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Beverly Hills, California
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June 6, 2001     Beverly Hills Weekly
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~:~- ~.~.~, ~i ~,~:~ Publishing Electronic Documents To PDF Allows Everybody To See Your Files Exactly As You Intended By Michael Tanenbaum Electronic documents have many advan- tages over print. They can serve as archives of important documents, as digital replicas without the need for file cabinets and desk space. They can be easily stored on disk or shared over a network. They can be pub- lished and distributed cheaply and efficient- ly over the lnternet or through corporate intranets. But electronic documents also have their own, novel problems. Most everybody, upon receiving a file from a co-worker, has experienced the helpless feeling of opening it to a screen full of indecipherable symbols - if the file opens at all. This is because nearly every piece of software that you use, from word- processors to spreadsheets, databases and accounting programs, has its own, propri- etary way of defining and formatting its documents. Traditionally, this has meant that in order to open that meticulously for- matted sales pitch that you created in Word Perfect, your client must also have Word Perfect on her computer. And to complicate matters, her aging version of Word Perfect for the Mac may not entirely understand the formatting of your more recent version of Word Perfect running on Windows 2000. File translators remedy this situation somewhat, but not completely. While most major office software can now translate and open files created in competing file for- mats, the formatting will still be altered. Additionally, even files created and opened with the same application will look differ- ent to different computer users, depending on several factors on the user's end, includ- ing: their screen size; fonts installed on their computer; their preferred font size; and their computing platform, whether it bc Mac, PC or Linux. The solution is Adobe Systems' "Portable Document Format." PDF, as it is known, provides an elcgant means of prescrving the intended layout of complex documents, including the original formatting, fonts, character and word spacing, pictures, graphics, charts and any other proprietary formatting by a particular program. Furthermore, PDF files remain searchable, like Word or Excel documents. A program called Adobe Acrobat lets users create doc- uments on one platform, such as Microsoft Word for the Mac, convert them to PDF, and then display them with the free Acrobat Reader on any other computer, platform or screen exactly as the author intended. PDF is also much more than merely a means for preserving documents as the author intended. After converting a docu- ment to PDF, Acrobat can be used to create a table of contents, bookmarks, hyperlinks between sections, an index and a glossary. Authors can add virtual "sticky notes" to guide readers, and thumbnails, or miniature representations of pages, as a visual aid to navigating a large document. Acrobat also features impressive forms creation tools such as buttons, drop-down lists, checkbox- es, and fill-in text fields. These forms can be filled out electronically by the end-user, without having to first print out the docu- ment and then hand-write the information. Finally, digital signatures can be applied to PDF documents so that they cannot be modified by anybody except for their author. In order to read and print PDF docu- ments, you need the free Acrobat Reader, which is easily downloadable from Adobe's website, if it isn't already installed on your computer. According to Adobe's press materials, Adobe Acrobat Reader has become "the open de facto standard for electronic document distribution world- wide." It is virtually ubiquitous among business computer users. Furthermore, nearly all commercial software comes bun- dled with the Acrobat Reader in order to display the manuals and product documen- tation that are increasingly being distrib- uted electronically, via PDF. Acrobat Reader has three options for dis- playing PDF documents. They can be viewed one page at a time; continuously scrolling all the pages; or as facing-page spreads, as with books. In addition, you can zoom the document to various magnifica- tions, without losing quality. This is because Acrobat files are "vector-based," which means that they look the same regardless of magnification, as opposed to "bitmapped" documents, such as Photoshop files, which are made up of indi- vidual pixcls which, when blown up, appear blocky and jagged. PDF files are commonly associated with the Web, in part because Web browsers also display documents originating from many different file formats. However, there are some major differences. HTML authors can only suggest what a file should look like to the end-user, but ultimately the browser determines how a person sees that docu- ment - whether text is wrapped, unavailable fonts are substituted, etc. Additionally, while HTML supports a wide variety of formats on the Web, it does not match PDF's versatility with tables, charts, forms and larger documents such as annual reports and entire books. Furthermol'e, Acrobat can embed fonts into PDF files, so that even if the end-user does not have a particular font on her computer, she can still see the document how it was intended. PDF is invaluable in situations in which document portability and integrity are cru- cial, such as in large corporations and gov- ernment agencies. It also provides an excel- lent means for sharing and collaboration among colleagues running disparate plat- forms and proprietary software. With PDF files, everybod=v sees your files exactly as you intended.l~ Our services include: * Facials" * Massages * Body massages * Manicures * Pedicures * Hair styling * Dermabrasion * Bowen treatments Hair Care Skin Care Cosmetics Bath Fragrances Spa Kno Ue Large elecUon Connie Stevens invites you to experience You Bridal Shower S at r de n 310-657-5910 Revitalize your mind, spirit And body. The Garden Sanctuary Executive Day Spa, Boutique and Caf offer a full array of luxurious spa services and treatments 426 S. Robertson Boulevard Los Angeles, CA 90048 www.foreverspring.com Michael Tanenbaum is the technical director at Clockwork Websites, LLC. He can be