Monday, September 1, 2003

Adobe Acrobat Reader for Palm OS 2.0 has room to grow


By Stephen Vance

In February 2002, when I wrote my first article for PalmPower Magazine about using expansion cards (at, the main motivator was the ability to carry documentation in my shirt pocket. Adobe Acrobat Reader for Palm OS addressed this problem by allowing me to download Adobe's PDF (Portable Document Format) files to my handheld.

That article looked at the 1.0 version of Adobe Acrobat Reader for Palm OS. However since that time, Adobe has released two more versions, 1.1 and 2.0. This article takes a closer look at the improvements that Adobe has made since then.

For the record, all of the tips and tricks from the previous article still work in your repertoire of Palm OS utilities. Although there has been a version of PDF2PDB.EXE released to accompany the new version, I have been unable to find it on Adobe's Web site as of this writing. Even the link to the search page result just brings you back to the main download page.

New features

Adobe has added a number of useful features since the first version. Most notably in the context of the previous article is the ability to directly load PDF files onto expansion cards. I have seen reports on the mailing lists of people having trouble with MultiMediaCards and Sony MemorySticks, but I have successfully used both Secure Digital and MultiMedia cards on my Palm m505 with no problems.

Another noteworthy feature, particularly on the Palm m505, is the support for color PDFs on color handhelds. When you first install the application, the desktop software recommends you set your color preferences automatically through a HotSync operation. You can reset them manually at any time through the preferences screen. You can repeat the automatic process by pressing the Get Best Settings button on the Preferences dialog.

One of the most common questions in the 1.X versions of Adobe Acrobat Reader for Palm OS was, "I didn't set any sort of encryption. Why is the software complaining that it can't convert an encrypted document?" If you look at the document security settings in a PDF file, you'll see a number of options that the author could set, including whether the document can be printed, changed, etc. If the author restricts any of these settings, the document becomes encrypted even if the author did not set an explicit encryption password. Early versions of Adobe Acrobat Reader for Palm OS would prevent such documents from being converted for transfer to the PDA. Adobe Acrobat Reader for Palm OS 2.0 allows you to view secured PDFs.