Adobe Acrobat Pro XI is perhaps the most ambitious release of the Adobe Acrobat application yet. This latest release integrates the desktop application with Adobe’s recent cloud and mobile initiatives. It’s due to launch October 15, 2012, priced at $199.00 (upgrade) and $449.00 (full version). Acrobat XI Standard is also due to launch at $139.00 (upgrade) and $299.00 (full version).

As a longtime Adobe Acrobat user, I always greet a new Adobe Acrobat release with equal parts dread and interest because the application has evolved so much over its life span. I got access to a pre-release version of Adobe Acrobat Pro XI, spent some time testing it this past week, and found a lot to like about it.

New document features

Adobe Acrobat is best known for preserving documents in a consistent and secure format. Fast-forward to today, Adobe Acrobat is a standard document format with many users who need edit and security access to their PDFs. Acrobat Pro XI adds an improved Edit Text and Images tool. As a long time Acrobat user who has had to pull apart PDFs in my time, I found the new editing features in Acrobat Pro XI quite compelling. This tool alone is worth the upgrade if your job involves working with many PDFs and their source documents cannot be found. Figure A shows the Edit Text and Images tool.

Figure A

Edit Text and Images Tool

Another new feature that should prove helpful is the capability to convert PDF versions of PowerPoint slides to their original format for editing. As a contract technical writer, there have been countless times that the original document or slide deck was nowhere to be found and the PDF was it. The conversion from PDF back to PowerPoint is especially smooth because it recreates some of the vector images and you have control over the original slide layout again.

Acrobat security has also seen some upgrades in this new version with Acrobat XI sporting advanced security capabilities such as digital certificates and FIPS 140 support.

There is also long overdue support for Office 365/SharePoint collaboration directly from within the application, which is going to be nice for organizations that use these services for storing their PDF documents.

Acrobat Pro XI enters the cloud and goes mobile

Adobe as a technology company sometimes treads very close to the wanting to be “everything to everybody” cliff that can smother a product company. However, they’ve done a fine job of integrating their legacy Adobe Acrobat solution with their newer cloud offerings. If PDF files serve as a foundation of your organization’s internal workflows Adobe FormsCentral and EchoSign are well integrated into Acrobat Pro XI and easy to use with only a minor learning curve for each product.

If you aren’t familiar with it is Adobe’s online eForms tool, Adobe FormsCentral, a free trial is available when purchasing Acrobat XI. It has been a separate cloud service for a while but now integrates directly with Acrobat XI. If you’ve created forms in previous versions of Adobe Acrobat, you are going to find creating form in FormsCentral to be full of drag and drop goodness with easy to follow templates. It’s a superior option to creating forms over the usual way in Acrobat. The default installation of Adobe Acrobat Pro XI installs an Adobe FormsCentral desktop application as shown in Figure B.

Figure B

Adobe FormsCentral on your Windows Desktop

EchoSign is an electronic signature solution and a recent Adobe acquisition, which also now fully integrates with Adobe Acrobat XI. A free trial is available when purchasing Acrobat XI. A Sign option is now prominently displayed in the right side menu in Adobe Acrobat Pro and the Reader. Figure C shows the I Need to Sign Option open in Acrobat Pro XI.

Figure C

Adobe EchoSign is now integrated directly into Acrobat Pro XI

The new Adobe Acrobat XI Reader is going to have a consistent user experience across PCs and mobile devices with tablet and smartphone users able to fully interact with forms directly from their devices at any stage of the workflow process.

Acrobat and the IT department

Adobe Acrobat is now a foundational tool in many businesses because of its expanding uses. Therefore, with Adobe Acrobat Pro XI, Adobe is including deployment and maintenance tools to aid in the configuration and installation of Adobe Acrobat Pro across the enterprise. Another goody that Adobe Acrobat XI includes for the IT department is the capability to deliver it as a virtual application either through Citrix XenApp or Microsoft App-V.

Acrobat Pro XI, mobility, and the cloud

To stay relevant, Adobe has to keep their flagship Acrobat product relevant to the way enterprises work today and this latest release aims to keep Acrobat in position. Enterprises who rely heavily on workflow and collaboration should find features in Acrobat Pro XI to help them streamline and secure document editing and workflow across their organization.

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