Hosting a Shared Review: An Alternative to Acrobat.com

An Acrobat Shared Review allows multiple people, in real time, to add notes and comments on a PDF. In order to do so, you need a server or shared resources such as SharePoint or a network folder. Both of these are great solutions for behind the firewall reviews.

To see a short video of how Shared Review works, click here.

Occasionally, you may need to have an open review with multiple participants or collaborate with others across multiple domains. For these open reviews, many of our customers used our Acrobat.com service which made the process simple.

In January 2014, we announced that Workspaces on Acrobat.com will be retired in January 2015.  That means that Acrobat.com will longer be an option for hosting Shared Reviews. Fortunately, Acrobat supports the WebDav protocol, so that is a great replacement for open reviews which were the forte of Acrobat.com.

I recently purchased a yearly subscription to an inexpensive webdav service from SqueakSoft webdav service. No particular reason, but that came up first in Google and it is only $6 per year.

You can, of course, use webdav on other hosting providers and cloud services.

Here’s how to get started with the SqueakSoft service and getting it working in Acrobat.

Purchase SqueakSoft

Go to SqueakSoft webdav service, then click on the Order Now link.

000_plan

 

In the next screen, enter your desired WebDav username.

001_signup

Add the service to your cart and complete the transaction. You will be asked to create an account to manage access to the WebDav service and you will also need to create a password for your WebDav service.

It might take a few minutes or more for the service to be activated.

Configuring Acrobat to use the WebDav Service

  1. Open a PDF you want to review in Acrobat
  2. Open the Comments pane, then Send for Shared Review002_send_shared_review

     

  3. From the menu, choose: Automatically collect comments on my own internal server003_shared_setup_1
  4. Click the Next button
  5. In the next screen: Choose Web server folder
  6.  Type in: http://webdavhost.net/YOURWEBDAVUSERNAME/
    (replace the all caps text above with the username you created on the SqueakSoft service)004_webdave_usernameYou will be prompted for your WebDav username (name you chose in the Cart screen above) and WebDav password.
  7. Click the Next button
  8. Click the Next button TWICE
  9. Name the Server Location anything you want, e.g.: SqueakSoft Open WebDav005_name_server 
  10. Click the Next button
  11. Fill in the email address for the reviewer(s)006_reviewer_names

     

  12. Click the Send button
    This will send the Review-enabled PDF via your default email client to reviewers.

What happens on the server?

Acrobat will create a small review folder on the WebDav server which allows all clients to sync comments to it:

007_webdav_stuff

Note, in the workflow above, I am suggesting that you email the document to your recipient rather than upload it to the WebDav server. This way, the WebDav server is only used to store the comments, not the document itself. SqueakSoft offers a huge amount bandwidth for a very small amount of money. If you are only using the service to sync the comments (my recommendation), then you would have enough space to conduct many thousands and thousand of reviews.

Each comment is saved as an obfuscated XML file. Anyone who would try to view the comments in a web browser by typing in http://webdavhost.net/YOURWEBDAVUSERNAME/ would be prompted for a log-in.

What is the Shared Review experience like for the recipient?

As part of the process above, the review PDF is emailed to your recipient.

When they open the PDF, they will see a message like this:

008_connect_message

The recipient clicks the Connect button, and then is presented some information about the review such as the Review Deadline, review team, etc.:

009_review_team

The document will open and your recipient can and respond to comments made by everyone on the team.

A status bar at the top allows users to publish and retrieve comments which are synchronized to the PDF document in real time:

010_status_bar

How do I find out more about Shared Review?

Here’s two QuickStart Guides. Enjoy!

Comment in a PDF file with Adobe® Acrobat® XI
adobe-acrobat-xi-comment-in-a-pdf-file-tutorial_ue

Send a PDF file for shared review with Adobe® Acrobat® XI
adobe-acrobat-xi-send-pdf-for-shared-review-tutorial-ue

7 Responses to Hosting a Shared Review: An Alternative to Acrobat.com

  1. Rick thank you so much! Heading over to that service right now.

  2. Tom says:

    Hi Rick,
    I have a question regarding Acrobat X redactions (apologies for commenting on this post, I realise it’s not related to redaction but the post I wanted to comment on doesn’t allow comments – http://blogs.adobe.com/acrolaw/2010/12/ricks-acrobat-x-redaction-guide)

    I have encountered a few PDF files where, when applying redactions, adobe blacks out the same area on all pages even though only one of the pages is marked for redaction. I’m not sure what is causing this; re-printing the file to PDF or reducing the image size prior to marking up and applying redactions does not get around this issue. The only way I have found to get around the issue is to image the document first then apply the redactions – this is not really an ideal solution. I was wondering if you could shed any light on this?

    Appreciate any help you can offer.
    Thanks,
    Tom

    • Rick Borstein says:

      That can happen if you accidentally hit “Apply to all Pages” by right clicking.

  3. Jay says:

    Rick, as ever you are one of the few Adobe blogs that are worth reading.
    Solid, usable content for the commercial world – as opposed to pointless fluff.
    Adobe are being very foolish in dumping Shared Review via acrobat.com – rather than just giving up on the innovative technology they should have re-thought their marketing of it.
    Acrobat.com is a dead duck unless they get some genuine innovation in there – SendNow, FormsCentral etc. are all pale imitations of the leading industry players and Adobe should stick to providing more unique services (like Shared Review worldwide via (whatever service they want to call it) which have a greater chance of succeeding.
    Thanks again for this great post which has provided an invaluable solution for us.

    • Rick Borstein says:

      I have to disagree with you. All of these services are available nicely under a single umbrella and nicely integrated with Reader and Acrobat.

  4. John Perumal says:

    Can user edit his previous comments?

    • Rick Borstein says:

      Yes, during a Shared Review, the “owner” of a comment may change or delete their previous comments.