Adobe Systems is expected to deliver the next version of its Acrobat platform under the name Adobe 9 in the summer of 2008, and details of the features in the new version have begun to surface, according to sources.
Adobe Acrobat is a platform for viewing, creating, manipulating and managing files in Adobe's PDF format.
The company will offer only one version of Adobe Acrobat 9 for Mac users, a Professional version, sources said. The company is discontinuing the Standard version on the Mac with the next release. However, Windows users will still have the option of choosing the Standard or Professional version of the product.
Moreover, users acquire Acrobat to create forms that can be completed electronically by users. That capability was previously available only in Acrobat Professional. But with Acrobat 9, this capability also will be in the Standard version, sources said
Adobe also has been marketing a stand-alone version of Acrobat called Acrobat 3D, which is targeted at the architectural, engineering and CAD/CAM/CAE market.
Acrobat 3D enables users to take three-dimensional designs and embed them in PDF files. For Acrobat 9, Adobe is adding that Acrobat 3D technology to the professional version of the upcoming release, sources said.
In addition, Adobe is adding a forms routing capability for data collection in Acrobat 9, according to sources. Users can work with Acrobat for forms creation and Adobe will provide a hosted service where users can route data.
A similar service is available from a company called FormRouter, which says its hosted service lowers costs, saves time and simplifies the deployment of online forms. With the FormRouter service using Adobe Acrobat 8, form designers can enable Adobe Reader users to participate in document reviews, digitally sign documents, and fill in and save PDF forms.
Adobe is also continuing to expand its support for real-time document markup. Acrobat 9 enables users to, in real time, review and mark up documents in a shared space, sources said. This is essentially technology from Adobe Connect, which was formerly a product called Breeze from Macromedia, which Adobe acquired in 2005.
In addition to these new features and changes to the product, which are among the bigger features in new release, according to sources, Adobe also has made a number of user interface revisions and expanded capabilities for graphics users.
Acrobat 9 represents the next major release of the Acrobat technology since Acrobat 8 was released in November 2006.