When Adobe Acrobat first arrived on the scene 10 years ago, it was one of a number of technologies for creating digital replicas of paper documents. Among the competitors were Envoy from WordPerfect and Tumbleweed, Replica from Farallon Computing (now part of Proxim) , and Common Ground from No Hands Software. Each had its own set of advantages, but — whether or not it was the best solution — Adobe’s product won out. Now in its sixth major revision, Acrobat software has been downloaded hundreds of millions of times and is available on nearly every computer. So, who would even think of challenging its dominance? What other company could hope to create a technology as ubiquitous as Acrobat?
How about Macromedia? Their Flash plugin is available on nearly every operating system and plugs in to almost every browser in existence. If any web browser add-on has penetrated more deeply into the market than Acrobat, it is Flash.
Quietly bundled with its new Contribute 2 product is a new technology called FlashPaper.
Macromedia FlashPaper printer driver technology for Windows 2000 and XP lets Contribute 2 customers transform any printable document into a compact, web-friendly Macromedia Flash format and then embed the document as an intrinsic part of a web page. The end result is an unbeatable document viewing experience for website visitors.
Unlike the 16 Megabyte download size for Adobe Reader (the new name for the free Adobe Acrobat reader), the FlashPaper format is viewable with the latest version of the Flash Player, which weighs in at only 405Kb for Windows. In addition, FlashPaper is embeddable within a web-page, just like any other Flash movie. Granted, Acrobat is very powerful in publishing, indexing, searching and managing digital paper. But, for simple viewing of digital representations of paper documents onscreen, Macromedia might just give Adobe a run for its money.