Monday, March 25, 2019

After More Than a Decade, a New Comment Icon in Acrobat!

Many Acrobat users don't know that there is more than one type of sticky note icon in Acrobat. I wrote about those here: The Case for Still Using the Deprecated Features in Acrobat, Part 1: The Properties Toolbar
Acrobat list of Icon types

It seems to be that the icons are at least somewhat standardized across PDF viewers. Bluebeam Revu has the same icons (minus "Insert Text").

Bluebeam Revu list of Icon types

I noticed that Acrobat recently added a new icon! The reason for it has to do with the latest (and hugely unpopular) changes to the Acrobat commenting tools. But at least now one of the issues is sort of addresses. It's been very difficult to see which comments are selected in the desktop version of the program, as I demonstrated in this feature request: Comments and Annotations need marching ants

Adobe has heard our requests, and although they didn't implement the solution as I would have, they at least made it easier to see the various comments now. When you mouse over one of them, it gets enlarged. Sadly, it only works with the speech bubble type comment. So if you use any of the other 16 icons, this feature doesn't work. At least it works, with different colors so we're not limited to yellow.

This new icon is called "Selected Comment." It should really be named "Hovered Over", since it works when a comment is hover over, not when it's selected.

Hover over the speech bubble icon and it will enlarge
New Acrobat list of Icon Types

Icon Confusion

Adobe seems to really be steering its user towards the "speech bubble" icon and away from all other comment icons. They failed to incorporate the different icons into the tools panel at all. One has to know about the deprecated "Properties Toolbar" to utilize the different icons. But the new releases of Acrobat ignore the various icons.

Here are the commenting tool options in Acrobat DC web.

Only a Few commenting tools were included in the web version of Acrobat DC

To make things more confusing, while the "comment" icon at the top is a rectangular speech bubble, all the comments within the body of the document are displayed as round speech bubbles.

All the icons are displayed as speech bubbles
Unless of course, you view it in Acrobat desktop version. Then the icon types get changed to the Reviewer's Adobe avatar (which is ridiculously hard to change, by the way). And I have no idea why the comment icon is red.

Look, my Document Geek logo has replaced the icon type! WTH?
Also, when I click on the comment, there are no no properties associated with it. At. All. ???

Look ma! No properties!

If a reviewer hasn't given themselves an Adobe avatar, they get a generic one. So that means that instead of useful icons, all of my documents will now have the same generic gray avatar in every single comment.

Generic Head Avatar

Commenting Tool Differences


The list of commenting tools available is robust in the desktop version. The way it should be!

Acrobat DC Desktop Version commenting tools
The toolset is very limited in the web version. And the icons are different

Acrobat DC for web commenting tools
If you open a document review from the web, into Acrobat, the toolset is now limited to those tools available in the web version of Acrobat. But the icons are slightly different.

Acrobat DC tools: desktop version, but Document opened from a shared review

Stick with one type of Review

In my opinion, it's best to stick with one type of review method. If you use the desktop version and some sort of cloud sharing method (like dropbox), stick with it. You'll have the full range of tools available to you. But if all you want to do is add a few sticky notes (as was done in the Adobe demo files for the Acrobat DC for web videos), then by all means, use the Shared Review and comment in your documents in your web browser of choice.

Wednesday, February 27, 2019

Commenting Panes: a Comparison Between Acrobat DC and Bluebeam Revu

I've been an Acrobat user for nearly 20 years. I also daily monitor the Adobe Acrobat forums and answer questions from other Acrobat users. I've even recorded a LinkedInLearning course on Acrobat. I've pushed Acrobat as far as I can take it for my PDF commenting needs. I still use Acrobat daily for other functions, but for nearly all my PDF commenting, I now use Bluebeam Revu.

Bluebeam Revu was designed by engineers, for reviewing engineering drawings. And since much of my work involves doing just that, I've found that Bluebeam Revu meets my needs like no other PDF editing software. Today, I'd like to show in detail one of the reasons I like it so much.

I have an 11x17 mechanical arrangement which I've color coded by system. At first, the two programs don't look that much different.

Comments Sorted By Color: Acrobat DC

Comments Sorted By Color: Bluebeam Revu

While both sets of comments are listed in collapsable groups, the comments in Revu also display important categories in columns, much like a spreadsheet.

Here they are expanded. Notice how the color and a checkbox are both displayed in each and every comment. Because the comments pane is totally customizable, I've chosen to hide the irrelevant information, such as author name and date.

Expanded Comments: Bluebeam Revu
Now take a look at the same set of comments in Acrobat DC. Notice how prominent the author name and date are in the Acrobat comments pane. The icons are also huge, and gray (and unpopular). And the checkboxes are not there. (If you want to mark something as checked, you first have to click on the comment to have the checkbox display, then you have to click on the checkbox. Each. And. Every. Time.

Expanded Comments: Acrobat DC
Now let's take a look at how the comments display when additional information is added. I've chosen to display the author name, page, and comments. Again, all the content is displayed in a handy grid, making it very simple to scroll through the list and look for the information I need. Easy!

Expanded comment detail: Bluebeam Revu

Here is the same information displayed in Acrobat. Since the Comments pane is not customizable, it still displays information which is irrelevant to me for this document: the date and the author name. And the text in the comment pop-ups are not displayed in a grid view, but rather, tucked underneath the author name, making it harder to find them. And since the icons are gray (And not the comment color), it's easy to scroll down an no longer be able to see which color the comment actually is.

Expanded comment detail: Acrobat DC
According to Adobe, you can resize the Comments pane, but it's basically useless, since the information isn't listed in a grid view. So much wasted space!

Acrobat DC Comments Pane Resized

 Here is the comment pane in Revu, resized, with lots if useful information displayed. Great stuff! You can customize not only which columns to display, but their order and width.

Customized Comment Pane: Revu
Here are the same comments viewed in Acrobat. Making the panel wider serves no benefit. The panel cannot be customized, and important information is left out. It does not display the subject, the status names, or who set the status.


Comments Pane: Acrobat DC
One must hover over each status icon (which is the green thumbs up, green checkmark, red X, and yellow thumbs down. Only when you hover over each status icon does it say what the status is and who set the status.
Comments Pane: Acrobat DC, hovering over a Status icon

If that wasn't confusing enough, the "Completed By" status icon is a green checkmark, not to be confused with the regular checkmark (the blue one on the right).

Acrobat DC: Two checkmarks are confusing

Another noteworthy difference between the comments panes of Revu and Acrobat is how easier it is to see the selected comment in a list. In Acrobat, when you click on a comment, it expands, and takes up even more space, assuming that you want to type something in the comment box. The third comment down is selected, and the fourth one down is simply hovered over.

Acrobat DC: One selected comment, one hovered over
In Revu, it's WAY easier to see which comment is selected (because it's blue, the way it used to be in earlier versions of Acrobat). There is no change in comment appearance when it's hovered over.

Bluebeam Revu: One selected comment

It's worthwhile to note that Acrobat 9 has a very similar layout to Bluebeam Revu. Each comment icon is colored, and the information is somewhat listed in a grid.

  • The status is written out, as opposed to being an icon
  • The Subject is listed (in this case, "Electrical").
  • Each comment has a checkbox.
  • The author name and date are still displayed, and that can't be changed.
  • The selected comment has a thick black border, making it easy to see which comment is selected.
  • Acrobat 9 also has a handy commenting pane which displays all kinds of useful functions. 
While I prefer the layout of Acrobat 9 Comments pane when compared to later versions of Acrobat, it's still not as useful or user friendly as that of Revu.

Acrobat 9 Comments Pane with Handy Commenting Toolbar



PDF comments in Revu can be exported as three different formats:

Export Comments As: Revu

PDF Comments in Acrobat can be exported as FDF or XFDF files, but not as CSV, or PDF Files.

Export Comments As: Acrobat

It's clear that the difference between Bluebeam Revu and Acrobat is HUGE! Plus, Revu has the added benefit of sold as box software, meaning that there are no monthly subscriptions fees to pay. Pay once, use forever.

If you like'd to learn more about Bluebeam Revu check out these articles:

Monday, February 11, 2019

Dropbox now Integrates with Online PDF Editing Software

Awhile back, I posted my thoughts about Dropbox commenting in a lengthy 2-part series.
 Part 1: Beware of Dropbox Commenting
Part 2: More Reasons to Hate Dropbox Commenting

I stated:

"I think that in addition to the big blue Share and Download buttons in the top right, Dropbox should have a button labeled 'Open in Acrobat." 

Well, I still don't use Dropbox commenting features, but it appears that Dropbox is raising their game! Here's what I came across today: a big "Open with" button.



It appears that Dropbox is working with PDF editors to allow for online editing of PDFs stored in Dropbox. But guess who's missing from this list? That's right! Acrobat!

That's not surprising, seeing how Adobe Document Cloud is a direct competitor with Dropbox for online storage, editing, and commenting of PDF files. It's interesting to note that Adobe Sign is in the list, however. Stay tuned to see what develops next!

If Dropbox users didn't know about Acrobat's competitors, they sure will now, since they are in a beautiful dropdown list right inside what's probably the world's most popular file sharing service.

Will Dropbox allow for their comments to be embedded? Will Adobe allow for their technology to be integrated into the Dropbox ecosystem? Who knows...? 

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Things I Love About Bluebeam Revu: Part 2

There are so many things I love about Bluebeam Revu that it is impossible to fit them all in one article. So I am dedicating an entire series to it. Read Part 1 of the series here.

Keyboard Shortcuts

  • Customizable Keyboard shortcuts
In Revu 2.0 for Mac, users have the ability to set their own keyboard shortcuts! I've seen a fair number of keyboard shortcuts interfaces in my years in publishing, and I have to say that this is the best one I have seen. It clearly divides the shortcuts into two categories: Tools and Commands. It also has the ability to let users search for a specific command. 

Keyboard Shortcuts: Tools

Keyboard Shortcuts: Commands
Now, the terms may be slightly different than what I'm accustomed to, but that's no problem. For example, what I know as the "Hand" tool is actually called "Pan" here in Revu; and it's located under the Commands tab.

The list of shortcuts automatically filters itself so that only functions which contain the search term are listed. This is very similar to how the Illustrator keyboard shortcuts work.

Users can search for shortcuts!

User Interface

I'm a huge fan of the UI in Revu. It puts a priority on efficiency and ease of use. I can tell that the people who designed and built Revu actually use it. 
  • Graphical Icons are built right into the dropdown menus, and the shortcuts for each function are displayed in the dropdown as well.

Revu for Mac 1.0: Document > Pages

Revu for Mac 1.0: Measure
The graphical icons became a bit more streamlined in Revu 2.0 for Mac, but I really like the fact that they still have colors associated with them. The menus were also slightly redesigned in Revu 2.0 for Mac (relocating some of the menu items), but the tools are still very easy to locate. 

Revu for Mac 2.0: Tools > Measure

All of the markup tools are available in the menus.

Revu for Mac 2.0: Tools > Markup
Something noteworthy about the location of the text markup tools is that they not located with the drawing tools. If you are familiar with Acrobat, you're probably used to the Sticky Note and the Highlighter tool having top bidding, base on their prominence in the menu bar. However, with Revu, the most prominent markup tools are actually the drawing tools. It took me a bit to locate the text annotation tools, but I found them in a submenu: Tools > Markup > PDF Content. I think that's an important distinction because, to me, it clearly separates out the intention of those tools. They are to markup existing PDF text content.


I also really appreciate how all the drawing markup tools are also permanently located as icons in the far right side of the program. And the program has very Fast UI, no waiting for any panels to load, ever!

The drawing markup and commenting tools are always available for easy access!

There are so many things I love about Bluebeam Revu that I will be doing a series of article explaining how awesome its features are. Please subscribe and join in learning this amazing program with me!


Follow by Email

Monday, October 8, 2018

How to Email a PDF using Bluebeam Revu

This process is so simple that it seemingly doesn't seven warrant a blog post. And yet, I'm posting this to demonstrate not how simple the process is, and how simple it should always be.

Email a PDF from Bluebeam Revu
What's so great about how Revu handles this task is that it will take the PDF in exactly its current state, and attach it to an email. Somehow, it even magically works when your document has comments in it that haven't been saved. It is a single step! And if you don't like the default keyboard shortcut for Emailing a PDF, you can give it a customized keyboard shortcut.

Customize your keyboard shortcuts

If Bluebeam Revu is new to you , and you'd like to know why I have found that it's such a great piece fo software, read this article.

Friday, October 5, 2018

How to Get the Old Version of Acrobat back

Earlier this week, my Acrobat updated it self without any intervention on my part. What the heck?! If you are like me and are disappointed with the user interface changes, there is a way to get the 2018 version of Acrobat back.

Why should we be limited to just one version of Acrobat? Keep them all!

1. Uninstall CC2019
I tried uninstalling through the Creative Cloud app and it didn't work, so I had to navigate to Acrobat CC in my applications folder and uninstall it there (double click on "Acrobat Uninstaller.")

2. Download CC 2018
I didn't see the 2018 download link on the Adobe website, but I was able to find it here:
https://prodesigntools.com/acrobat-dc-2017-2018-direct-download-links.html

3. Install Acrobat CC 2018.

4. Move CC2018 to the desktop and rename the folder (only if you want to also install CC 2019)
This is important because if the 2018 version is still in your app folder, it may just update to 2019 and you'd have to start this process over again.

5. Download and install CC 2019 (if you feel so inclined). Rename it's folder.
https://cloud.acrobat.com/acrobat
The latest two version of my Acrobat installations were a little buggy after this process. I don't know if that's because I was running both 2018 and 2019, or if they are just buggy. Acrobat does crash pretty regularly for me (even prior to this update), and I've read complaints from other users that 2019 crashes frequently, so I suspect the program is just buggy. Just be forewarned.

6. Turn off automatic updates for Pete's sake!
If you don't want automatic updates, be sure to turn off automatic updates in Acrobat Preferences > Updater.

Turn o
ff automatic updates if you don't want Acrobat updating on its own!

If you are using Adobe Reader, there is no option in the UI to turn off automatic updates; which means that you are stuck with the new version. Sorry!



For little bit of insight as to why people might want to revert to the earlier version, visit this thread in the Adobe forums: https://forums.adobe.com/thread/2541730

You can also visit the Acrobat User Voice forum here and share your thoughts with Adobe.

Please check this page containing the known issues of Acrobat and Reader.

Wednesday, October 3, 2018

MoreInfo Improves Notes, Conditional Text, Tracked Changes and More

Much of my workflow involves obscure, little understood technical features of InDesign. Two of the features I use the most are Conditional Text and Notes. They were introduced many years ago and haven’t been improved since then. However, from time to time, independent developers decide to tackle some of the challenges faced by users of these obscure features. And for these developers I am extremely grateful! In this post I’d like to introduce you to a new commercial plug-in called MoreInfo by Kerntiff Publishing Systems. MoreInfo combines the information from several features and displays it all in one handy spot. With MoreInfo, you can see, well, more info, on conditional text, notes, tracked changes, overset text, and index entries.

MoreInfo Panel

Read the entire article at InDesign Secrets.

Tuesday, October 2, 2018

How to Make a Multiple Color Highlighting Palette in Bluebeam Revu

I've recently switched PDF commenting programs and I'm excited to be learning new and more efficient ways to work. Normally, when I need help with software, I visit the product forums, but for some reason, Bluebeam decided to remove their forums in the name of privacy. So I'm left to figure things out on my own.

Today I wanted to set up a palette of highlighters a a custom tool set. It took a little bit to figure it out, but it works great and makes highlighting in multiple colors so easy!

1. Choose the Pen tool and draw a line. Be sure to NOT hold down the shift key. For some reason, this doesn't work when the shift key is held down.

2. Check the Highlight checkbox and change the line width to something thick. I used 12.

Draw using the pen tool, change the properties to Highlight and thicker

3. Right click on the line and select Add to Tool Chest. I had already set up a custom Tool Ste called "Highlighers." That's why it's listed right below "My Tools."

Add to Tool Chest

Manage Tool Sets
4. Go to the Tool Chest. Double click on the icon. That's it!
Viewed in Drawing Mode

Viewed in Properties Mode

Multiple Color Highlighting Palette!

Things to be aware of

It took a little bit of fiddling to figure out how to get this to work. The thing with commenting in Bluebeam is that the tools are so adaptable, they'll behave pretty much however you want. By holding down shift when drawing your line, Revu will recognize it as a line and will force it's behavior in the Tool Chest accordingly.



1. Line (properties mode)
2. Highlighter created from Pen
3. Line (in Drawing mode, works as a stamp)
4. Highlighter (Drawing mode, works as a stamp)
5. Highlighter created from the highlighter tool (buggy and doesn't work)
6. Pen (in drawing mode)
For you my beloved blog readers: I am sharing my set of Revu highlighters. Enjoy!

If you aren't familiar with Revu and want to learn more about why this software is so great, read this article.