Virtual meetings can make a real-world difference

On September 16, RJ Jácquez, Senior Product Evangelist for the Adobe Technical Communication Suite, presented a remote meeting for the Society for Technical Communication Canada West Coast chapter. His involvement actually went above and beyond a mere sales pitch. RJ hosted the entire meeting through Acrobat Connect Pro, which combined a live video feed from our meeting location, prerecorded audio and video files stored on the Connect server, and his own presentation about the enhancements to the Adobe Technical Communication Suite for version 1.3. As part of the A/V team I was stoked to try out this technology. I wrote an article about our rehearsal for Coast Lines, the newsletter of the STC Canada West Coast chapter.

In that article I wrote that I felt:

…a discussion of FrameMaker, Robohelp, Captivate, and Acrobat may possibly be completely overshadowed by Adobe’s Acrobat Connect web conferencing system built on the AIR platform.

Well, Adobe Connect is very cool. I am intrigued by how well the technology enables a user to host webinars without having to download any additional software. Any user can create an account on www.adobe.com that gives them their own unique “Connectnow beta” URL to share with up to three participants at a time. Users can share desktops and specific applications, and run virtual meetings just like the one we held tonight, only on a much smaller scale. (In response to a remote member’s question, users can purchase a subscription to the Pro version if they need more resources. At the time of this writing, it’s only $39 USD/month.)

Adobe Technical Communication Suite

Adobe Technical Communications Suite

However, the major breakthrough for Adobe is how well the AIR platform integrates not only Adobe-branded applications like FrameMaker, Acrobat, RoboHelp, and Flash, but also embeds files created in other applications into a single file. Adobe is well-known in the world of multimedia, so of course embedded Acrobat 3D, audio, and video files play well. However, I was not expecting how well it integrated even Microsoft Office files. I really shouldn’t be surprised—after all, AIR is an acronym for Adobe Integrated Runtime.

Last year I won a ticket to attend the Massive Technology Show through a draw at an STC meeting. As part of the conference I got to attend a mind-blowing workshop on Adobe’s fledgling Flex and Apollo platform for building Rich Internet Applications (RIA). Even though I took notes back then, I don’t have a clue what I got myself into. That platform eventually became Adobe AIR, and it “AIRs” on the side of extreme coolness.

But wait, there’s more. That very same integration that makes AIR such a delight also exists in the ubiquitous Acrobat format as well. Now a PDF is no longer just a means to preserve your fonts and layout in a print-like version of your document. Now you can embed user-interactive 3D models from virtually any 3D CAD design software, Flash SWF applications, video, audio, and live Internet streams, into a PDF portfolio.

For this reason, coupled with the Connectnow live meeting, file sharing, and more web site, I’m so glad I waited to update my Technical Communication PDF portfolio. Right now it only contains a few projects I completed in my Writing and Testing Software Manuals class at BCIT. Acrobat Pro Extended ver. 9 provides a wizard that I can use to create a PDF portfolio that includes samples of all sorts of work I’ve done: graphics, movies, flash, audio, spreadsheets, web application prototypes—there is no end to what I could do.

So, RJ: if you’re reading this, any chance I could buddy up to you and score a copy of the Adobe Technical Communications Suite so I can write a review? You have my email address. I’ll be waiting.