WHEN IT COMES to maximizing productivity on any construction or renovation project, having the participants actively review a document has a lot of advantages over an electronic document that is read only. Enter a streamlined method of electronic document review process, cleverly enabled by innovations-added to the latest versions of Adobe Acrobat and Adobe Reader.
Many project participants in recent years have come to rely on Adobe Reader, a free downloadable piece of software that lets recipients read PDF files that are often sent as e-mail attachments or downloaded from the Web. Until recently, the review was read only.
PDF stands for portable document format, a universal compact file format that, when accessed on the Web or elsewhere, not only preserves the layout of a source document but also the graphics, images and fonts.
Adobe has now simultaneously rolled out both Adobe Acrobat 7.0 Professional-(www.adobe.com/aec), which can create PDF documents to share over the Internet and through other means, and Adobe Reader 7.0 (free from www.adobe.com), which allows contractors an excellent way to handle interactive design and document review and collaboration.
With these latest editions, the software developer eliminated the irritating delay that held computer users hostage every time they opened up the programs. Adobe Acrobat 7.0 enjoys not only much faster start-up than 6.0 and earlier versions but also far speedier loading and displaying of files. Ditto the Acrobat Reader.
The software helps users unfamiliar with the AutoCAD layer structure.
Perhaps more importantly to contractors and engineers, the Professional edition allows users to create intelligent PDF documents that can be annotated by recipients using Adobe Reader 7.0, which includes intuitive commenting tools that open up automatically in the Reader software when the sender selects that option. This capability allows receiving team members to comment directly on drawings and other files, eliminating the need for printing and distributing plans for mark-up or for follow-up phone conversations or e-mailed notes about the documents.
Acrobat enables easy assembly of documents from any application that can print, including such sources as Microsoft Word, Microsoft Outlook, Microsoft Visio, Excel, CAD programs and engineering diagrams, or off a Website, while ensuring document fidelity and secure communications. All relevant files can then be sent as one PDF file. Acrobat users can easily add headers and footers, watermarks and backgrounds to the Adobe PDF documents.
Also new to the latest version of Acrobat is the ability to include and navigate 3D content embedded within the PDF, which can be very handy in showing and reviewing piping and ductwork design.
Acrobat users can set document permissions and restrictions on who among Adobe Reader recipients has the right to comment on a particular drawing specification or other file and who can change or even print or copy Adobe PDF documents.
The software can convert Microsoft Outlook e-mail messages or entire message folders to searchable PDF files with the touch of one button, for sharing, archiving or including in combined Adobe PDF files. This capability supports easy maintenance and transmission of all client or project correspondence. An e-mail's attachments and hyperlinks are retained automatically, and the compressed PDF files include bookmarks to e-mails sorted by sender, subject and date.
Adobe Acrobat Professional also provides the ability to gather and track project feedback without leaving the program, supporting redlining of text, date-stamping or time-stamping, color-coded sticky notes, and other ways to add opinions and notations. A drop-down menu provides access to various ways or opportunities to comment on a drawing or another document in bubble clouds or with other attention-getters.
Program users can create intelligent, compact, searchable Adobe PDF files from AutoCAD files with a touch of a single button and combine those PDF files with other project documents, so project members who do not have AutoCAD on their computers can still review drawings. The program now supports importing of Acrobat comments back into an AutoCAD file.
The software helps users who may be unfamiliar with the AutoCAD layer structure or unfamiliar with the original AutoCAD file. Adobe 7.0 Professional users can map AutoCAD layers to Adobe PDF layers, rename and reorder layers, lock and create layer sets. It is possible to turn layers on or off in Acrobat 7.0 Professional and in Adobe Reader 7.0, making it easy for reviewers to focus on only the desired data in a complex document.
Acrobat 7.0 Professional users can also select multiple AutoCAD layouts for conversion into a single Adobe file that automatically includes bookmarks from AutoCAD based on the layout names. The software embeds the scale from each view port from AutoCAD when converting the file into an Adobe PDF file. This enables users of the integrated-Acrobat measurement tool to take quick measurements without having to calibrate the scale manually.
When a team member opens a CAD drawing or other large-format complex document, it is possible to set up multiple open windows on the same document, allowing side-by-side viewing of different sections.
Acrobat 7.0 Professional includes many other capabilities that can contribute to a better workflow inside and outside the office.
William and Patti Feldman provide Web content for companies and write for magazines, trade associations, building product manufacturers and other companies on a broad range of topics. They can be reached at [email protected]t.