For a long time, Acrobat was Adobe’s flagship desktop application for working with, and especially editing, PDF files. In recent years, the company released Acrobat on the web, but it was never as full-featured as the desktop version, and one capability that many users were looking for, editing text and images in PDF files, remained a desktop-only feature. Now that’s changing with its latest update to Acrobat on the web, Adobe is bringing exactly this capability to its online service.
“Acrobat Web is strategically important to us because we have more and more people working in the browser,” said Todd Gerber, Adobe vice president for Document Cloud. “Their day starts by logging into G Suite or Microsoft Office 365. That’s why we want to be on every surface where people are doing their work.” The team first launched the ability to create and convert PDF files, but as Gerber noted, it took a while to get to the point where it was possible to edit PDF files in an efficient, real-time manner. “We could have done it earlier, but it wouldn’t have been up to the standards of speed, agility and quality.” Specifically, he noted that working with fonts was one of the most difficult problems the team faced in bringing this capability online.
He also noted that while we tend to think of PDF as an Adobe format, it is an open standard and many third-party tools can create PDF files. That large ecosystem, with the potential for variations between implementations, also makes it more difficult to provide editing capabilities for Adobe.
With the new release, Adobe is also introducing a couple of additional browser-based features: protect PDF files, split PDF files in two, and combine multiple PDF files. In addition, after working with Google last year to offer a set of Acrobat shortcuts using the .new domain, Adobe is now releasing a set of new shortcuts as EditPDF.new. The company plans to roll out more of these later this year.
In total, Adobe says, the company saw about 10 million clicks on its existing shortcuts, which just goes to show how many people try to convert or sign PDF files every day.
As Gerber pointed out, many potential users don’t necessarily think of Acrobat first. Instead, what they want to do is compress a PDF or convert it. Acrobat Web and .new domains help the company bring a new audience to the platform. “It’s opening up a new audience for us that initially didn’t think of Adobe. They think about PDF files, they think about what they need to do with them. So it allows us to expand our customer base by being relevant to how they are looking to discover and ultimately transact. Our journey with Acrobat Web really started with that notion: let’s go after unbranded search.
Adobe, of course, funnels all branded searches where users explicitly search for Acrobat into the Acrobat desktop application, but for the more casual user, it takes them to Acrobat Web, where they can easily perform whatever action they came for without even logging in.