Smaller, faster, better? Quick C&I changes

I’m assuming a fairly large overlap between readers here and Cites & Insights readers. (Psst: If you’re not reading Cites & Insights, you should be.)

Until I moved to a notebook computer, Vista and Office2007 early this year, I’d been using Adobe Acrobat 5 to generate the PDFs for C&I (and for my books). I never found satisfactory reasons to pay the $100 for each upgrade from 6 through 8.

Vista: OK. Office2007: Not so much

I tried loading Acrobat 5 under Vista. Yes, it’s compatible–but it’s not really compatible with Word2007, and insisted on inserting itself in a manner that was worse than useless. So I deleted Acrobat 5 and loaded the free Microsoft upgrade to add PDF capability to Office2007 programs.

Since then, I’ve been generating Cites & Insights directly from Word, with good results–but I did notice that the PDF sizes seemed somewhat larger this year, even discounting the generally-longer issues.

Along comes Acrobat 9

I became aware that, for certain projects, I really would need Acrobat in the near future. Prime example: As far as I know, it’s the only program that can reliably take multiple existing PDF files and create a new PDF from them.

I’d also heard that Acrobat 9 does a better job of optimizing file size and web load time than its competitors or earlier versions.

So, biting the $300 bullet ($270 at Fry’s after I pointed out that price on Fry’, I purchased it this morning. Quick installation, and Acrobat 7 creates a PDF printer rather than inserting itself directly into Office2007 programs.

Just for fun, half an hour before going off to lunch, I tried rebuilding the current issue (November 2008, Volume 8, Number 11) using the PDF printer and compared the size to the existing PDF.

Wow. The existing file was 500K. The new one was 299K. That’s a 40% reduction in size.

So, over the space of five minutes, I opened and “printed” each of the other ten 2008 issues–then, in another couple of minutes, uploaded the eleven new PDFs.

They’re not all 40% smaller…but, with one exception, they’re all at least 25%-30% smaller. The interesting thing here is that at least the first three 2008 issues were generated using Acrobat 5, so it appears that Acrobat 9 also produces significantly smaller files than its long-ago predecessor.

Smaller is always better for web documents, even if 500K isn’t particularly huge.

As far as I know…

The new PDFs should yield identical output to the old ones.

If that’s not true–specifically, if the body type has changed or been screwed up–I trust someone will tell me. I’ve had someone check already (I can’t really test this on my computer: It’s an issue of whether or not Adobe is properly embedding typefaces, and if you have those typefaces on your computer, it doesn’t matter), so I’m fairly comfortable…but I could always restore the old ones (or tweak Acrobat settings) if I’m wrong.

Don’t think I’ll go back beyond January 2008. Meanwhile, it’s a nice little savings, even if it came at a price that I now find noticeable. Oh–and Acrobat “prints” the PDF within Word faster than Word prepared a PDF.

2 Responses to “Smaller, faster, better? Quick C&I changes”

  1. ash966 Says:

    Maybe I am misunderstanding, but doesn’t CutePDF do that:

    We recently had it installed at work, and it’s been very handy.


  2. walt Says:

    CutePDF, the free version does not. CutePDF Pro might, according to the website–might combine multiple PDFs into a single PDF, that is. I haven’t seen a review that satisfied me this was true; maybe I spent more than I needed to.

    (I’d looked at the boxes and websites of several “competitors,” and when I drilled down enough, I found that they really didn’t combine PDFs. Maybe I missed CutePDF.)

    On the other hand, I strongly suspect no competitor can compress a PDF file as effectively as Adobe–you’d expect that. And the 40% difference from Microsoft’s tool is pretty astounding.

    (Actually, 40% may be low. On the book I’m working on, Word’s PDF output produced a 3.2MB file–there are lots of charts. Acrobat produced a 1.2MB file.)

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