Adobe Acrobat is a family of computer programs developed by Adobe Systems, designed to view, create, manipulate and manage files in Adobe's Portable Document Format (PDF). Some software in the family is commercial, and some is freeware. Adobe Reader (formerly Acrobat Reader) is available as a no-charge download from Adobe's web site, and allows the viewing and printing of PDF files. Acrobat and Reader are widely used as a way to present information with a fixed layout similar to a paper publication.
Since the early 1990s, the Acrobat product had several competitors who each used their own document formats, such as:
By the late 1990s PDF had become the de facto standard, and the others had become largely historical footnotes. This in turn has led to many more competitors for Adobe Acrobat, providing both free and commercial programs that create or manipulate PDF, such as Ghostscript, Foxit, and Nitro PDF. Adobe also allows Acrobat plug-ins to be developed by third parties, which can add extra functions within the Acrobat program.
Adobe has changed the names of the products in the Acrobat family regularly, also splitting-up, joining, or discontinuing products. Between version 3 and 5, Standard and Professional versions were one product simply called Adobe Acrobat.
, the current main members of the Adobe Acrobat family are:
- Adobe Reader 9
- Adobe Acrobat 9
- Adobe Acrobat 9 Standard
- Adobe Acrobat 9 Pro
- Adobe Acrobat 9 Pro Extended (includes Adobe Presenter)
- A growing collection of free web services launched via the Acrobat.com service such as Adobe Buzzword, Connect Now, Create PDF, and Share.
Adobe has never created a product called either Adobe Writer or Acrobat Writer, although they used to include a printer driver called PDFWriter, which is unrelated.
for Macintosh was originally released 15 June 1993, later for DOS and Windows 3.1. This was not available in single copies and was not initially free. After a while the IRS
purchased a right to distribute Reader 1.0, effectively making it seem free to those who obtained it that way:
- PDF version 1.0 supported.
- Acrobat Exchange 1.0 (included PDFWriter printer driver and Acrobat Exchange application).
- Acrobat Distiller 1.0. Created a PDF from PostScript (no printer driver at this stage).
Acrobat 2.0 for Windows and Macintosh was first released September 1994. It is now available free of charge:
- PDF version 1.1 (and prior) supported.
- Acrobat Exchange 2.0, package as 1.0.
- Acrobat Professional 2.0, which included the contents of Acrobat Exchange, plus Distiller.
- There were 2.1 updates.
- Acrobat Catalog was introduced, using Verity, Inc. technology to create searchable indexes to PDF files. Searching required a special version of Acrobat Reader or Acrobat Exchange.
Acrobat 3.0 was released 1996. The first to display PDF files in-browser, and the first to support form filling:
- PDF version 1.2 (and prior) supported.
- A free Reader to allow searching was made available, but was not part of the default download.
- Acrobat 3.0: replaced Acrobat Professional 2.1. Included Acrobat Catalog, and a Distiller printer driver.
- First release with support for Windows 95 and later. Last release with support for Windows 3.1.
Acrobat 4.0 was released April 1999:
- PDF version 1.3 (and prior) supported. Added support for PKI and digital signatures via plug-ins.
- Acrobat 4.0.
- Updates to 4.05.
- Introduced Distiller Server 4.0, identical to the regular Distiller but with a multi-user license (Windows, Linux, Solaris).
- Acrobat Business Tools 4.0: a limited version of Acrobat.
Acrobat 5.0 was released May 2001:
- PDF version 1.4 (and prior) supported.
- Acrobat 5.0. PDFWriter removed from Macintosh application
- Updates to 5.0.5. Acrobat 5.0.5 was the first to be able to run native in Mac OS X, but also ran in Mac OS 9.
- Distiller Server 5.0.
- Acrobat Approval 5.0: a limited version of Acrobat, mainly sold to people who wanted to digitally sign or save fill in forms.
- Acrobat Reader 5.1: supported the Adobe LiveCycle Reader Extensions (e.g. forms saving) (which was then under a different name).
Acrobat 6.0 was released April 2003. No Linux or Unix versions were released:
- PDF version 1.5 (and prior) supported. Added support for PKI via Microsoft Windows CryptoAPI without plug-in.
- Acrobat Professional 6.0: replacement for Acrobat 5.0, with new features. Distiller printer driver renamed Adobe PDF. PDFWriter now gone for good. New version of Catalog integrated and not compatible with earlier products for searching.
- Acrobat Standard 6.0: limited version of Acrobat Professional, including Distiller but lacking features including Catalog, form design, prepress support.
- Updates to 6.0.1, 6.0.2, 6.0.3, 6.0.4, 6.0.5 and 6.0.6
- Dropped support for Windows 95 and Windows 98 First Edition. Acrobat Standard was for Windows 98 Second Edition, Me, NT 4.0 SP6, 2000 SP2, and XP only. The professional version dropped support for Windows 98 SE and ME. Version 6.0 also dropped support for Mac OS 9 and earlier. It was the first release for Mac OS X.
- Distiller Server 6.0.
- Acrobat Elements 6.0: PDF creation only, aimed at the corporate market (minimum 1000 licenses, Windows only)
- Acrobat Elements Server 6.0: client/server version of Acrobat Elements
- Technology for "Reader enabling", allowing Reader to save, sign or annotate PDF files if the licensee had enabled the files.
Adobe Acrobat 7.0 was released January 2005:
- Updates to 7.0.1, 7.0.2, 7.0.3, 7.0.5, 7.0.7, 7.0.8, 7.0.9 and 7.1.0.
- Dropped support for Windows 98 Second Edition and Windows Me.
- PDF version 1.6 (and prior) supported. Added support for Adobe Policy Server rights management.
- Acrobat Professional 7.0: now included Adobe LiveCycle Designer 7.0 (Windows only) for XML form design (different and incompatible with previous form support)—ability to embed 3D object information from the .u3d Universal 3D format. First version to include controversial mandatory product activation.
- Acrobat Standard 7.0
- Acrobat Elements 7.0 (now minimum 100 licenses)
- Acrobat 3D (Windows only): included all of the functionality of Acrobat Professional 7.0 as well as updated support for embedded 3D, tools for capturing 3D content from OpenGL applications, and the Adobe Acrobat 3D Toolkit for converting CAD documents to PDF objects. Also included is a version of the capture tool for installation on Unix.
- Windows NT 4.0 SP6, 2000 SP2, XP, Mac OS X only for Acrobat. Although Linux, Solaris (SPARC only), HP-UX and AIX versions of Adobe Reader have been released.
- Other LiveCycle products include LiveCycle Barcoded Forms, LiveCycle Document Security, LiveCycle Reader Extensions (previously Document Server for Reader Extensions and other names), LiveCycle Forms (previously Form Server), LiveCycle Form Manager, LiveCycle Policy Server and LiveCycle Workflow. Some of these are server solutions intended for large businesses. Only LiveCycle Designer is bundled with Acrobat Professional.
Adobe Acrobat 8.0 was released November 2006:
- PDF version 1.7 (and prior) supported.
- Acrobat 8 Elements (was withdrawn before its expected release in mid-2007)
- Acrobat 8 Standard (Windows only; Macintosh version not produced)
- Acrobat 8 Professional
- Acrobat 3D Version 8 (released May 31). Ability to produce embedded PRC data: highly compressed format for geometry and graphics (requires Reader 8.1 to display). Most innovative feature: Product Manufacturing Information, supported for many different CAD formats.
- Acrobat Connect (new in Acrobat family, formerly Macromedia Breeze): online personal meeting rooms to collaborate in real time for up to 15 participants.
- Acrobat Connect Professional (new in Acrobat family, formerly Macromedia Breeze): Scalable, interactive web conferencing and multiple personal meeting rooms for everyone across an enterprise.
- Mac OS X versions are Universal binary and only run on Mac OS X 10.4 or greater.
- On June 2007, an update version 8.1 for Acrobat 8 Professional and Adobe Reader 8 was released in order to support Microsoft Office 2007, Windows Vista, and 64-bit Windows Operating Systems.
- September 2007, Reader 8.1.1 released for Linux and Solaris(SPARC) users.
Adobe Acrobat 9.0 was released July 2008:
- Product Family includes: Acrobat Standard 9, Acrobat Pro 9, Acrobat Pro Extended 9
- PDF version 1.7 (and prior) supported.
- Extended Version includes Adobe Presenter and Adobe LiveCycle Designer ES
- Enable real-time collaboration of PDFs with synchronized document views and chat
- Improved Web Capture for capturing entire web pages or just some parts into PDF
- Integration with acrobat.com to enable storage and sharing of PDF files
- Personalize a PDF Portfolio with customizable templates for navigation and branding
- Compare and highlight the differences between two versions of a PDF document
- Insert FLV (Flash) or H.264 video for direct playback in Adobe Acrobat® and Adobe Reader
- Convert a variety of video formats to FLV for playback in PDF
- Create PDF maps by importing geospatial files that retain metadata and coordinates
- Adobe Reader 9 drops support for Adobe Reader Extensions 5 and 6 which permit Adobe Reader client software to save changes to filled-in forms in PDFs. Adobe Reader Extensions 6.1 and newer are still supported. Legacy PDFs will still be viewable, however they will open with the warning "This document enables Reader capabilities that are no longer enabled in this Reader version."
Internationalization and localization
Adobe Acrobat is available in the following languages: Arabic, Chinese Simplified, Chinese Traditional, Czech, Danish, Dutch, English, Finnish, French, German, Greek, Hebrew, Hungarian, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Norwegian, Polish, Portuguese, Romanian, Russian, Spanish, Swedish, Turkish, Ukrainian. Arabic, Nepali, Hebrew and Greek versions available from WinSoft, Adobe Systems
' internationalization and localization
Specific features for Arabic and Hebrew languages
The Arabic and Hebrew versions are specifically developed for these specific languages, which are normally written right-to-left
. These versions come with special TouchUp properties to handle digits, ligatures option and paragraph direction in right-to-left Middle Eastern scripts such as Arabic, Hebrew and Farsi, as well as standard left-to-right Indian scripts such as Hindi, Sanskrit, and Gujarati. The Web Capture feature can convert single web pages or entire web sites into PDF files, while preserving the content's original text encoding. Acrobat can also copy Hebrew and Arabic text to the system clipboard
in its original encoding; if the target application also supports the text encoding, then the text will appear in the correct script.
A number of people consider the software to be too slow to load and use, so they have developed workaround solutions to speed up the software. The application has been improved by Adobe as the latest version of the software does load quicker; Adobe claims that Adobe Reader 7 users can "Open and save PDF files faster than ever" as version 7.0 launches "up to 50% faster than version 6.0". This works by installing a QuickStart program which runs every time the computer is turned on, and which loads parts of Reader into memory. This can improve the loading speed of Reader, but also uses memory resources on the computer and causes longer system start-up times.
Many have also noted poor behavior in the Internet Explorer and Mozilla Firefox Acrobat plug-ins. The plug-ins do not support full asynchronous loading, thus causing browsers to appear to "lock up" until the document has been fully downloaded. In addition, the plug-ins apparently also fail to terminate when a document is closed, thereby leaving behind various CPU-intensive application threads that remain running until the Windows session is ended.