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Create a Shared PDF Review Using Acrobat.com for Easy Managing and Review-Tracking

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Acrobat X has a lot of ways of sharing PDF files with others so that they can review and comment on the file if necessary. While those services are very useful, Adobe expert Brian Wood focuses on how you can access Acrobat.com from within Adobe Acrobat X to share a PDF with others as a shared PDF review. He details how you can send your document for review, track the review, and review and comment on the PDF.

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Acrobat X has a lot of ways of sharing PDF files with others so that they can review and comment on the file if necessary. One of my all-time favorite ways is to utilize the service called Acrobat.com. Acrobat.com is a suite of four applications in one online service (see Figure 1). It includes the following:

  • Adobe ConnectNow
  • Acrobat.com Workspaces
  • Adobe Buzzword
  • Acrobat.com Tables

Figure 1 Acrobat.com

While those services are very useful, I would like to focus on how you can access Acrobat.com from within Adobe Acrobat X to share a PDF with others as a shared PDF review.

Here’s generically how the review and comment cycle will work using Acrobat.com: Using Acrobat.com, the PDF doesn’t need to be sent as an attachment via email and possibly be blocked by a firewall or email size limit. It’s “hosted” or uploaded to the Acrobat.com servers and shared with others that you can designate. Those users to whom you make the PDF available will click a link that is sent to them via email (by Acrobat.com) and be taken to a page in their browser with a button to view or download the PDF file. All users who want to review the PDF will need Acrobat 9 or later or Reader 9 or later to really experience the review cycle. If they have certain browsers (this will be discussed in more detail later), they can open the PDF and review the file right there. Otherwise, they will be prompted to download the PDF and review it on their desktop using Reader 9 or later or Acrobat 9 or later. All of the comments added by reviewers are uploaded and merged into one single PDF (typically) that the initiator has on his or her machine.

Acrobat.com may not work for everyone. Some companies I talk to don’t like the idea of uploading PDF content to an unknown server, even though the server is secure (https:) and hosted through Adobe. That is why there are many other options for creating a review using your own server, email, and more.

So, let’s get started. As you make your way through this article, you will learn the following:

  • Send your document for review
  • Track the review
  • Review and comment on the PDF

Send Your Document for Review

To start the review, you need a PDF that you are willing to send out for review and comment. Make sure that there is no security on the PDF. If you must, you can have password security (File > Properties), but the Changes Allowed option must be set to Any Except Extracting Pages so that comments can be added to the file.

With the PDF ready to go, you can add any comments to start with if you like or not. Make sure that the file is saved and you are ready to send it via Acrobat.com.

  1. With the PDF ready and open, click the Comments task pane or choose View > Comment > Review. In the Review area click Send for Shared Review.
  2. In the Send for Shared Review dialog box, make sure that Automatically Download & Track Comments with Acrobat.com is chosen from the menu at the top (see Figure 2). If you want to use your own server for doing this, you can choose Automatically Collect Comments on My Own Internal Server. Click Next.
  3. Figure 2 Choose the type of shared review

  4. In the next screen, enter your Adobe ID (username and password), then click the Sign In button. Your username and password will be confirmed, and you will be taken to the next screen (see Figure 3). This information is stored within Acrobat from here on out.
  5. Figure 3 Sign in to Acrobat.com

  6. In the next screen, you will be asked to enter email addresses for the reviewers whom you would like to invite to review and comment on the PDF. The To field is where you enter email addresses of those who are “required” to join in (separated by a semicolon or a return). The Cc field is for those who are optional (maybe a manager who wants to track what comments are made, for example). You can change the Subject or the Message if you like.
  7. Make sure that Open Access:… is chosen in the Access Level menu. If you choose the option that starts with Limited Access:…, the user will need to log in to Acrobat.com to access the file.
  8. Click Review Deadline and choose a date to close the review or no date at all. After the date passes, reviewers can’t add any more comments (see Figure 4).
  9. Figure 4 Edit the Review Deadline

  10. Select Allow Page View Sharing…. This makes it so that reviewers can use the Collaborate Live feature to share the PDF in a live chat session.
  11. Click Send to upload the PDF to Acrobat.com and send an email to reviewer(s) (see Figure 5).
  12. Figure 5 Send the email inviting the reviewers

After the review is started, Acrobat makes a copy of the PDF and adds “_review” to the end of the name, placing the copy in the same location as the original PDF that you started the review with. It also opens the copy in your version of Acrobat and starts the review process (see Figure 6). You can either add comments at this point or close the file and work on something else.

With the “_review” PDF open, notice the Collaborate Live panel on the left (that appears because you selected it when you sent the document for shared review), the yellow bar along the top of the page (called the document message bar), and the commenting tools on the right (in Acrobat X). Also notice the gray box in the upper–right corner of the page that tells you what has happened so far. All of these are there to help you review and comment. Leave the PDF open without clicking anywhere. Next, you will see what the process looks like from a reviewer(s) perspective (on a Mac, Acrobat Pro 9). Then, we will return to your document as the initiator.

Figure 6 The review process has begun for you, the initiator

After you initiate the review, the reviewer(s) should receive an email that looks something like Figure 7. The email invites them to click the link in the email and visit a web page to view or download the PDF. It also gives them a little bit of instruction on how to review and add comments to the file.

Figure 7 The email that reviewers will receive

After clicking the email link, a web page appears with a thumbnail of the shared PDF and two buttons to either download or open the file (see Figure 8).

Figure 8 The download page for the PDF on Acrobat.com

If the reviewer clicks the Open button, the PDF will open in the browser window in certain supported browsers. From my limited testing on Windows 7, the latest versions of Firefox and Internet Explorer on Windows allows users to open and review/comment on the PDF directly in the browser (see Figure 9), with Reader or Acrobat 9 or later installed first.

Figure 9 A browser (the latest version of Firefox on Windows 7) that supports viewing and reviewing

On Mac OS 10.6.6, the PDF can be opened and downloaded in the latest versions of Safari and Chrome. Finally, if the reviewer’s browser doesn’t support viewing a PDF, the file will be downloaded automatically to be viewed in Adobe Reader or Acrobat 9 or later (see Figure 10).

Figure 10 What happens when a browser does not support PDF viewing

The review process can begin for all parties: the reviewer(s) and the initiator. The reviewer(s), after opening the PDF, will see a dialog box welcoming them to the review and giving a summary of the deadline, who was invited, number of comments, and more (see Figure 11). After they click OK, they can begin to review and add comments to the PDF.

Figure 11 What the reviewer sees after opening the downloaded PDF

2. Track the Review | Next Section