ADBC Now Disabled by Default

Ever since the release of Acrobat 8.0 last November and, more recently, the Acrobat 7.0.9 update (for those still using Acrobat 7.x), I’ve had a few inquires about forms using ADBC (Acrobat DataBase Connectivity) that suddenly stop working.

The source of the problem is likely the fact that Acrobat 7.0.9 and 8.0 now disable ADBC by default, regardless of whether you were using it prior to the update or not. The reason behind this change is that ADBC poses a sizeable security risk as it doesn’t provide any mechanism to protect the databases it accesses from malicious use.

Although I wish the installation programs for Acrobat 7.0.9 and 8.0 would’ve warned users that ADBC was being disabled and provided them with information on re-enabling it rather than silently disabling it and causing people a lot of grief, I think disabling ADBC when it isn’t needed is much safer than leaving it enabled in case you ever need it.

Alternatively, you may choose to migrate to ODBC data connections in XFA forms (which you can save as PDF files for use in Acrobat). Since these are still enabled in Acrobat 7.0.9/8.0 and also make use of DSNs to locate and access databases, the migration should be relatively seamless to the people using your forms. Please note, however, that exposing a database to any type of audience always creates a certain security risk which should be assessed and addressed accordingly. You might consider creating a web service to act as the bridge between the database and your form (where your form retrieves data from and pushes data into a database via methods provided by a web service), thereby restricting access to your database’s structure and data.

For those needing to (re-)enable ADBC, the Acrobat 8 SDK Readme contains information on how to do that.
For your convenience, here is the excerpt which contains the instructions (as they were stated on December 13, 2006):

ADBC Support

Acrobat Database Connectivity (ADBC) can now be turned on and off via a registry setting. To activate ADBC, create a registry key of type DWORD with the name “bJSEnable” and a value of “true” (1) in the following location:

HKEY_CURRENT_USER\SOFTWARE\Adobe\Adobe Acrobat\8.0\ADBC

This activates ADBC in Acrobat 8.0. In previous releases of Acrobat, ADBC was active by default. In Acrobat 8.0, this setting has been changed to require user intervention to activate ADBC because most users do not want to have ADBC accessible from PDF.

Windows shell command to activate ADBC:

reg add “HKEY_CURRENT_USER\SOFTWARE\Adobe\Adobe Acrobat\8.0\ADBC” /v bJSEnable /t REG_DWORD /d 1

For Acrobat 7.0.9 users, simply change all instances of "8.0" to "7.0" in the above instructions.

Please note that since ADBC poses a security risk (as outlined earlier), Adobe does not recommend modifying the registry to re-enable this feature. Also note that ADBC is still only available via Acrobat Standard or Professional and on Windows only. The Adobe Reader does not have the ability to use ADBC.