Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Acrobat Rectangle Tool: Why Do You Disappoint Me So?

In today's daily adventure with Acrobat commenting tools, I decided to create different colored rectangles, and then sort them by color. I made rectangles of about six different colors, gave them all a different fill color, and removed the stroke weight. However, as you can see, according to "Acrobat's Sort by Color" feature, it only recognizes one color: red. What?!

So I have two complaints here:
  1. Even despite my best efforts, the rectangles not only all clearly still have a stroke (albeit very small), and
  2. The stroke color is what Acrobat uses when Sorting by Color. Lovely.

If I was in charge of redesigning the shape tools, here is what I would do:
  1. If a user chooses "No Line" and also sets a stroke weight of zero points, I would make sure that either one of those choices would result in the stroke disappearing completely.
  2. I would allow the user to set a preference (a radio button in the Commenting category of the Preferences dialog box) to choose to sort by either stroke color or fill color.
  3. On another note, I would add an option to set the blend mode to multiply, so that shape tools can be used as highlighters.
For more of my thoughts on using shape tools as highlighters, read another one of my blog posts: "Highlighting a PDF That Contains No Fonts."

Edit: I learned recently that Acrobat X does not have the "Sort Comments by Color" feature. How sad for me and every other technical writer on the planet who uses this feature! I hope it is included in the next version of Acrobat. (It was included in later versions of Acrobat DC.)

Edit: 9-13-918

If you need an easier way to create highlighting objects in your PDF, check out my article on Bluebeam Revu. It's an amazing program designed specifically to meet the needs of users in Architecture, Engineering, and Construction. The drawing tools in Revu have a "highlight" checkbox, enabling any shape to act as a highlighter. It still only sorts by fill color, but the sorting requires fewer clicks than in Acrobat!

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