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Delivering Rich Internet Applications with Adobe Acrobat

By Matthew David

Acrobat has the capability to support rich media such as video, Flash and Web links. In this article you will learn how you can embed video and Flash movies into your Acrobat PDF files and add links to Web pages.

The benefit of using Acrobat to send documents
Adobe's Acrobat has evolved dramatically from its origins as an easily shared image of a document. Today you can send richly formatted proposals using Acrobat's universal PDF format. PDF documents can include links to Web pages, embedded video, Flash applications and forms. In other words, you can add to Acrobat many of the features you find on the Web, but with one big advantage: you do not need the Web or any Web browser to view a richly formatted PDF - you just need Adobe Acrobat Reader 9.

Unlike the Web, you can send your Adobe Acrobat files in email, on a CD or given to a friend on a USB drive. As long as they have Adobe Acrobat Reader, then they can view the file. The good news is that the chances are high that your end user already has Adobe Acrobat Reader. What this means is that you can now start spicing up your PDF documents to include more than just pictures. With Adobe's Acrobat Professional Extended Edition you can add the rich media features that have been only available on the Internet.


Embedding Video
Adobe introduced the ability to link video files to Acrobat several releases back. The problem you had is that you needed to ship both the PDF and video files. The video will not play if you forget the additional files. To make up for this issue, in Acrobat 9 you can now embed a whole video into Acrobat.

As you might expect from Adobe, inserting video into a PDF file is very easy. The first step is that you need to have a video file (Acrobat will support most video file formats such as AVI, MOV, WMV, MPG, and MP4). Using the Multimedia selector, choose Video Tool.

The way in which the video is embedded is a sneaky trick. The video is converted into Flash Video format (the newer MP4/H.264 video format). The video tool is the heart and soul of this action. Essentially, the video tool is a video converter that takes your original video file and converts it into the Flash Video format.

The video tool does have advanced settings that enable you to control the data conversion, image quality and audio quality. For the most part, however, you can use the default settings.
Once converted, the video is place on screen inside of the PDF. A small play button is located in the bottom left hand corner. You can select the video at any time to play it back. Simple VCR-like controls allow pausing, playing and fast forwarding for any video.

The video is now part of the PDF. This means you do not need to send multiple files when you send the PDF.
Inserting Flash Movies
With Acrobat 9 you can now embed Flash movies as well as video. There is a caveat: Acrobat 9 only supports Flash 9 and earlier movies. Flash 10 will not work.
Insert a single SWF Flash movie is the same as inserting a video. You do need to use a valid SWF Flash movie. Acrobat 9 Reader has the Flash Player built directly into the product so you can send the PDF to people who do not even have Flash installed on their computer.
For more advanced Flash movies that use XML data, external Flash video files and other additional files (such as JPEG, PNG, MP3, etc.) you can also select a whole folder structure and import that directly into Acrobat.

Finally, because you can use Flash in your PDF files, you can have the Flash movies connect to Web based services such as Web Services and XML. As an example, you can deliver a blog/RSS feed to a Flash movie inserted into your PDF.
Packaging it all together (2D, Forms, and Scripting)
Acrobat is now turning into a true RIA first class citizen. With better video and now support for Flash, along with continued support for 3D, Forms and Scripting, you can build complex solutions directly into highly portable document format. Acrobat is no longer a static solution.

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Matthew has written four Flash books, contributed to a dozen Web books, and has published over 400 articles. He is passionate about exposing Internet's potential for all of us. Matthew works directly with many companies as a business strategist coaching IT architects and business leaders to work tightly with each other towards common goals.
Related Keywords:adobe acrobat video, flash video PDF, Embedding Video


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