Adobe announced Sept. 18 Acrobat 8, which will ship some time in November. A free trial download will be available here when it ships, so early adopters wanting to test-drive the new version should keep their eye on that page.
Industry watchers keeping tabs on the San Jose, Calif., company will note that it took a few extra months to get this version out compared with previous versions.
Blame the lengthy development cycle on Adobes merger with Macromedia; not only did that involve incorporating Macromedia technology such as Flash and Breeze into Acrobat and PDF, but also integrating Adobes engineering and management staff.
The most significant addition to Acrobat is direct hooks to Acrobat Connect, a Web-service version of the former Macromedia Breeze software (Acrobat Connect Pro is an upgrade to Breeze—more on that below). Almost as significant is new forms functionality that users have been demanding for several years, redaction tools, and a new way to bundle and send documents called a "PDF package."
Acrobat Connect adds live chat, a virtual whiteboard and other tools in a Flash-based Web conference, taking the collaborative efforts of PDF review and commenting and adding a live element. A "start meeting" button in Acrobat kicks off a conference, and the leader can send invites to meeting-goers via e-mail and instant messaging. Adobe hosts the conference, which can include up to 15 people, for a flat monthly ($39) or yearly rate ($395).
Connect Pro users pay a licensing fee depending on the size of the installation. It adds features like larger capacity for bigger groups, audience polling, customized layouts, voice interaction via VOIP (voice over IP) and multiple meeting rooms.