I am still in shock after trying to take in the new information about Acrobat 8. The striking feature is that Acrobat is now based on Flash as well as PDF. What was Breeze is now Acrobat Connect, a conferencing system with a big advert button in the middle of the PDF oriented menu.
Kevin Lynch, previously with Macromedia, is Adobe vice president of product marketing for the Knowledge Worker Business Unit (KWBU) with responsibility for Acrobat and the Flash Media Server. He recently told Kurt Foss - "One of my visions at Macromedia has always been about the combination of asynchronous and synchronous communication. At Macromedia, with Breeze we were heavily involved with the synchronous real time—including the use of persistent meeting rooms. We also realized people want to get information that isn't always in real time. The document format from Acrobat is a perfect fit for that vision. Now we really have documents and people."
So the Breeze approach - a mix of chat, video and Powerpoint - is seen as closer to people than hard copy documents. Previously Adobe has not really promoted the PDF as slideshow option and the collaboration features have required really expensive server support. Acrobat Professional 7 did allow comments to be enabled in a PDF but effectively this was a secret. Flash now is the top priority for collaboration and it looks as if this will be promoted.
The presentation to the Acrobat Users did advertise a section on JDF but this did not happen. All the features are for knowledge workers - combining documents, exchanging comments, making sure text has been deleted (radaction), especially useful for the legal market.
What strikes me is that print is not really in there as a priority or even a mention in the background. More on this later after a look at a recent 'zeitgeist' article in Image Reports. This looks at how to compare Quark and InDesign, one of the big questions of the day. The picture that comes over of the approach to budgets and resources in pre-press or pre-media is a bit disturbing. Apparently many large users known to the editors of Image Reports are still using Xpress 4, introduced in 1998. Recent Mac operating systems may require new equipment. However "old Mac 9 Macs die eventually so even the most skinflint publishers are finally having to upgrade."
The article has a fairly relaxed acceptance of the current state of pre-press integration with data. "Xpress 7 introduces powerful XML/JDF based collaboration support though it is too early to see if real world users will actually take advantage of it." The option of using Job Jackets to ensure customers create PDF as required is explained but on InDesign there is no mention of the Acrobat features to initiate a JDF file.
Two problems. Pre-press is not rushing into new technology. Maybe if designers want to start up a JDF intent file they will form an orderly queue and make a joint request. Secondly Adobe are not going to promote the JDF aspects in Acrobat if they can better spend their time reaching knowledge workers directly. Maybe knowledge workers need print occasionally and would like to specify their requirements, but this has been allocated to a different marketing budget.
Although I am still in shock, the conclusion I'm reaching is that it is time again for people in print to have a close look at what Adobe is doing. The Breeze idea may not work. After the free trials it looks as if a hosted service could cost more than a cable movie subscription for each user. Google Groups is free. But it could be a sound idea to use video and speech as well as text and graphics.
In the same issue of Image Reports Gee Ranasinha writes about AJAX on the web, based on XML and other strange stuff. People wanting to communicate have many options so print may need to move a bit faster on JDF etc. to be part of the mix.
Which was the better record label, Motown or Atlantic?