Wednesday, November 30, 2016

The Case for Still Using the Deprecated Features in Acrobat, Part 1: The Properties Toolbar

When Adobe released Acrobat DC, it wasn't just a program upgrade; it was a complete overhaul. The name of the program remained the same, as did many of its functionalities, but the interface is nearly completely different.

Most of the original functions still remain, but they are dressed up with new icons and often, new locations. But interestingly, some of the tools now seemingly have two different identities: the new and shiny, and the older and deprecated. In today's post I want to explain the difference between the Properties Toolbar and the several of the Quick Tools.

Here I have selected a sticky note. It is a plain, run-of-the-mill sticky note, with the default color and icon. I've displayed the old Properties Toolbar by pressing Ctrl/Cmd + E.

I have my choice of colors, icons, and opacity. It has everything I need in order to modify the properties of the sticky note. Sadly, for several years now, this toolbar can no longer be docked. From what I understand, it has been deprecated, and Adobe is no longer improving it.

I miss the ability to dock the Properties toolbar, and I suspect that many others did as well, because in Acrobat DC, Adobe decided to change the tools so that the color choices would be available as part of the Quick Tools. What's interesting is that the default yellow color is not not of the choices in the Color Picker, which is why none of the colors are sleeted. You'll know when the color is selected because it will have a big checkmark inside of the color square.

Thankfully, the opacity is available within the Color Picker. But the icon choices are nowhere to be found! So if you want to change the icon, you'll still need to use either:
  • The Properties toolbar (Ctrl/Cmd + E) or
  • or the Properties dialog box (choose "Properties" from the comment contextual menu)

Choosing "Properties" or clicking on the "More... button on the Properties Toolbar will both bring up the Properties dialog box. The options available within the Properties dialog box will vary, depending upon which type of annotation (comment) is used.

Sticky Note Properties
Lines and drawing markups have line thicknesses available, as well as both fill and stroke colors. Interestingly, the color fields are and "Color" and "Fill Color." So Acrobat views what we commonly know as the stroke color to be the main color. I wrote an entire article about that, and why I find it frustrating: Acrobat Rectangle Tool: Why Do You Disappoint Me So?

Line Properties
Most of the Properties dialog boxes are pretty straightforward, without too many options.
Underline Properties 
Pencil Mark Properties
But once you start dealing with text, the Properties dialog box and the Text Properties tool get more complicated. What's interesting is that the old Properties toolbar gives you WAY more options than the newfangled Text Comment Properties. In the new tool, gone are the options for bold, italic, subscript, and superscript. However, there is now a choice for increasing the line spacing, which is nice. I don't know that I'd ever use it, though. I use the text comments for filling out forms, rather than for typing paragraphs of text. Another interesting thing to note is that the Text Properties no longer works with the old Properties toolbar. However, the pop-up text properties will still work with the old Properties toolbar.

Newfangled Text Comment Properties
Pop-Up Text Properties - Properties Toolbar
While I really like the new user interface of the Color Picker, Text Properties, and Line Thickness Tools, as well as how they be added to the Quick Tools, I still usually default to using the old Properties toolbar, because it offers more options: sticky note icons, start and end arrowheads, line style, type styling, and has many more color choices available.

Quick Tools: Color Picker, Line Weights, Text Properties

Quick Tool: Color Picker Color Choices

Quick Tool: Line Thickness

Properties Toolbar with Lots of Color Choices

I really wish Adobe has incorporated all the options from the Properties Toolbar into the new quick Tools. Hopefully, they will address these issues in a future release, as they have done with other things I've complained about incessantly.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

How to Fill Out a Scanned Form in Adobe Acrobat Reader DC

Today I needed to fill out a scanned form. While I discussed how to do this in previous versions of Acrobat and Reader, the process keeps changing every time Adobe overhauls the programs. This video demonstrates the process in Adobe Acrobat Reader DC (which is free).

You'll never have to print and scan forms again!

Monday, October 3, 2016

Tips for Fixing Overset Text

For an experienced user, fixing overset text is so simple that we overlook it, but for a new user, overset text can be quite a conundrum. So I wanted to share with you several different ways to fix overset text.

I share how to fix overset text manually, semi-automatically, and full automatically, as well as dealing with and understanding overset text in table cells. I also share how to use Text Frame options to automatically reveal overset text.

Read the entire article at InDesign Secrets.
Overset Text
How to Fix Overset text Semi-automatically

Overset text in a sidebar
Overset text in table cells

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

My Secret Dream of Becoming a Clothing Designer

It's not something I generally advertise, but did you know that my college degree is in Home Economics? And that outside of work, I am a passionate knitting designer and long-time athlete? These things have come together recently in a way that allowed me to expand my designing beyond just my usual computer work. I recently submitted a dress design idea to a women's sportswear company and my idea gathered enough votes to go up for pre-orders.

They turned my rough sketch into a real design in print and in black, which is up for sale on the Skirt Sports website.

Skirt Sports asked me to write up a little background about the inspiration behind this dress design. In it, I share about my love of freedom of movement, being comfortable, and how that combined with my need for high-performance professional clothing. You can read the entire article here: The Brains, Beauty and Brawn Behind the Out & About Dress

Monday, September 12, 2016

How to Change the Text Size in Measurement Tool In Acrobat DC

I did a search for this topic this morning, and apparently, people have been wondering about this going back for about a decade, or whenever the Measuring Tool was added in to Acrobat. I do need to give a disclaimer that this is a kludgy workaround, and bypasses Acrobat's lack of built-in functionality for this feature. So here we go!

1. Start by opening the Measure Tool and measuring the object.

2. Next, go to your commenting tools and make a new text comment. You can use either there regular Add Text Comment tool, or the text box tool. Basically, we're just need to use one of the tools that gives us access to the text properties editing. Then using the Text Properties tool, type in the distance that Acrobat generated above when you measured your object. In this case, it is 1.5 in. Then change the font size to whatever you prefer. You can change the color as well if you like.

3. Next, select the text n the text comment you just made. Copy it.

4. Open the Comments pane. Select the distance measurement in the "Line" comment.

5. Paste in the text that you copied from the text box tool. Violá! Larger type!

Now, I wish there was a way to make this the default, but since Acrobat doesn't have text size as one of the editable properties of the measure tool, the size of the type isn't taken into consideration when you choose "Make Properties Default."

However, you can have access to edit a number of other properties of the Dimension Line, just not type size. If you need to have larger type Dimension Line type on a regular basis, I would imagine that an Acrobat scripter could easily write a script to do just that.

Friday, September 9, 2016

How to Use The Acrobat DC Highlighter Tool

Recently, Acrobat upgraded the highlighter tool so that you can highlight non-text objects. But most people aren't aware of the upgrade because it only works on scanned pages or pages with raster objects on them. Nevertheless, it's an interesting functionality. It's not quite as user-friendly as I'd like, but it's handy to be aware of. Enjoy!

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Are Your Sticky Note Icons Too Small? Make them Bigger!

Though I've grown to like Acrobat DC, one of my ongoing complaints about it is that it is too difficult to see which annotations are selected. Take a look at the following examples:

Acrobat 9
Acrobat XI
Acrobat DC
Notice how the sticky notes in both Acrobat 9 and XI had nice thick blue borders around them. But notice how delicate and thin the border is on the sticky note in Acrobat DC. While I realize that the Acrobat UI designers probably wanted to make the sticky notes less obtrusive, now they can be quite difficult to see. If I have multiple sticky notes on a very complex page, it's easy for those tiny little blue lines to get lost.

Also, something that is not apparent in these little screenshots is that in Acrobat 9 and XI, the blue lines around the sticky notes were actually marching ants. They had a very subtle blink to them, while the blue line around the DC icon does not blink at all, making it even more difficult to locate the sticky note on the page.

I recently stumbled across an older thread on the Acrobat forums that discussed how to increase the size of sticky notes. AND IT IS GOLD!

The first sticky note on the left is a normal sized sticky note. If you keep running the script, you keep increasing the size of your sticky notes. Now you can easily see it on the page!

This scripting goodness is courtesy of Try67, Acrobat scripter extraordinaire.
Select your sticky note, open the JS console (Ctrl+J), enter this code, select it and press Ctrl+Enter:
var r = selectedAnnots[0].rect;
r[2] += r[2]-r[0];
r[3] += r[3]-r[1];
selectedAnnots[0].setProps({rect: r})
This script works in Acrobat X, XI, and DC.

Edit 8-19-16: Try67 recently adapted this script to also work on text annotations, such as cross-outs and underlines. It is available for sale for $50. Check it out!

Saturday, June 11, 2016

Number Knitting #2: Colorizing Photos in Photoshop

In my efforts to republish the Number Knitting book, I am trying to recruit knitters to help me reknit all the patterns from the book, so that I can take new photographs. In order to breathe a bit of life back into the photographs, I am colorizing them in Photoshop.

Here is the photo as I originally scanned in it. It has low contrast and looks pretty boring.
Checkerboard Design Table Mat
I've been experimenting with a few different ways to colorize my images, and here's what I'm doing now. I'll likely change it up, as I get more sophisticated with colorizing. But I find this method to be pretty flexible for what I need.

1. So in Photoshop, I started by adjusting the curves. I just clicked Auto.

Auto Curves
2. I set the blend mode to multiply.
Set Blend Mode to Multiply
3. Then I created a new layer, moved it below the image, named it,  and went to Layer > Layer Mask > Hide All. The first and most important thing to understand when working with masking is that black hides and white reveals. So I start by hiding everything, and then I'll paint in with white to reveal just the parts that I want to be blue.

4. Make sure that you have your pixels portion of your layer selected. See the little border around the transparent pixels in the image below?

5. Then go to Edit > Fill > Color > and choose a nice blue.

And the result is nothing so far. But now we'll start painting in the areas that we want to be blue. 

6. Select your paintbrush tool, and choose white for your foreground color. Start painting in around the parts that you want to be blue. Then fill in the area clean up the edges, adjusting your brush size and feather as needed. You can adjust your brush size using the [ and ] keys.

  • ] will increase the size of you brush.
  • [ will decrease the size of your brush.

You can also adjust the feather of your brush using the keyboard.

  • Shift + ] increases the hardness (decreasing the feather).
  • Shift + [ decreases the hardness (increasing the feather).

7. It looks pretty good, right? 

If you go to the Channels panel, and turn on the mask, you can see that there are still some areas that I missed. See the light red poking through the blue near the edges of the table mat?

Now I can more easily see those areas and fill them in.

8. Use this same technique to paint in all the Blue areas.

9. Then repeat this process for the light blue squares.

What I really like about this technique is that now, changing the colors is as easy as adding a different fill color.

You can even add a gradient fill, to mimic variegated yarns.

10. Now that I have the picture colored the way I want, I can choose some yarns to match it; Because the objective of this project is not just to colorize old photos, but to get people to knit these projects. The colors in Photoshop need to be a representation of the actual materials they'll be using the knit the pattern.

The original pattern calls for cotton yarn in an afghan weight. In modern day terms, that means a worsted weight yarn. Just this morning, I discovered some great worsted weight cotton yarn, in a variety of colors, at an affordable price. Conveniently, enough, it's called "Dishie" (because it is super durable and suitable for dishcloths and other kitchen-related tasks).  Cotton yarns are typically rather muted in color.

For my original colorway of blues, I'll choose Dishie in Blue and Azure.

But if you look at the original blue colored photo, the blues I chose are too intense.

By reducing the opacity of the blue layers, I can more closely match the color of the yarn that I'm specifying for the checkerboard table mat pattern. I reduced the Blue layer to 80% and the Light Blue layer to 60%.

Would you like to knit this pattern and provide photos for the book? If so, please let me know! I look forward to knitting with you!