Adobe Systems on Saturday will be unveiling a slightly sleeker version of its Acrobat.com hosted-application service.
The site, which combines a number of tools, including word processing, PDF conversion, spreadsheets, and live Web meetings, has been reworked with a new architecture the company says will help it scale beyond its 6 million existing users. Currently, it is garnering about 100,000 sign-ups a week, with about half those coming from the United States.
Saturday's release includes 35 new features, all of which have been suggested by Adobe's customers through its Reddit-like Ideas page, which lets anyone vote up or down user-generated suggestions. The most notable addition is a new organizer, which consolidates all of the user's files and projects saved on Adobe's servers.
In a phone call with CNET earlier this month, Acrobat.com Director of Project Management Rick Treitman, said the organizer was the No. 1 most requested user feature. "It used to be confusing. We had three organizers, or places where users could organize files. Now there's one," he said.
The new file organizer adds some subtle changes, the most apparent being a white background, which goes against the company's infatuation with using black or dark-gray backgrounds in its products, but which makes it easier to differentiate the text and file types. Treitman said users overwhelmingly complained about it being too dark and hard to read.
Users also wanted a way to search through their files, Treitman said, so the company has added file-searching capability, albeit at a limited capacity. You can, for example, search by file name, but not within the contents of each individual file, something Treitman says is planned for a future release.
Other organizational niceties include a way to create lists, which Treitman compared to the playlist feature in Apple's iTunes software, since you can add files to multiple lists without changing their organization in your main file explorer. Files can either be dragged and dropped into these lists, or added through a right-click contextual menu.
Along with improvements to Acrobat.com, Adobe is also launching its first mobile application for the site, designed for iPhones and BlackBerry handsets. The app itself was actually built by ScanR, and it looks about the same as the company's existing mobile tool. It lets users view and convert any file they have stored on Adobe's servers, as well as convert it into a PDF or send it as a fax. Users can also snap a photo with their camera and have it sent straight to their Adobe storage.
Treitman told us the next big plan for Acrobat.com is to add a work spaces feature that offers an area in which multiple users can collaborate on documents at once and keep track of any changes made. This should bode well for the company's business users, who may have been wooed by tools from Google or Box.net, the latter of which is doing more and more to keep its users within the confines of its file storage service with features like a built-in document editor and a news feed that tracks collaborators' changes.
The new features will not change the price of Adobe's Acrobat.com paid services, which run anywhere from $15 a month to $390 a year, depending on which of the two plans users choose.