LiveCycle PDF Generator Best Practices

Because of the unique way LiveCycle PDF Generator ES invokes native applications to do what it does (convert native documents to PDF), there are a number of configuration steps that need to be strictly followed as a matter of best practice.

WINDOWS
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1) Determine the userID whose identity the J2EE appserver will “run as”
2) Login as that user and perform all installs (MS Office, Acrobat, LiveCycle). If Office has already been installed by your IT department as the ‘Local Administrator’ user, and if you do not have Local Administrator privileges, make sure that the user that the J2EE appserver will “run as” is a member of the local group ‘Administrators’.
3) Make sure the Print Spooler service is turned on and set to run automatically. The Acrobat install will not be complete otherwise.
4) Make sure that multiple versions of Acrobat are not installed on the same machine. If there are, uninstall all of them and re-start the server.
5) Ensure that the server disks are performant (at least 7,200 RPM, with at least 8 MB cache) because there is lots of file I/O involved
6) Set the ‘TEMP’ and ‘TMP’ user environment variables to a dedicated folder such as C:\USER_TEMP (PDFG uses this) so that you control where file I/O occurs. This also helps with maintenance (cleanup of orphaned files)
6) Set the ‘TEMP’ and ‘TMP’ system environment variables to a dedicated folder such as D:\SYSTEM_TEMP (Acrobat conversions use this folder) for the same reason as the previous step.
7) Write a batch script to cleanup those folders on server re-start

MICROSOFT OFFICE
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1) Install Microsoft Office, OpenOffice and other native applications before you install either Acrobat or LiveCycle.
2) Activate each application. Please note that in Office 2007, Word , Excel and PowerPoint can be activated together but Visio needs to be activated separately.
3) Start each Office application manually and address all dialogs (registration, user experience improvement etc).
4) Open Word. Disable “Auto Recovery”.
5) Set “Default file location” to a folder you can monitor and periodically cleanup such as D:\OFFICE_TEMP
6) Do the same for Microsoft PowerPoint and Excel
7) Perform some Advanced customization. Microsoft Word offers a LARGE number of customizations which might help you get the best output.

ACROBAT
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1) Install Acrobat before you install LiveCycle.
2) Start Acrobat. Check for updates and apply them.
3) Use it to convert a few documents (Word, Excel etc). Dismiss all dialogs that come up (registration, user experience improvement etc). This is absolutely CRITICAL. This is a major cause of problems. The user experience improvement dialog is especially insidious because it comes up only after a certain number of invocations. If you have a PDFG environment where things stop working after 2-5 invocations, chances are that this is the cause.
4) Perform a conversion manually using Word, Excel etc.

LIVECYCLE
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1) Install, configure and deploy LiveCycle
2) Verify that Acrobat_PATH is set.
3) If it applies to your scenario, ensure the following environment variables are also set – Notepad_PATH, Photoshop_PATH, WordPerfect_PATH, PageMaker_PATH, FrameMaker_PATH, OpenOffice_PATH
4) If you are running a full 64-bit environment, make sure that you also install a 32-bit JDK. Also ensure that the environment variable JAVA_HOME_32 is set to this JDK. Details here.
5) Perform a conversion using the LiveCycle Admin Console (navigate to Services->LiveCycle PDF Generator ES->Create PDF).

If the conversion fails, check the J2EE appserver’s log for details – JBoss (server.log), WebLogic (managed server log), WebSphere (SystemOut.log). In the case of WebSphere, the FFDC (First Fault Data Capture) logs might also provide detailed information. If these do not contain any useful information, check the Windows Event Log (Application).

To perform some investigations yourself, see here to get an idea of all of the file I/O that happens during a PDFG operation.


We received the following comment from Howard Treisman:….In order for PDFG to work correctly, you need to activate Acrobat. In order to activate Acrobat, you need internet access. If you do not activate Acrobat, you will get strange, intermittent and misleading errors at runtime. Many production servers sit behind firewalls, and do not have access to the internet.What is the solution to this issue…?One solution is to temporarily allow access to the internet. I think Yo (cc-ed) did some work to try to manually create the registry entries. It seems crazy that you can’t install Acrobat in some sort of “server-mode”.

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