Sunday, January 9, 2011

Adobe Reader X Gotcha

I completed my review and copyedit of the layout PDF for the February issue of Realms of Fantasy magazine; this will be the first issue under new owners Damnation Books.

I had just installed Adobe Reader X (aka Version 10), which complicated the process, because I had never used this version before for editing. I had worked about three hours on the layout, highlighting many (many) words and sections of text and, where appropriate, inserting comments; highlighting and comments are new with Reader X. At one point I saved my work but it appeared that Reader had crashed: the entire Save screen had grayed out, and there was no moving hourglass, no "working" text, no "saving" text; nothing to indicate that the app was indeed doing its thing correctly. So after about fifteen or so seconds of this, I hit the ole Ctrl-Alt-Delete sequence of keys and killed the program. I reopened the file and all my work was gone; I was looking at the original unmarked PDF; three hours at least of work lost. I tried various combinations of Save, like saving under a new file name, but the Save screen continued to go all gray. Finally I tried another Save and decided to just let the app run its course, with hopes that a Reader-specific error message would appear that I could research. After more than thirty seconds the all-gray Save screen closed and all was well with the world; the PDF had been saved. No problems, no errors, no crash.

It turns out that the only real problem here is the poorly designed Adobe Reader X user interface (UI) -- and the fact that the Save process takes exceedingly long. Had I been given some kind of indication that the program was working, I wouldn't have killed the file and lost all my work. (Plus, I tend to be impatient, alas....) Granted, I should have Saved the work earlier, so that's on me; yet I still don't understand why the built-in autosave didn't work, and why there was no autosaved file to restore.

The other issue I have with Reader X is that the user cannot customize the toolbar. So I do a lot of advanced searches and every time I need to do this, I must use the Edit menu to select Advanced Search, or enter the key combination Shift-Ctrl-F -- not an easy combination of keys to select in that order with one hand.

Bottom line: user beware; this is a heads up on the Save process should you upgrade to Adobe Reader X, and also to be prepared for the not-so-friendly UI.

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  1. Adobe must be full of idiots. Version 10 and they still can't get basics right. "Save As" typically crashes on my machine. They took away the ability to customize the topbar for some stupid reason, and force it to contain the useless "Comment" and "Share". And when you do an advanced find (shift+ctrl+f), why can't the pop-up window appear instantly? I takes ages to appear.

    There's also the annoying behavior of after zooming in, the initial panning has a tolerance which causes a big jump in panning. And there's no way to permanently not display the worthless navigation pane. And when you zoom way out, there's no way to display more than 2 pages wide, which is dumb because everyone has widescreen monitors now; MS Word has supported this since Word 97. 14 years later, Acrobat still can't do that. Idiots.

  2. Anonymous: I feel your pain! I run Adobe Reader X on my desktop, but refuse to upgrade on my laptop. I am, however, getting used to Reader X, but it's a negative "getting used to": I'm having to adjust the way I use the app in order to compensate for its failings.

    - marty

  3. To top it off, no matter how much feedback you submit telling them about problems, they're incapable of fixing them. A lot of big companies have this problem. You can very rarely get a company to do anything differently, no matter how good of a point you have and regardless of how easy it is to fix.

  4. And I'll second that....
    Cheers, again,
    - marty