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This feature article has two key companion pieces published exclusively inside the new ToshLetter™, which you can sign-up for and receive here. In fact, issue 4 is devoted entirely to Adobe PDF technology in AEC, and the complete Aragon interview is its main feature.

So if you are very interested in where Adobe is going with PDF and Acrobat in architecture/engineering/construction (AEC) in general, then be sure to sign-up today to get the latest ToshLetter.

Adobe's Acrobat Story

To be sure Adobe's PDF technology is everywhere, perhaps the most prominent standard on the Internet in terms of a document type beyond HTML. In this Chatside article we are going to cover a good part of a one-hour long interview with Patrick Aragon, Adobe's product manager for the Acrobat family. We are also publishing a companion piece in our fourth-issue of the new ToshLetter (PDF-based) email newsletter.

Today Adobe is a company highly focused on document collaboration and review technologies. And although the company continues to expand in design and web applications, recently acquiring its main rival Macromedia, a central pillar of the company remains Acrobat and PDF.

Patrick Aragon, who's background is in engineering, is Adobe's Acrobat product manager. He told Architosh that when he joined the company they were in the middle of the development cycle for Acrobat 7. "Adobe realized then that in looking at the very large customer base there were significant numbers of AEC users," notes Aragon, "and so they made the decision to extend support in that direction."

Since Acrobat 7 Professional was introduced a year ago Patrick says the take-up in the product has been incredible. Especially in AEC where the company has been pushing harder. "The ability to produce PDF files from programs like Autocad and Microstation has been very popular," says Aragon.

From a manufacturing point-of-view Adobe PDF seems to be literally everywhere in the market. I asked Patrick what percentage do they have in AEC. "I can't tell you a precise number," says Aragon, "Adobe has 1.52 billion copies of Acrobat Reader in circulation. And that is just what we are able to count." Patrick explained that Adobe can't count copies of Acrobat that come with software packages for example, only those that are downloaded from Adobe Web servers.


About 'Open Standards'

In our conversation we talked about the emergence of 3d in all CAD industries and specifically how Adobe was dealing with that. I asked Patrick what was on the horizon -- remember this interview took place a few weeks before the Acrobat 3d announcement -- besides the .u3d format. He said, "The .u3d format is an example of our interest in the CAD markets and that format fits us very well." In asking him to explain he added: "Because it is an industry 'open standard' format and that is very much in-line with our [Adobe's] approach to the market."

Indeed many in the CAD industry are not fully aware of just how open Adobe's PDF technology really is. Patrick explained that every time there is a new release of the technology (a new version) Adobe publishes the specifications. Additionally, the company produces Adobe PDF Libraries for third-party software companies to license. "Bentley is a strategic partner in this space," explained Aragon. "When we launched Acrobat 7 they were able to provide the ability to input .u3d files into PDF documents almost immediately."


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