Tips and Techniques for Deployment and Patching of Acrobat

Adobe recently released security updates to Acrobat and Adobe Reader 7, 8 and 9.

Large Life Science corporations centrally distribute software to users, most often on the Windows platform.

In this article, I’ll discuss the tools and techniques that are available to help IT personnel deploy and update versions of Acrobat 7, 8 and 9, including the free Adobe Reader.

First, I’ll show you where you can download the apps and our tools for deployment. In the full article, I’ll discuss how to “chain” installs, expand Adobe Reader, and use the Adobe Customization Wizard to streamline installation.

Get the Updates and the Deployment Tools

Various updates are available depending on the version of Acrobat and/or Reader you have installed. To make it easier to customize Acrobat, Adobe offers installation tools which help you remove earlier versions of Acrobat, serialize the product, and set a wide variety of program options.

The links below are for Windows versions. Mac Acrobat users can find updates here.

Acrobat and Adobe Reader 9.1

Acrobat 9.1

Acrobat Standard and Pro 9.1 Update (Windows)

Acrobat Pro Extended 9.1 Update (Windows)

Adobe Reader 9.1

Adobe Reader Enterprise Edition (Windows)
The enterprise edition of Reader does not include Adobe AIR or installations. Many firms don’t want to install these anyway.

Installation Tool for Acrobat 9

Adobe Acrobat 9 Customization Wizard (Windows, FREE)
Use this tool to remove Acrobat/Reader 7 or 8 and above and to customize program options. The result is a custom transform file to use with the deployment tool of your choice.


Acrobat and Adobe Reader 8.1.4

Acrobat 8.1.4

Update for Acrobat 8.13 Standard and Professional

Previous Acrobat 8.x Updates available here.

Adobe Reader 8.1.4

Adobe Reader 8.1.4 Update (Windows)

Adobe Reader 8.1.3 Full Installation (Windows) is available from the Reader Download Center

Installation Tool for Acrobat 8

Adobe Acrobat 8 Customization Wizard (Windows, FREE)


Acrobat 7.1.1 and Adobe Reader 7.1.1

Acrobat 7.x

Acrobat 7.1.1 Standard and Pro Update (Windows)
This will update an Acrobat 7.1.0 installation.

Previous Acrobat 7.x updates available here.

Adobe Reader 7.x

Adobe Reader 7.11 Update
This will update an Adobe Reader 7.10 installation.

Installation Tool for Acrobat 7

InstallShield Tuner for Acrobat 7.0 (Windows, FREE)
This product allows you to install and deploy Acrobat 7 and Adobe Reader 7.

Adobe generally does not issue complete, new packages for dot releases, so it’s important to properly “chain” these installs. I’ll also discuss how to expand the Adobe Reader to make it installable, and discuss the Acrobat Customization Wizard and other resources available. Read on for this information.

NOTE: If you receive my blog via email, make sure you click on the article title to read it on my blog.

Chaining Installations of Acrobat 9.1

Say you’re a large Adobe customer and have a license for Acrobat 9.0. You’re just about ready to deploy the software and you hear about a security update. How do you deploy both the original 9.0 release and the 9.1 patch?

In order to push down both the base product and updates, you need to "chain" installations together. This can help you avoid reboots on the user systems and significantly reduce deployment time.

Chaining Installations of Acrobat 9.1

Download this preliminary document (Acrobat 9.1 Chaining Instructions) to learn how to chain installations. I suspect Adobe will have an official Knowledge Base article on this soon.

Chaining Installations of Acrobat 8.1.4

See this tech note: Install all Acrobat 8 patches in one step with Adobe Bootstrapper and patch sequencing

Chaining Installations of Acrobat 7.x

Download Chaining Together Acrobat/Reader 7.0 to 7.0.3 for Enterprise Deployment (PDF)

Expanding the Adobe Reader

When you download the Adobe Reader, it is in a highly compressed format provided by NetOpsystems (NOSSO). Follow the instructions in Extracting the Adobe Reader 9.x MSI installer for enterprise deployment to create an MSI to install.

Acrobat 9 Customization Wizard: What does it do?

The Customization Wizard eases the task of customizing the installation of Acrobat for your organization. Using it,
you can easily modify the installer via a transform file (MST file) without altering the original package (MSI file).

Here are a few things you can do:

  • Set up silent installation and pre-serialization
  • Remove previous versions of Acrobat and Reader
  • Install additional languages
  • Suppress the EULA and registration prompts
  • Customize key application preferences — turn off automatic updates, add and set default job options, and customize collaboration and security settings
  • Push down your organization’s settings for stamps, watermarks and backgrounds
  • Remove shortcuts from the desktop and the Start menu
  • Edit each Adobe Acrobat application’s registry and installer tables
  • Customize file attachment handling within PDF files, including specifying which file types you want to block
  • Add or edit files that will be installed, including customized JavaScript or plug-ins
  • Deploy custom Portfolio navigators

What settings should be pushed down?

There is no rule that fits every organization. Some research into your user base is helpful to find out what features they are using. If you have a trainer on staff for Acrobat, you should consult with them. A few suggestions for the life science community:

  • PDF Maker  and Distiller Settings
    Various countries have standards for the PDF Version for regulatory filings. In the US and most of the world, PDF 1.4 is required.

  • Custom Stamps
    Do you use custom stamps with your company logo, etc.? You can push these down to all users by placing the stamp file in the appropriate directory.

  • Headers and Footers
    You can push down a default set of Header/Footer stamps to match those used by your regulatory personnel.

  • Watermarks
    An important security step is to watermark documents to alert readers about the confidential or publish status of documents. For example, you might add a "Confidential" watermark to certain documents or a "Draft" watermark to document which are not yet ready for publication. It’s much easier to walk a user through how to use preset watermarks than to create them from scratch.

  • Review and Data Collection Servers
    You can set up pointers to internal review servers (SharePoint or Network folders) which allow your users to easily take advantage of
    Shared Review and Form Data Collection in Acrobat.

  • Security and Digital Signature Settings
    You can set up Acrobat to use LDAP servers where you store PKI credentials or enable SAFE signatures.

  • Language Files
    What languages do your users need to read documents or create them? The customization wizard allows you to choose which font sets are needed.

How do I learn about the Customization Wizard and Deploying Acrobat?

My colleague Joel Geraci is Adobe’s Acrobat Technical Evangelist.

Joel offers a very nice deployment toolkit on his IT Matters blog which includes documentation and video instruction for deploying Acrobat 9. In this toolkit, you’ll find:

  • Deploying Adobe Acrobat and Reader 9
    Video presentation on deploying Acrobat 9.
  • Acrobat 9 Security Administration Guide
  • Adobe Acrobat 9 Deployment on Citrix Presentation Server
  • Customization Wizard 9 Datasheet
  • Adobe Acrobat 9 Deployment on Microsoft Windows Group Policy and the Active Directory service
  • Adobe Acrobat 9 Deployment on Microsoft Systems Management Server
  • Adobe Acrobat 9 Deployment on Microsoft Windows Terminal Services

Joel has also recorded an on-demand which covers Acrobat 8.

Acrobat 8 Customization Tool eSeminar on Demand (45 min)

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