Software Review: Hands on with Adobe Acrobat 9 Pro Extended: The ‘Swiss Army Knife’ of High-Tech 3-D Collaboration

For me, this hands-on experience began earlier this year at the 3D Collaboration and Interoperability conference in Denver Colorado. That’s when I had my first peak at what is now Acrobat 9 Pro Extended. The Denver conference’s attendees had flown in from the world’s major manufacturing companies looking for a better way to securely coordinate their highly complex 3D collaboration. And, just in time, Adobe was about to release its comprehensive collaboration solution.

This multifaceted software includes all the tools and interconnectivity designers and managers need to pull together complex collaborative input from a global talent pool, and now that the software has passed through months of extensive beta testing and is on the shelves or ready for download, I expect it will play a central role in next year’s event.

Acrobat 9 Pro Extended allows dispersed design and development teams to collect and coordinate diverse content and coordinate multiple inputs into a single collaborative environment.

Built on the solid foundation of the Acrobat we’re all familiar with, the words ‘Extended’ and ‘Pro’ are what give this collaboration tool its power, and it is these new integrated features that I’ve evaluated and will share with you in this review.

At the top of Acrobat 9’s extended features is a stylistically customizable PDF Portfolio that can include multiple PDF and MS Office documents replete with embedded rich media such as video, audio, interactive 3D models and various Flash widgets that get the point across in a succinct and compelling way. It even allows users to embed links to web pages for more in-depth information. For instance, users can package a spread sheet showing cost analysis with a descriptive Word document that includes an interactive 3D model, with a PowerPoint presentation and then share it all interactively on the Web with a worldwide audience.

Creating a customized portfolio is both intuitive and straight forward, and it all starts with building the individual elements that will comprise the portfolio.

Once Acrobat Pro Extended is installed several Microsoft applications contain Adobe PDF action buttons and pull-down menus that allow users to embed rich media objects and then convert these documents into lightweight PDF format for inclusion in the portfolio.

Figure 1 – Acrobat PDF Action Buttons Shown in PowerPoint 2007

I decided to populate my test portfolio with a mix of editable MS apps and PDF docs to simulate how this tool is used in the real world.

Including 3D Models

When designers collaborate they ideally want to experience and share their 3D content in 360-degree format, and that’s exactly what Acrobat 9 Pro Extended delivers. You can optionally import a 3D model directly into Acrobat, or drop it into an MS document. When you bring it directly into Acrobat you have immediate control of the object and are able to perform such operations as full view rotation, changing its appearance from solid to, wireframe, transparency, illustration, or solid outline, adding measurements, sticky notes, lighting and all the other view manipulations you’d expect in a high-end 3D CAD viewer

Figure 2 – Embedded 3D Model with Editing Toolbar and Dimensioning

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Review Article
  • Dimensional Engineering Mentor December 23, 2008
    Reviewed by 'Michael'
    While the subject matter and review of Adobe 9 are interesting it would appear that Adobe 9 falls far short of Teamcenter,PLM Express, or other Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) software that it will need to compete with in the engineering / manufacturing sector.
    Mr. Heller is obviously impressed by fun graphics and bright colors, more so than with actual practical functional deployment of such a software within industry or across a global supplier base. This article is vague at best on the usefulness and compliance with existing standards such as the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) Y14.41 - 2003 standards for Data Sets and Associativity.
    As stated in this article to edit the posted model one must detach the model from the .pdf format and make edits then reformat into .pdf for sharing and collaboration. While I'm a fan of the very accessable .pdf format being used to share data across a global company or through a global supplier network, this detaching and reattaching violates the tenants of the Master model philosophy. That philosophy holds that there shall be one model, source of all design and manufacturing data, visible to all, but editable by one. The article is vague as to whether or not anyone can make edits with a copy of your .pdf document and acad software (like your supplier or customer who should not have design rights) or if these edits must be made on a master model and all viewers are automatically updated. Adobe being innteroperable with NX, Catia, or PRO-E software, not just CAD models, would be real innovations for Adobe, and worthy of an article.
    The article presents Adobe 9 as another possible toy for Management and IT to be distracted with, but in the end pails in comparison with real PLM software.
    I'm sure it would be useful to a bunch of marketing or sales people who don't need to be accountable for their design data.

      6 of 9 found this review helpful.
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