With the launch of Acrobat Online (acrobat.com), Adobe officially entered the web office space that is currently dominated by companies like Google, Zoho and to some extent Microsoft (Office Live Workspace).
Acrobat.com is a free online suite of several useful applications and is targeted towards individuals and small businesses. Let’s look at each of the Acrobat.com components in more detail and their relative pros & cons.
Adobe Buzzword (word processor) – You may have written documents in your web browser using Google Docs but Adobe’s Buzzword application is a class apart. The interface is extremely intuitive and beautiful; you can place images anywhere in the document and surrounding text automatically flows around the images.
Buzzword also lets you work on the same document with multiple authors and it tracks the current status of each author – whether he or she is editing the document or just reading the document.
Adobe ConnectNow – This is a screen sharing application that lets you conduct virtual meetings or training sessions with remote members of the team from the comfort of your computer – that means no traffic jams and travel costs.
Adobe ConnectNow works like this – you get a unique web address that you can email to other members of the team (3 is the limit per meeting). Once your remote team logs in using their own computer, you can start a screen sharing session and whatever is on your screen will get displayed on everyone else’s screen. This is also useful if you want to deliver a PowerPoint presentation on the web.
The service support voice chat and video conferencing so you each of you can see each other as well provided you have a web cam. The available whiteboard can be used to annotate important discussions and the drawings can also be saved for later reference.
Adobe MyFiles – This is like an online hard drive where you can store documents and images. Microsoft offers something similar in the form of Windows Live SkyDrive and Google is also rumoured to be working on a similar solution though we don’t have details.
With Adobe MyFiles, you get 5 GB of free storage space and files stored inside MyFiles can be shared with anyone in the world who has an email address. You may want to use this service for sending large email attachments – just upload the file to Adobe MyFiles and send the link via email. The downside is that you cannot upload audio or video files so don’t cancel that SkyDrive account yet.
CreatePDF – As the name suggests, this service lets you convert documents and images to PDF files in the browser but this one got me least excited for one simple reason – you can only convert 5 documents / images to PDF and then this features gets disabled. Am not sure why Adobe decided to put this limit when there are so many web services (e.g., Zamzar, Google Docs) that let you make unlimited conversions.
To get started, all you need is a web browser with Flash and a free Adobe ID at acrobat.com. Supports Firefox and IE on Windows