Using Adobe CQ5 as a repository for Acrobat Shared Reviews

Acrobat has a great feature called Shared Reviews, which allows an Acrobat Pro user to send a PDF to one or more people for their comments while allowing each of the reviewers to see all of the comments that had been made by all of the other reviewers. While the default method in Acrobat 9 and X is to use Acrobat.com as the repository, it is possible to use another server, such as Adobe CQ5, as the repository.

In a shared review, Acrobat needs two things: a PDF that has been prepared to receive comments and share them with other reviewers, and a network location that all of the reviewers can access for storing the comments. In a Shared Review, the comments are stored in a comment repository that is disconnected from the PDF itself. Acrobat uses this methodology so that it can always check with the repository to determine whether there are new comments that have been added to the PDF while you were away from it. It is very important that the repository be in a network location that is accessible to everyone, and that means using a WebDAV server. Why WebDAV? WebDAV shares use a path that looks the same on all operating systems, which is not the case for a SMB, AFP, or other operating system specific file system protocols. In addition, it is not necessary to mount the remote volume in order to communicate with it, since WebDAV has a number of file system access features that can be used through standard web calls. Acrobat knows this, so it does not need to mount the repository in order to use it for shared reviews.

To begin, we need to create a folder in CQ5 that will act as the repository for reviews. It is important that this repository be somewhat obfuscated to the casual user, so it is good to put it inside of a universal access folder that sits inside of an admin access folder. For instance, if I made a top level folder in the DAM called acrobat_reviews and inside of that another folder called repository, I would set the permissions on acrobat_reviews so that only the administrators can see it, and I would set the permissions on the repository folder so that everyone can read and write. You can also create a folder elsewhere in the repository that’s not in /var/dam. This is handy because it prevents Adobe Drive users from seeing the repository at all when they mount CQ DAM through Adobe Drive. Of course, you will want to consult your CQ system administrator to ensure that your repository location and permissions abide by your corporate policies.

Create a new folder in CRXDE LiteLet’s create a folder outside of CQ DAM and use it as our repository for Acrobat shared reviews. You will need a CQ5 Author instance to which you have administrative access and Acrobat X or a version of Acrobat that supports shared reviews. First, open up CRXDE Lite. You can create a folder other ways, but using CRXDE Lite is quick and only requires a web browser.

Navigate to the root of your CQ system, right-click on the root, and choose Create>Create Folder.

Name that folder acrobat_reviews. Right click on “acrobat_reviews” and choose Create>Create Folder again, and then name this new folder “repository”. The path bar should now show /acrobat_reviews/repository.

You’re not done yet, though, because the changes to the repository haven’t been written. You must click the “Save All” button to save the repository changes.

Now, let’s set permissions for the folders. Recall that we want to forbid access to the acrobat_reviews folder but allow access to the repository folder. In this example, we will use the user known as anonymous. You might want to use your LDAP or Active Directory groups to govern access, for instance, assuming that you have connected your LDAP or Active Directory system to your CQ instance. To set permissions, we need to use the CQ User Manager, otherwise known as CQ Security. Return to your CQ author instance landing page and click the User Manger. Double click the Anonymous user and click the Permissions tab.

Click the plus sign to the left of acrobat_reviews to show its subfolders. Leave the permissions on the acrobat reviews alone, and set the permissions on the repository to Read, Modify, Create and Delete as shown.

Click the Save link above the Path column heading to save the permission changes.

Now, we’re ready to use CQ as a repository for our Acrobat X Shared reviews.

In Acrobat X, open a PDF you want to send for Shared Review and click the Comment button to open the Comment Pane. Click the Send for Shared Review button, and then choose “Automatically collect comments on my own internal server” and click Next.

Choose the Web Server folder option. Enter the full URL to your repository. In my example, my repository is operating on my laptop and is running on port 4502. The URL to the repository is therefore http://localhost:4502/acrobat_reviews/repository. You will need to know your server URL and active port to the author instance in order to enter your own information, though. Click Next and Acrobat will prompt you for your credentials to access the repository. I used the Anonymous user, so I enter anonymous (lower case “a”) for the user and leave the password blank. If you click Save this Information, then the userid and password will be saved in Acrobat’s keychain. Each user who accesses the review will have to enter their own credentials. For groups, therefore, it makes sense to use groups to control access to the folder and therefore provide at least userid and password access to the reviews. Acrobat will create and delete a test file on the server, after which it will prompt you to choose how to send the review notification to reviewers.

You can choose to send the file with your default email application or send it later. If you are on a Mac, Acrobat looks for Microsoft Entourage, so if you aren’t using Entourage, then you might have trouble sending email from Acrobat on your Mac. In that case, save the file to attach to email later. On Windows, Acrobat supports more email clients. In any case, test to ensure that Acrobat supports your email client. If you decide to allow Acrobat to create the email, there are two options. You can choose to send the PDF as an attachment or as a link in the email message. Pick one, click Next, and then enter a name for your Server Profile. This will allow you to reuse these settings when you start Shared Reviews later.

Once you send the file to someone for review, they will need to be able to access the server, so be sure that the server URL is accessible to all of the reviewers. When a reviewer opens the PDF, they will login to the server, add comments, and then post them to the repository for other reviewers to see.

Because of its built-in WebDAV and easy to configure security, CQ5 is a great technology for Shared Review and Forms Data Collection workflows.

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