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 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!


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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.

Friday, August 31, 2018

Introducing my Favorite Features of Bluebeam Revu PDF Editing and Markup Software

After using the same PDF editing software for many years, I recently discovered a new one, tailored specifically to meet the needs of people in the AEC fields (Architecture, Engineering, and Construction). I downloaded a 30 day free trial and purchased it right after my trial ended. 

This new software is called Bluebeam Revu. It is cross platform, although the PC version is a bit more full-featured than the mac version, from what I have been told. But the mac version is still mind blowing. I can't even imagine what more can be added! The PC version is $349 and the Mac version is $199, and it is worth every penny! Apparently, I'm not the only one who thinks this software is amazing. According to Bluebeam, they have over one million users worldwide.

The work I do on my engineering-related PDFs involves mostly commenting and markup. With that in mind, I wanted to share with other folks some of my favorite markup features of Revu. Buckle your seatbelt! This is fantastic!

Note: These are screenshots from Revu Mac version 1. A week after I wrote this article, version 2 was released! Soon I will update this article with a link to my experience using version.

  • There are only one set of colors to choose from, and they closely resemble those in Acrobat 9.
Color Options
  • No Fill Option for drawing markups. Can I get an AMEN on that one?!

  • Toolchest lets you save regularly used tools so you don't have to recreate the settings every time. You can also export your Tools to share with others. This is also a great way to store drawing markups and text boxes or things that you regularly need to use. It's like a spin on the Acrobat stamps pane or the Illustrator symbols panel. 
ToolChest has a bunch of shapes already made and waiting for you!
  • Streamlined comment pop-up. Just a place to type your comment. Nothing more, nothing less.

  • Drawing mode has a highlighter option. The beauty of this is that users can simply draw shapes around whatever they want to highlight! This affects the blending mode of the shapes and makes the shape tools act just like a highlighter. No more scribbling over large areas to attempt to highlight them.

  • The highlighter tool is smart enough to be able to highlight vector objects that are not fonts, without me having to rasterize the document. 
  • Module based UI whereby I can put whichever modules wherever I choose in the left, right, and bottom panes. The UI is truly customizable!
Module based UI

  • The comment/markup pane harkens back to Acrobat 9, where it was docked at the bottom and had no wasted space. This is a great use of space!

  • Handy Dandy Markup Toolbar

  • The Markups pane is also fully customizable, so I can choose which columns I want displayed, as well as in what order they display.
Customizable Markup Pane

  • Stacking order options for comments!

  • The opacity of Drawing markup Fills and borders can be adjusted independently

  • Collapsible Categories in the Panes. Hide what you don't need!
  • XY coordinates for all comments, right in the Properties Pane
Collapsible categories! XY Coordinates! Oh my!
I'm sure once I get more familiar with this software, my list of favorite features will grow. Give it a try and see how you like it!

Read the next article in this Bluebeam series here.