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Adobe Acrobat Pro XI review

Verdict

New cloud-based features and efficiency improvements make this an essential upgrade

Review Date: 8 Oct 2012

Reviewed By: Tom Arah

Price when reviewed: £315 (£378 inc VAT)

Buy it now for: £68
(see more store prices)

Overall Rating
5 stars out of 6

Features & Design
5 stars out of 6

Value for Money
5 stars out of 6

Ease of Use
4 stars out of 6

Most people know Acrobat through the free Adobe Reader application that lets you view PDFs across all major computing platforms. And with the latest reader offering advanced capabilities such as form filling, document signing and commenting, you might wonder what else the new Acrobat XI Pro offers to justify its hefty price tag.

The key difference between Reader and Pro (and the cheaper, £255 Acrobat Standard) is the ability to create PDFs. Between the standalone Distiller, the universal print driver, the ability to open and convert a wide range of files (including 3D and CAD), the built-in scanning and OCR capabilities and its range of integrated Office add-ons, which now offer improved content protection control, Acrobat XI Pro has all the bases covered.

The new features in this version start with a simpler, more powerful set of tools for combining files into a single PDF, including the option to load files directly from cloud providers such as SharePoint, Office 365 and Adobe’s own Acrobat.com. In Acrobat X, the focus was on producing high-impact, interactive “PDF portfolios”. With Flash no longer flavour of the month, however, this capability has been downplayed.

Adobe Acrobat Pro XI - EchoSign

Form handling also sees a host of major improvements. Previously, you had to use the intimidating LiveCycle Designer to create forms, but you can now create forms from scratch or by customising templates using the friendlier FormsCentral. To benefit from this you have to sign up for Adobe’s online FormsCentral service, which offers a basic subscription for free, and this allows forms to be published as both distributed PDFs and centralised web forms, with responses automatically collected and accessible from the browser.

That’s not, though. Using the new Sign panel, typed, hand-drawn, image-based or certificate-based digital signatures can be quickly added to forms, and with the “Get others to sign” tab PDFs can be uploaded to EchoSign (offering free and paid subscriptions) for others to sign. After online signing, which doesn’t require an account, PDF copies are automatically emailed to relevant parties, and a backup copy stored centrally in your EchoSign account. Previously, getting documents and contracts printed, distributed, signed and agreed could take weeks; now it takes minutes.

By its nature, PDF is a fixed document format, but that doesn’t mean it has to be the end of the workflow as Acrobat’s extensive commenting and review capabilities demonstrate. Now, Acrobat XI Pro goes a stage further and lets you edit existing PDFs using the new Edit Text and Images tool. Particularly impressive is the way that Acrobat XI Pro can reflow paragraph text as you edit, although this does depend on the quality of the original PDF creator and the complexity of the layout.

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User comments

"Particularly impressive is the way that Acrobat XI Pro can reflow paragraph text as you edit"

Infix has had that facility for years.

Will Acrobat itself be any more stable though?

By Alfresco on 8 Oct 2012

Office

How does it stack up against simply creating a word document and then saving as a pdf?

By rhythm on 9 Oct 2012

Adobe rip-off

Adobe Acrobat Pro XI is listed as £378 ex VAT (not inc VAT as listed in this review) on their website. That's $605.28 in US dollars.

If you were in the USA they'd only charge you $449.00 though.

I'm generally staying clear of Adobe products due to their international pricing rip-off.

I was very excited to see their CloudSuite pricing at $49.99/month, and I was all set to buy...but being in mainland Europe I need to pay in Euros...€59.03/month ($76.59/month).

A markup of over 50% which cannot be at all justified. Of course, I could always buy it from a UK address for "only" £46.88/month ($75.08/month)...

Even taking "sales tax" or VAT into account (and of course there are no "import taxes" for a download service), these are extortionate markups, and I refuse to buy their products on principle because of this blatent gouging.

By ThatGuyCalledPete on 9 Oct 2012

@Alfresco Yes, others have tried to make PDF more editable before but when Adobe adds a feature it does tend to do it right and of course it knows the format better than anyone. Even so PDF should still primarily be seen as a fixed format - that's the point of it.

@rhythm With saving to PDF now pretty much free and ubiquitous, Adobe has had to concentrate on adding value hence all the supporting cloud services. The article discusses what this involves but if all you're wanting to do is create a PDF and email it to someone then Acrobat XI Pro is way over the top.

@Pete - couldn't agree more. The Creative Cloud pricing is particularly annoying as any cloud-delivered service should be the same for everyone. Presumably the ridiculous premium is for UK spelling.

By TomArah on 11 Oct 2012

Retina display

They need to make Acrobat work with the retina display lie Preview does - that is the improvement I wanted.

By Duncanbaines on 14 Oct 2012

Web conversion?

I'm looking for a tool to export (scrape) sections of a corporate web site and save the result to a single PDF, ideally with links etc. converted.

The Adobe ads talk about converting a web "page" (which isn't hard), but it's much less clear whether the tool can handle whole page sets and all the assets (images etc.) that go to make them up.

Your review doesn't cover this. Is it a feature of Acrobat, of do I need to look elsewhere (and if so some hints would be great!)

By incans on 25 Oct 2012

Form creation is a downgrade from previouse version!!

Are you serious with this review??!?! The only difference between other PDF creation tools and Adobe's was the ability to create top notch PDF forms. Well if you are serious about PDF forms then you should not upgrade to version XI. Here's why; In previous version you had a wonderful tool named LifeCycle Designer integrated in the package. And BTW "intimidating" LiveCycle DEsigner??? Again, are you serious?? This is the most professional and easy to use tool for creating forms on earth. So if you wanted to do some really neat and feature reach forms you could do that. You could use script to enhance your form to make it adaptable to every imaginable need. Yo could have branching, conditional jumps, conditional hiding part of a form etc. You could connect to a database etc. etc. etc. Not to mention the choice of how to distribute your form. Now with the new XI (11) version of the Acrobat package most useful features are gone in favor of FormsCentral. Now you can forget about adding scripts in your PDF forms. Although Adobe advertise the possibility of having conditional execution, exporting to web as a "web form" etc. but this is true (partially) only if you subscribe to the PAYED version of their FormsCentral.
Basically what Adobe did with this release was offering you the same "Big Mac menu" but without a meat. Although if you want a meat you can buy it separately. And if you want french-fries you have to pay extra. Now you get only the french-fries bag with a coupon saying: "To get french-fries (aka the same functionality as before) you have to open an free account on formscentral.adobe.com and pay 11€ /month". O, and as a free user you can make ONE form and have 50 lucky persons filling that form.

Oh yeah there is still LiveCycle Designer available but sold separately, ...well as a part of Adobe's LiveCycle Enterprise Suite. Don't ask about price!!

By FormPro on 6 Nov 2012

No Steve Jobs' in Adobe's Marketing Dept.

I am frankly starting to be a bit scared at the incompetence of Adobe's marketing. Why are there so many new features only on Creative Cloud products not available on the boxed ones? Why do they dump Flash and not let me upgrade the 4.6 full licence Flash Builder Premium that I got with CS5.5 to 4.7 because it was not bought as a 'point' product. What the hell is a point product?? Why are they taking a steaming dump on their loyal customers?

By Alperian on 16 Jan 2013

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