Acrobat is the name given to a revolutionary piece of software by American firm Adobe. In essence, this program enables people to create and view files on all computer systems, from PCs and Macs through to tablets and smartphones. This is especially important given the wide variety of operating systems currently in use, including Windows, iOS, Android, Linux and BlackBerry. None of these systems are fully compatible with each other, but all of them will recognise and open Adobe’s Portable Document Format files – better known as PDFs.
PDFs are deceptively simple files that typically comprise images, texts and hyperlinks. Their small size allows for fairly swift downloading, and the use of clear, simple fonts enables them to be displayed on pretty much any device. The software used to make or read a PDF file is called Acrobat, and its global influence makes it an ideal subject for academic studies, with courses in Acrobat widely available.
The PDF is everywhere
PDF files have revolutionised document transfers, and their universal compatibility makes them hugely popular with publishers. When a newspaper or magazine receives an advert for publication, it is usually in a high-resolution (high-quality) PDF format, while this is also a default format for draft or proof copies of documents, before they go to print. They are also ubiquitous online, where magazines and newsletters can typically be downloaded as PDF files. Other common applications include downloadable menus, brochures, or any files that might otherwise be presented as Microsoft Office documents (Word, Excel and even PowerPoint files can all be converted into PDFs).
Unlike many computer software packages, Acrobat has been designed for ease of use and simplicity at all times. In many respects, it is an entry-level desktop publishing package, with most of the usual complexity stripped out in favour of a basic text-and-images approach. Even people who get nervous just sitting down in front of a computer will find Acrobat easy to use, which makes a course in Adobe Acrobat a very tempting proposition for anyone wishing to improve their computing know-how.
What does an Acrobat course entail?
Obviously, each academic institution will have its own teaching methods and syllabus materials, but in general, an Acrobat course should teach students how to create, edit and convert PDF files. Courses will typically cover each of the steps involved in combining different documents into a single PDF, customising a file with watermarks, removing duplicate data and adding comments.
Given the fact that Adobe has something of a monopoly on universal documentation, taking an Acrobat course will instil students with knowledge that will be useful in pretty much any career imaginable. From communications and media firms to science and engineering companies, the need to share data is paramount, so a working knowledge of Adobe Acrobat will be equally valuable to teachers, technicians or travel agents.
Read all about it
Many people make the mistake of assuming that if their computer can open PDF files, they have Acrobat software, when they probably just have a viewing program called Acrobat Reader. The main Acrobat package has far greater functionality than Reader, which is limited to basic tasks like printing, rotating, copying and (in recent versions) reading text out loud.
A world without Acrobat
Imagine for a minute that there was no universal format for online documents. Then imagine you wanted to view a price list for a spa, or send someone an online restaurant menu. Unless the information was listed on a website page, you might end up sending one type of file to someone with a completely different suite of programs, thereby preventing them from being able to read it. In reality, Acrobat Reader is a standard feature on computers, tablets and smartphones, and it is freely available on other media as well.
Did you know?
· Although PDF has become a well-known and commonly-used document format, when it was first launched in the early 1990s, it faced numerous competitors. As these gradually fell by the wayside, Adobe’s product became the industry standard.
· Once upon a time, computer programs like Acrobat had to be purchased on a CD or floppy disc, and then installed onto a user’s computer. Now, thanks to rapid developments in cloud computing, Acrobat is accessed entirely online.
· Often when a computer software company updates or revises its products, older formats become obsolete and can’t be used any more. However, an original 1993 PDF file should still open in the latest version of Adobe Acrobat.
· From simple beginnings, Acrobat has expanded its functionality. Today, users can add electronic signatures to PDFs, redact sensitive information, incorporate comments, and improve a file’s accessibility for people with disabilities like visual impairment.
· Its success has been so great that PDF has become an International Standard, known as ISO 32000-1:2008. It is recognised all over the world as a universal method of data sharing between different (and usually incompatible) computer systems.
By Neil Cumins