SMUG gets smart !
Author: Steve Kayner
Date: January, 1994
Keywords: Adobe Acrobat software known users newsletter
Text: SMUG gets smart ! By Steve Kayner, SMUG Member Computers have changed the way we do business, and continuous advancements are being made that promise even greater benefits in productivity and cost savings. Some of these advances are obvious, like the PowerPC, while others are more subtle. The Adobe Acrobat products have the potential to staunch the flow of paper brought on by the computer revolution. Unfortunately, the concept may take a while to catch on. What is the concept? To provide the ability to view, cut and paste, search text, create links, attach notes to, and print fully formatted documents regardless of applications, fonts, or platforms. Acrobat is not complicated to use, and can greatly simplify and lower the cost of distributing documents. It will be necessary to shift our way of thinking about information to take advantage of what Adobe has made available to us. The technology is here today. Will we be smart enough to pick it up and run with it? Adobe Acrobat Starter Kit The Kit includes licenses for 10 of the Mac or Windows Acrobat Exchange, and 2 of the Mac or Windows Acrobat Distiller. The Acrobat Starter kit weighs in at about 3 lbs., but oddly enough, there's not one manual in the box. Instead of manuals, the package includes a fistful of four-page cards: Exchange Quick Reference, Distiller Quick Reference, and Getting Started for both the Distiller and Exchange. There are different cards for the Mac and Windows versions. They've made it that simple - no manuals are needed. There are plenty of diskettes: 7 for the Windows versions of Distiller and Exchange, 10 for the Mac versions. There are 2 Mac disks for the Adobe Postscript Printer Driver v8.01, and one disk containing a PDF (Portable Document Format) file extolling the merits of Acrobat. The package also includes the Font Reunion program, on the ''bundle version'' 2.0b of the Type on Call CD-ROM, with no less than 265 typefaces just a credit card number away from being available for use. Acrobat Exchange Acrobat Exchange creates files as a Chooser selectable "driver." Exchange also allows creation of links, thumbnails, bookmarks and notes in a document and permits electronic viewing of that document. Exchange for Macintosh will work on all Macs from the Mac Plus on up. The minimum System is 6.0.5, and it requires at least 2MB of application RAM, and 7.5MB of disk space for the installation (only 3.5MB once the installer has finished). The minimum equipment requirements to run Acrobat Exchange for Windows are: 386 or 486 processor, Windows 3.1, 640 x 480 VGA display or better, and 4-8MB of RAM. Acrobat Exchange will run on a 4MB machine, but 8MB is recommended. I started with the Mac version of Acrobat Exchange, which uses the Apple Installer. Accepting the ''easy install'' option, a folder called Acrobat Exchange was created, with 1.7MB worth of files in it. Adobe Type Manager 3.6 (ATM) was installed and some of the basic fonts were removed from the System file (System 7.0.1) and replaced with Adobe equivalent bitmapped fonts. A couple of Multiple Master fonts were also added. Adobe outline fonts were installed into the Extensions folder, along with Type Reunion and the PDFWriter (for 994K), and the ATM Control Panel and a PDFWriter Shortcut were added to the Control Panels folder (for 107K). The installation must have been good for my System file, which went from 1.7MB down to a svelte 1.4MB. The interactive Acrobat Exchange Tour provides a quick way to get some hands on use of the program. It's not complicated, and since there are no manuals with the product, it makes sense that they provide this. The Tour takes about 10-15 minutes and gives a good feel for all the features of Acrobat Exchange. There are several text files with update information in them and there are many incompatibilities that have been discovered. Some have work-arounds, and others do not. Fortunately, none of them required me to change my setup beyond increasing the memory allocation for Exchange to 4000K, and the ATM cache to 512K. Owners of Apple's Personal LaserWriter NT will need to look closely at the warnings for that device. After running the Tour and reading all the text files, I tried creating a PDF file from a simple GraphMaster chart. Using the Chooser to select the PDFWriter and send a print job to it worked well. I then selected the LaserWriter IINT as the printer, and sent the PDF chart to be printed. It was complete in less than 2 minutes. I went back the original GraphMaster chart, and sent it to the printer. It took nearly eight minutes to print without Acrobat. It was faster to create the PDF file, open it in the Exchange and print it, than continued on page 9 it was to print directly from GraphMaster. Curious, that it works this way, but not bad. The Acrobat Exchange is pretty cool stuff. It has VCR-type buttons for navigation within a PDF file. It lets you place notes represented by icons anywhere on a document, and when you double-click that icon, the note pops open. It lets you place bookmarks, with outline style notation, if desired. There are also tools for creating links between parts of a document, and for searching for text within a PDF file. The Exchange can print color or black and white to both PostScript and non-PostScript printers, and allows the user to cut and paste text into other applications. PDF documents can also be collated from one another to create new documents or extend existing ones. The Exchange employs efficient compression techniques that result in relatively compact files. The viewing options are what sets Exchange apart from the competition. It has tools for zooming in and out from 25% to 800%, and there are buttons for viewing at actual size, full width, and full page. It also has the capability to create thumbnail images of all pages. Then, using the thumbnails you can navigate around the document by pointing and clicking on them, or by dragging the view box within the thumbnail of the currently displayed page. Acrobat Distiller Distiller creates documents in pdf file format with embedded fonts and EPS graphics from PostScript files made by any program.The Distiller offers an excellent selection of graphics compression and downsampling options and also will generate thumbnail images. The minimum requirements for running the Macintosh version of
Distiller are steep: a 68020 or greater processor, System 6.05 or greater, and a minimum of 6MB of RAM (12MB recommended). The minimum equipment requirements to run Distiller for Windows are steeper yet: 386 or 486 processor (387 math coprocessor recommended for Distiller), Windows 3.1, 640 x 480 VGA display or better, and 8- 12MB of RAM. Acrobat Distiller for Windows will run on an 8MB machine, but 12MB is recommended. My first victim was an 8MB Mac IIci with a meager array of INITs with virtual memory turned on. Installation of the Acrobat Distiller went smoothly, placing the 1.6MB Distiller application on the startup drive. (The installation replaced the mini-ATM Font Database with the full version. Also, a prior installation of the Acrobat Reader or the Acrobat Exchange is needed if ATM 3.6 is not already in place.) Just for grins, I next created PostScript files from a number of applications, and ran them through the Distiller. Using a variety of the new LaserWriter 8 driver options for creating the PostScript files: ASCII, binary, PostScript Levels 1 & 2, and font inclusion, I Distilled five documents. A complex, multilayered 39K Canvas chart became a 5K PDF file after 3:06 minutes. A 39K, one-page, Word 5.1 document became a 12 PDF file in 56 seconds. A 7 page, 230K, Word 5.1 document with PICT graphics and lots of tables became a 24K PDF file in a mere 1:40 minutes. A 308K GraphMaster chart became a 12K PDF file in just under 2 minutes, and a simple 17K MacDraw II file became a 5K PDF file in 25 seconds. There were two errors reported by the scrolling text field displayed by the Distiller during its handiwork. The Geneva and Chicago fonts could not be found, and were replaced with Courier in the GraphMaster and MacDraw documents. These two fonts were resident in an active suitcase that was being tracked by Suitcase II v2.12 (this being a System 7.0.1 machine). The Distiller was searching its own fonts folder and the System file for its fonts, and missed those provided by Suitcase. All of the Distilled PDF files opened without problems and printed nicely using the Acrobat Exchange program. The output was essentially the same as the output from the original creator applications, except for the Courier font substitution in two of the files. I had no trouble installing the Adobe Exchange and Distiller for Windows on an 8MB IBM computer (except for the call to IBM tech support to get the damn thing to boot, but that's another story for a long, cold, dark winter's night...). The two programs worked fine in the Windows environment and PDF documents created on one platform worked equally as well on the other. It should be noted that PostScript files are also transportable, at least from the Mac to the IBM. After some experimentation, I finally got down to the real task at hand. I used PageMaker 5.0 on a PowerBook 170 to generate a 3.7MB PostScript file from a 10 page newsletter with lots of small graphics. In 13 minutes I had it Distilled down to a 345K PDF file. I was astonished when I moved the newsletter PDF file to a color machine and viewed it with Acrobat Exchange. There were colors in the graphics on several pages of the newsletter. Our goal for using Acrobat has been to create an online version of Known Users (the newsletter of the Sequoia Macintosh Users' Group), which will help reduce our expenses. We had tried another portable document program, but its embedable mini-viewer lacked the ability to zoom, and couldn't do justice to the 9 point text that we use. We tried to negotiate a deal for a site license for a package with the zooming feature, but the publisher was not interested in such a small quantity (~100 users). From its first announcement, we were very interested in using Adobe's suite of Acrobat products, but initially the cost of providing the Acrobat Reader, which allows electronic viewing (only) of the docs created by Distiller and Exchange, to our user group members was prohibitive. However, recent releases of Adobe products on CD- ROM have included the Acrobat Reader at no extra cost. The free Software Dispatch CD-ROM that Apple is giving away, (call 1-800- 937-2828 extension 600 to take advantage of the offer), also includes the Acrobat Reader. So, while the Acrobat Reader will not become freeware, it is being distributed in a manner that is much more likely to make Acrobat the standard for portable document distribution. There are presently Readers available for Macintosh, Windows, DOS and Unix. In their effort to bring all of us up to speed on this new concept of document distribution, Adobe Press (through Prentice Hall) has published a small paperback book titled ''Beyond Paper'' (ISBN 1- 56830-050-6, $16.95). ''Beyond Paper'' is aimed at businesses, and provides clear examples of how to employ Acrobat and what benefits can be realized by doing so. Included are real world examples of cost savings and how they are achieved. If the Acrobat concept sounds appealing, this book goes a long way toward clarifying the future of documents. The Adobe Acrobat Starter Kit $1395 list, $669 street, is availabe from: Adobe Systems Incorporated P.O. Box 7900 Mountain View, CA 94039-7900 1-800-862-3623
Copyright © january, 1994 by Steve Kayner