Review: Adobe Persuasion 4.0
Readers of my regular monthly column, Apples, Kids & Attitude, are aware of my personal liking for many of the software products released by Adobe Systems. As a long-time Mac user that has watched Adobe Systems for many years, I can remember when the company was known less for its graphics software such as Photoshop or Illustrator, and known more for being the company that helped launch the desktop publishing revolution through the development of the PostScript technology. Back then when you thought of Adobe you thought of fonts - hundreds of them! The company literally changed the way we communicate with words. Now, the company's products impact the way we create, manipulate and present images, and the way we combine images with text.
Not too long ago, Adobe Systems acquired a software company called Aldus (the "official" term used was merger). Whatever the business combination may have been called, the net effect was that Adobe added to its product line the powerful page layout software called PageMaker, along with a few other applications that were part of the Aldus portfolio. One of the other applications acquired from Aldus was a piece of presentation software called Persuasion. Just recently Adobe Systems released a major upgrade to Persuasion (version 4.0). I'm happy to have the opportunity to evaluate this updated package for ATPM's readers.
As I mentioned earlier, I very much like the software products released by Adobe Systems. One of the reason for this is that each of the software applications works well alone, but also works well (virtually seamlessly) with other applications in the Adobe line. For example, I like the way that Photoshop images can be brought into my PageMill documents. I'm also impressed with the way the latest versions of Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator work with one another. As of this writing I'm eagerly awaiting my upgrade to PageMaker 6.5. I plan to do some of my more sophisticated web page design work in PageMaker.
In my view, any evaluation of an Adobe design, layout or presentation package must be considered not just as a stand-alone product, but also as a product that is specifically positioned in the Adobe product line so as to work as part of a complete design, layout and presentation solution. The way that Adobe applications work with one another I believe is a real "value added" benefit to users. The ability to quickly and easily move text, graphics or even whole documents from one Adobe application to another — sometimes to different file formats — without hitch or glitch is a real plus for today's professional designers, business users, teachers, students and many home users. Not only does this ability save time, but it can also extend the usefulness and increase the versatility of one's work.
With all this in mind, I took a look at the new version of Persuasion 4.0. Before I even opened the box I knew that one of the more important features, especially for people who currently use Microsoft's PowerPoint for presentations, is that Persuasion comes with a conversion utility for PowerPoint. This utility will allow people the opportunity to use Persuasion's powerful features to update and revise presentations that have been created using PowerPoint by converting them to Persuasion presentations. A second important feature of 4.0 is that each retail package of Persuasion comes with two fully licensed versions of itself - one for Macintosh and one for Windows. For those of you who work in multi-platform environments, this is a real plus. It will allow you to use Persuasion and Persuasion files on both Mac and Windows based machines.
Among the other "goodies" included in the CD-ROM package are: Adobe Acrobat Distiller 3.0, Adobe Acrobat Reader 3.0 (also available for free downloading from the Adobe Web site), more than 100 auto templates and over 500 editable color clip art files, Adobe Type Manager, and 20 free fonts. Like most everyone, I like extras in my software packages — especially items that can help me improve my work or the manner in which my work is presented, on screen and on the Web. The CD-ROM also also includes Persuasion Player which provides you with the ability to distribute presentations to people who don't own a copy of Persuasion by exporting your work as a Player file.
My first step in the evaluation process for any sophisticated application is how quickly I can be "up and running" with the new software. My second step in the evaluation process is determining how soon I'm reasonably satisfied with the appearance of my work while following the the user guidelines. I rely on Adobe products to be usable at varying levels of experience and skill. Adobe Persuasion was no exception. Within just a few minutes of working with the tutorial, I felt comfortable working with the software. The illustration below is a screen shot from my computer while using the application's tutorial. It shows an Adobe Illustrator graphic (the Zebra T-shirt) being added directly into a presentation. Persuasion does allow for native Photoshop files, with layers intact, and native Illustrator files to be imported directly into presentations.
Secondly, I liked the menus and palettes (The colors, layers and lines palettes can be seen in the above image.) and the ability to easily format data into presentation form. In addition, Adobe Persuasion allows you to drag and drop graphic or text-based web links from a web browser directly into presentations. In fact, you could build an entire web site using Adobe Persuasion (More on this a little later.).
As I began to work more and more with the software, it becomes quite apparent, as I suspected, that with this this latest update to Adobe Persuasion, the company had positioned this product as an important presentation tool that not only works well on its own, but it also integrates well with Adobe's design-related software. The look and feel of the product (including, for example, the user interface, the layers palette and the menu organization), have become more consistent with other Adobe products. New features also allow users to incorporate movies and sounds in their presentations, and there is a single-step export of presentations to Acrobat's PDF format.
As with most of Adobe's products, I was impressed by the ease with which I was able to use Persuasion from the moment I opened the box. Add to this the auto templates and the easy-to-follow tutorial, and I was quite satisfied by my ability to work confidently with the application. I believe that users who invest the time working with Persuasion will develop a real proficiency with this application within a short period of time.
Persuasion does rely on Adobe Acrobat's PDF (Portable Document Format) for web versions of its presentations. Several web browsers can view PDF documents, and the format has some advantages over HTML in that you have the ability to control text flow and the positioning of graphics. However, the reliance on PDF for web versions of presentations may be a drawback to some buyers.
The Adobe-Aldus combination provided Adobe Systems with the opportunity to pursue an important goal — to transform electronic communication in the same manner that it transformed print communication. Persuasion 4.0 is an additional resource from Adobe that can help you effectively present words, images (and even moving pictures) on screen and on the Web.
Persuasion 4.0. No Arm-Twisting Needed!