Adobe Acrobat XI Pro PDF software is by no means new (it launched in 2012) but it's still the latest version, and here we review Acrobat XI Pro against its current competition. See all: Business productivity software reviews.
As the flagship product of the company that devised PDF, Acrobat XI Pro is the package against which other PDF editors tend to be compared. It’s also the most expensive by a significant margin, but is its reputation justified and, for that matter, does it really represent good value for money?
Since XI Pro was released over two years ago this hints at a mature product with little in the way of useful features still to be added. Somewhat unusually, then, one feature is in the process of being withdrawn: integration with FormsCentral. This was a subscription-based service for the creation and management of online forms. Adobe says this is being retired due to lack of support and to allow the company to concentrate on mainstream PDF creation.
Although we’ve referred to Adobe Acrobat XI Pro as a PDF Editor, as with most packages it also allows you to create the file in the first place. This is achieved in two ways. First there’s a print driver so you can print a document, as you would to a real printer, but the end result is the creation of a PDF file.
Second, additional toolbars are added to Microsoft Office applications and creating a PDF this way offers several addition features such as combining multiple Office documents into a single PDF, preserving links, mail merging and more.
In terms of the advanced features that are found in professional PDF editors, XI Pro support digital signatures that add a graphical representation of your signature; ID certification that allows a recipient to verity that a PDF really came from you and hasn't subsequently been altered; a means by which several authors can review a document and add their comments; and the ability to create forms that can then be filled in within the document.
Editing features are extensive and easy to use. In addition to editing text in a line, you can add, move, and resize text blocks and images, and change fonts attributes. Acrobat XI Pro doesn't have all of InDesign's precise text adjustments, but it does offer vertical and horizontal line spacing and basic character spacing. You can find and replace text but not replace all instances in one fell swoop. Because of the PDF format, though, and in common with all PDF editors, text with advanced formatting may be presented in boxes with no text wrapping to the next box. This means that while minor edits can be carried out with ease, carrying out major amendments to a PDF file isn’t feasible if the document has a lot of sophisticated formatting.
Acrobat XI Pro's interface looks very much the same as it did in the previous version, though you can create and save custom tool sets and export them. You can download custom tool sets that others have created, too.
Acrobat XI Pro's merging capabilities are good, too. You see a preview of most documents and can rearrange them in a scalable icon view, see what every page of each document looks like and set which pages of a document are included in the final exported file. You can also transform PDFs into editable Microsoft PowerPoint presentations.
If you don't need the advanced features in the Pro version there's a Standard version which you can find for under £300. The Student and Teacher edition of XI Pro costs just £75. Alternatively you can subscribe to Acrobat XI Pro (Adobe's Creative Cloud system) for £17.75 per month.