by August 3, 2004 0 comments

The PDF (Portable Document Format) format has succeeded in becoming a de facto standard for the interchange of documents in publishing, office environment and increasingly on the Internet. The reasons for this are many. One, which is also the most well known, is that Acrobat Reader is available for free, so anybody can read it. Two, some of the PDF standards are open for public, so many free PDF creator programs have been created. Three, of course, is security. You can convert just about any document to PDF, and the reader won’t be able to make any changes to it. This makes it a great format for distributing documents to the public. Finally, if there is a business need for which you’re willing to pay, then you can buy the complete Acrobat suite from Adobe and use it for collaboration. We’ll talk about this collaboration functionality.

Applies to: Design and publishing houses and
engineering drawing companies
Configure Acrobat to streamline communication and reduce paperwork

Acrobat 6 comes with a number of collaborative features such as e-mail-based review, sharing documents over the network or using WebDav, Web discussions, database document sharing and review tracker that helps in sharing, online editing and reviewing of documents. Let us consider a scenario where an architect designs the blueprint of a structure and has to send it to his seniors, clients and colleagues at the same time for approval. In a normal case the architect would place the blueprint on the organization’s network, from where the blueprint would be picked up by his seniors and colleagues and then edited. Then, a separate copy would be sent to the client that could either be a printed copy or a soft copy to be mailed. This method has its set of drawbacks-it is time consuming as all people concerned cannot incorporate their changes simultaneously and also original document is lost as everybody incorporates the changes in the original document. You can use Acrobat to convert a blueprint or floor plan to PDF and send it for comments to everybody at the same time, without taking even a single printout. Others can then review, incorporate the changes, add their comments and send it back. Then it’s up to you to consider those comments and incorporate the changes. 

Acrobat 6 tracks the information and progress, and utilizes your e-mail server for updates and reminders. You can even keep track of who sent what comments and when. The best part is that there is only a single copy of the document and the revisions, comments and updates are just text messages that refer to the original document. This way the original document is also kept intact incase somebody wants to refer to it.

E-mail-based reviews are used in a scenario where the document has to be sent to a reviewer who is sitting in a remote location and the creator and reviewer of the document are not connected by a network. The document is converted to a PDF format and sent to the reviewer via e-mail, and the reviewer adds his comments and sends it back. 

Here’s how to go about sending an e-mail review in Acrobat 6.0.

n Convert the document you want to send for review into PDF format.

n On the main Acrobat toolbar, click on ‘Review and Comment’ and then on ‘Send for email by review’. 

n Now, you will be prompted to give your e-mail address. Once you enter it, a mail message will be created containing some default text requesting the receiver to review the document, with a copy of your document as an attachment. 

n Just add the addresses of the recipients and send the mail using you e-mail application. 

You can also track or monitor the ongoing review process by clicking on ‘Review Tracker’ under the ‘Review and Comment’ button on the main toolbar. This way you can keep a check on who is reviewing the document currently and who is not. If somebody does not look at the document, then you can send reminders over mail.

One thing to be kept in mind is that all the other participants in the e-mail-based review process must also be using Acrobat 6 in order to participate. Here’s how to participate in an e-mail based review.

n If you receive a file for review, all you have to do is download the attachment that is then opened using Acrobat 6. 

n Now you can add your comment or feedback to the document using the comment tools in Acrobat.

n When you are done with adding your comments, click on the ‘Send Comments’. The comments will be sent back to the initiator of the review via e-mail.

n Now the task that the author faces is to integrate the comments sent by the participants with the original document. This is easy as all he has to do is double click on the attachment in the mail and the comments will be automatically integrated with the original document. This way the author can view the comments along with the document.

While reviewing a document or drawing, you can add notes, highlight text, draw and even add shapes to it

The other way of collaborating is browser-based review. Here’s how to setup your document for a browser-based review.

n Convert your document to PDF.

n Before uploading your document, choose ‘Preferences’ from the Edit menu.

n A new window will open where you will have to select the server type in the Reviewing panel. Choices available are
database, network folder, Web discussion and WebDav. Select Network Folder and click on OK.

n Finally click on ‘Upload for browser-based review’ under ‘Review and Comment’ in the toolbar and specify the network location where you want the document to be placed.

In this case instead of the whole document, only a notification will be sent to all participants. The mail will contain a path to where the document is kept. After the reviewer has added comments to the document, they are automatically integrated with the original document kept on the network. The author can now pick up the document from the same path and view it along 
with the comments added by  the reviewer.

Ankit Kawatra

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