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By Paul Nisbet on Wednesday 30th March, 2011 at 9:27am
Adobe have just released new versions of Adobe Reader and Adobe Acrobat Pro. Adobe Reader is the free program that most people use for reading PDF files, such as the Hodder Gibson textbooks that we distribute for pupils who cannot read the paper versions, or the SQA digital exam papers. Acrobat Pro is what we use for creating and editing PDF files.
We will examine the new versions and update our information and web sites in the near future, but for now here are a few important comments.
Adobe Reader X
You can download the new Reader X free from Adobe's web site. It is similar to version 9, except that most of the tools now appear to the right of the screen rather than as toolbars along the top. This makes it looks tidier and less confusing because there aren't loads of mysterious buttons littering your screen, but old pros like us get slightly irritated because it takes more clicks to find things.
The goods news is that PDFaloud and other text-to-speech programs still work with Reader X. You may have to re-install PDFaloud, or manually copy it from the old Reader 9 to the new Reader X folder. (See our FAQs on how to do this.)
Another good development is that you can add highlights and sticky notes to any PDF (not just ones which have been 'reader-enabled') which can be useful for pupils who are studying with PDF textbooks, or for staff who want to set and mark homework using PDF.
We'll review the new version in more detail soon - watch this space.
Adobe Acrobat Pro X
The new Acrobat Pro X has lots of new and refined features, but there are two in particular which make it really useful for those of us who want to make digital learning resources.
New editable, correctable scanning and OCR
With Acrobat Pro 9 you could scan paper resources into PDF and convert into readable text, but you couldn't correct any scanning mistakes. With Pro X, you can! This means that schools can, for example, scan paper prelims to PDF and correct any misrecognised words so that the questions can be spoken out correctly using text-to-speech software. With Pro 9, you would have had to buy another program like FineReader to do your corrections. We have tested the scanning and OCR with Pro X and it's pretty straightforward and easy to use.
Save to Word or text
Another major improvement is the formatting when saving from Acrobat Pro into other formats such as Microsoft Word - Pro X seems to do a much better job of giving you a Word file that looks like the original PDF. Saving to plain text also seems to give more accurate and reliable results.
Taken together, both these features now make Acrobat Pro X a very useful tool for anyone who wants to create accessible resources and Books for All: you can scan paper resources to PDF, check and correct any errors in order to produce a PDF digital version of the book that looks exactly like the original; and you can also save to Word or plain text and then edit it for example to produce a large print version of the book.
Adobe Acrobat Pro X is now available to Scottish schools from Learning and Teaching Scotland for approximately £51 per licence, plus £20 for the program DVD. You can download a 30 day trial version free from Adobe.