relationships. If you buy the book, I won't have to promote it by showing it to every neighbor, friend, and family member who comes over to visit. My daughter won't have to huff and say, "You're talking about that book again!?"
4. Annotating PDF Files. Having used PDF over the years to review and mark up page proofs for countless drafts of books and magazine articles, I must say that I haven't been an avid fan of Acrobat's annotation tools. They're easy enough to use, yes, but if you're the unlucky soul who has to collate feedback from multiple reviewers, I've long felt sorry for you (or me). Happily, Acrobat 5.0's comments features are leaps and bounds ahead of its predecessors. Did you know that you can toggle on sequence numbers for reviewer's comments to be sure you don't miss something? And -- this is new and very exciting -- you can print out comments. That's just the starting point. The intrepid among you might even be interested in leveraging the capability to share comments online within a Web browser, and letting Acrobat synthesize all the feedback into one file. Chapter 4 is all about how to use, manage, and share comments efficiently.
3. Creating e-Books If you're like me, your heart, skills, and clients are print-centric. When I began writing the book, my goal was to explain how to use PDF in print production, but I became fascinated by the fluidity that PDF brings to e-books. While PDF has traditionally represented dots -- dots to be imaged by a printer or onscreen -- you can now create structured and tagged PDF 1.4 files that recognize when dots are parts of letters, which are parts of words, which are parts of sentences, and so on. Structured PDF files contain a hierarchy of information, and as a result you can reflow information onto different devices, such as laptop and handheld computers. This opens up brave new worlds for publishers who are ready to take the plunge into this new business venture.
2. Justifying My Hours. The three months I spent working till 11 p.m. won't have been in vain if I solve one production problem or open one door for you, such as by explaining how Adobe has improved color management in Acrobat 5.0 and made it seamless with Photoshop, Illustrator, and InDesign, and added onscreen CYMK proof views.
1. Helping You Find the Answers. You can email me with any comments or questions that I will do my best to answer (send comments here and note that the message is for me). You can make suggestions or corrections for me to incorporate into the next edition, for Acrobat 6.0. Just don't ask when it's coming out. Not until after I take a good, long vacation -- or two -- and this edition makes it a little higher up in Amazon.com's best-seller chart.
Read more by Anita Dennis.
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