Updated commenting in Acrobat DC

UPDATE 2016-07-13 Adobe has since put the replace text icon back (see this post) but I will leave this post here for posterity.

On 10 May 2016, Adobe released compulsory updates for Acrobat DC and Acrobat Reader DC. Unlike many updates where there is a prompt to install the upgrade or not, this release did not present the user with a prompt and installed the update.

I was aware an update had taken place because there was a new prompt window that would not disappear until I had selected the checkboxes that acknowledged that I had learned the new features.

That said, I should have paid a bit more attention to the update, especially this one!

It was not until late May that a colleague who was proofreading some artwork had noticed that a fundamental commenting tool was missing: Replace text. Concerned, I opened PDF that I sent my colleague and attempted to edit it, indeed learning that the replace text commenting tool was missing, along with the highlight and comment tool.

A quick search on the forums revealed that we weren’t the only ones to notice. Strange too because not all of the Adobe help issues have been changed to reflect the recent update. This page still has old instructions.

In short, to improve the experience with the commenting tool, users are encouraged to use the black arrow tool to highlight affected text and either hit the delete key to denote a deletion, begin typing to denote a replacement, or place their cursor and begin typing to denote an addition. To be fair, once a user is familiar with this behaviour, it is easy to begin making alterations to a proof.

However, I was less than impressed with Adobe’s execution of this strategy by removing tools to force us to use the new tools, especially considering that the change wasn’t explained in their own updates. I decided to vent my spleen via twitter to Adobe’s customer care and the Acrobat team.

awfulupdate

As you can see from the tweets, it largely fell on deaf ears.

The reason for my frustration is not my one-off frustration in learning the new commands, but the fact that I now have to explain this behaviour to hundreds of customers who infrequently use Adobe Acrobat. It has taken years to train the customers to use the commenting tools so that markups can be made that can then be edited in Adobe InDesign using the DTP tools annotations plug-in. That’s assuming that the Adobe Acrobat team doesn’t change the interface again and decide to remove more tools.

This is not my only gripe with Adobe Acrobat at the moment. My colleagues and I are experiencing strange and unusual errors with Acrobat at the moment. In fairness to Adobe, this may have something to do with the Enfocus Pitstop plug-in that is installed. Regardless, it is making what was once an efficient workflow much more complicated.

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Now you see it, now you don’t… why?

Several posts ago I wrote a piece concerning Acrobat XI and its ability to undock the comments panel so that it could be moved away from the right hand side of the screen. This had advantages when scrolling the list of comments, as to get to the comments further down the list you have to use the slider (that can sometimes miss comments if scrolled too far) or single-click the arrow at the bottom of the scrollbar, and this can inadvertently:

  • Invoke my Dock to pop up on my mac;
  • Invoke a “hot corner” action on my mac that is set to the bottom right of the screen;
  • Inadvertently open an email alert that pops up via Microsoft Outlook (alerts pop up on the bottom right of the screen).

Read the full article here.

The solution was to click on a button within the commenting panel that would allow the list to be undocked. Here is how it used to look in Acrobat XI:

trackalts2However, in Acrobat DC, the “Undock Comment List” is no more!

wherediditgo

There is no ability to change this in the Commenting Preferences either.

This might seem like a rather obscure feature, but when working with marked-up PDFs as a workflow it is a handy feature to have that will save lots of time.

Fortunately, the ability to view comments that were unchecked does remain… for now!

However, I am less than impressed so far with Acrobat DC, and this is largely due to the way it was released. When the product was made live via Creative Cloud, Acrobat DC appeared as an upgrade, but what wasn’t apparent is that uninstalled the existing version of Acrobat! Luckily there were other users that experienced this before me and had tweeted about it:

taketh3For most users, this may not have been a problem, but my version of Acrobat was also running a paid plug-in and had several scripts that had modified the user interface menus, such as the ability to reverse the page order or collate another PDF into the currently opened PDF. So installing Acrobat DC would have completely deleted these enhancements, and meant putting them back on… and in the case of the plug-in, would have meant purchasing the new version (there was no free update to work with Acrobat DC), and waiting until it was available!

To be fair to Adobe, they have now amended the installation process and introduced a checkbox that is ticked on by default that says “Remove old versions”. I’m glad we’re now given a warning and an option, however I think the default of that option should be ticked OFF.

That said, Adobe have received the message loud and clear not to do it again. I say that as an attendee of the PEPCON 2015 Conference in Philadelphia, where attendees met the Adobe InDesign engineers on day three for a general questions and answers session, where this (and many other suggestions) were passed directly onto the team.

Unfortunately, it came a little too late for the find font panel in CC2015. Mike Rankin at indesignsecrets.com posted this piece on the sudden disappearance of icons in the find font menu of Adobe InDesign that many in prepress find invaluable.

See it at the final size… finally!

Two previous Colecandoo articles (part one and part two) discussed the inability of InDesign to control the view size and appearance of PDFs that were exported using the Adobe PDF export function from the file menu.

Since the June release of Adobe InDesign CC 2015, this is no longer an issue. As part of the PDF export dialog box, a new “viewing” portion has been added to the interface that allows for the view size and the layout.

exportpdf1It is worth noting though that the compatibility dropdown of the PDF export options must be set to Acrobat 6 (PDF 1.5) before this feature will fully display all options in the layout dropdown field. If the compatibility dropdown is set to Acrobat 5 (PDF 1.4) or lower, then two of the layout options – Two-Up (Facing) and Two-Up (Cover Page) – will be greyed out.

exportpdf2It is great that this feature has been added to the PDF export interface. Let us see if future releases of InDesign CC can also incorporate other PDF export features such as:

  • Ability to create and export PDF comments directly in an InDesign file; and
  • More support for PDF forms.

Just to find fault however, I have noticed that the Pages portion of the PDF export Dialog box has NOT incorporated a change that was made to the print dialog box, and that was the inclusion of the option for “current page”.

See it at the final size – view size and Acrobat: Part 2

2015-07-03 NOTE: This article is now out of date since the release of Adobe InDesign CC 2015. However, I have left the article here for posterity.

A previous Colecandoo article presented a way of being able to control the view size and page presentation of PDFs used as soft-proofs for clients. The solution was to use the Actions tool in Adobe Acrobat to apply an appropriate action that contains the necessary view size/page presentation settings.

This method certainly works, but there is a far more easy method that can be done directly from Adobe InDesign, and that is to export as an interactive PDF.

As a printer that, I had created very little interactive content until recently. I felt that the “Export to Interactive PDF” was only of use for content that contained form fields or other interactive elements, so I had not considered this an option… until now. In fact, this method is much easier than the method described in the previous article. Once again though, this should only be used when a client is checking the content of the PDF only.

To do this, select File/Export (or command + e on a Mac) and from the dialog box, select Adobe PDF (Interactive) from the dropdown list and click Save.

interpic01A new dialog box will appear showing the available options for export, including the view and layout settings.

interpic02If preparing a proof that is to appear as readers spreads, be careful that it is possible to select the same view in two places in this dialog box, with some unwanted consequences.

interpic03To avoid this, use the Two-Up (Cover Page) option available from the Layout dropdown menu, rather than the Spreads option from the Pages/Spreads radio buttons.

The method still needs improvement…

One important note is that unlike the PDF export option for print, there is no way to save export presets for Interactive PDFs. Instead, the options used to last export an interactive PDF are maintained for the next export.

With this in mind, PDFs can also be exported en masse using Peter Kahrel’s batch convert script, but make sure that prior to using the script, one file is correctly exported to interactive PDF before using the script. Peter’s instructions do say this already, but it is worth writing it again.

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