All Good Things

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The time has come to move over to a new home. New content for this blog will now be posted over on the IT section of the main Acrobat family blog page at http://blogs.adobe.com/acrobat/tag/it. As the number of readers for the Acrobat blog grows, and the amount of content expands, we believe it will be easier for IT professionals to get the latest news, tips and tools from a single location; you probably have a long list of sites you check already. So please make sure you bookmark the new location (and the IT Resource Center too, if you haven’t done so already).

There is a lot of information, advice and tools on this PDF IT Matters blog that is still relevant and useful. So, we are not going to close this blog just yet but we are no longer accepting comments. If you haven’t already, I invite you to search for resources here that may help you with your deployment and usage of Acrobat and Adobe Reader. But any new information and posts will be over on the main Acrobat blog page, and we encourage you to post your questions and comments there and on the Acrobat user-to-user forums.

Thanks to Joel Geraci for all the hard work he put into the invaluable information that he shared with us all here.

See you over at the new place!

Batch printing PDF files from an Email Archive in Acrobat X

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I can always tell when a particular capability of Acrobat is hitting the main-stream; that’s when the really good questions start coming in. Creating email archives using Acrobat has hit the main-stream.

You can use PDFMaker to archive individual, selected, or entire folders of Microsoft Outlook email messages to a PDF Portfolio. Within the PDF Portfolio, each email message appears as a separate PDF file along with any attachments in their original format. This is a great way to archive and store email messages at the end of a project or just keep information handy without clogging up your .PST file. If you need to print out an individual message, that’s pretty easy, just click the print button on the toolbar.

Recently, the complaint/question came in where a user wasn’t able to print all of the messages in the archive. On the surface, it does seem impossible… unless you understand that the email archive is built on top of our PDF Portfolio technology. Continue reading Batch printing PDF files from an Email Archive in Acrobat X

Support for Adobe Reader 8 and Adobe Acrobat 8 has ended. As a policy, Adobe provides five years of product support, starting from the general availability date of Adobe Reader and Adobe Acrobat. In line with this policy, support for Adobe Reader 8.x and Adobe Acrobat 8.x will end on November 3 2011.

End of Support means that Adobe no longer provides technical support or distributes runtimes. This policy affects product and security updates for all derivatives of a product or product version (localized versions, minor upgrades, operating systems, dot and double-dot releases, and connector products.)

You can read the whole technote here or I can save you the trouble and summarize. Upgrade… as quickly as possible.

There are three key, IT related, reasons to upgrade to Acrobat X or Reader X; end-of-support is just the first. The other two are the Protected View/Mode or “Sandboxing” and support for SCCM deployment and SCUP maintenance. You can read more about these technologies at the related articles below.

Our First SCUP Catalog for Acrobat and Reader X is Here
Introducing Adobe Reader Protected Mode

You’ll also find that version 10 loads faster, displays a progress bar when downloading PDF files in the browser and generally has a much cleaner appearance especially in the browser. If you’ve been using Acrobat or Reader 8, you’re going to love Acrobat and Reader X.

Scenario:I’ve spent a couple of hours creating a form that perfectly navigates the user through the fields, automatically skipping and hiding fields based on their responses to others, does validity checking on a field by field basis to ensure data integrity, formats the data exactly the way my database requires it, distributed it using the wizard so I can collect the data, even from people with the free Adobe Reader, tested the final version in versions 6 through 10 and posted it to my web site. Now all I have to do is… reply to all the people who are having trouble with my form because they are using a non-Adobe tool to fill it out. Ack!

I’m not making this up. I get questions on a weekly basis from customers that are baffled by the failure of their well crafted forms to collect their data correctly only to find out that a particular recipient was using a non-Adobe tool to fill it out. To make matters worse, the recipient didn’t even know they were doing anything wrong.

Here’s the issue that IT departments need to be concerned with when deciding to deploy 3rd party tools rather than the free Adobe Reader… as the recipient of a form, you have no idea what that form should look like and no idea how it should behave.

With “lightweight alternative” PDF viewers or ones that are actually built into the operating system, unless you are exclusively using in-house forms that you design around the restrictions of the various PDF viewers, you run the risk of sending inaccurate information back to the form author. Inaccurate information leads to a loss of data, productivity, and money.

So – let’s say your forms are not as complex as the scenario I painted above. Just for argument’s sake, let’s say the form contains no scripting at all; just basic form fields. If you use a common, OS level PDF viewer, let’s call it ViewerA, to fill and save even this simple form, users of Acrobat and Reader (and at least one other 3rd party viewer that I tested) won’t be able to see the data. If you then click into the fields one by one, you can see the information entered into the field; click out of the field, it goes blank again. The form is broken… and as the recipient, you have no idea that the form you sent back to the person who requested the information can’t see your data.

Is using an Adobe Reader alternative worth the risk?

If you want an objective review of the leading PDF viewers out there, take a look at 5 Free PDF Readers Compared. You can read the whole article or just jump to the section on forms in the Review Notes where the best the author can say about the 3rd party tools is that they’re improving.

I get questions from IT managers who, for licensing compliance reasons, are trying to get a handle on what versions and variations of Acrobat are deployed across their networks. Distinguishing between Acrobat and Reader is pretty easy. You can scan the hard drives for the executables; Reader is “AcroRd32.exe” and Acrobat is “Acrobat.exe” but this won’t tell you which version is installed or what variation of Acrobat you have or how it was licensed. You need to dig into the registry for that kind of information.

Desktop administrators can determine the versions and variations of Acrobat deployed across the organization by using asset management tools to query for the product’s Globally Unique Identifier or “GUID”. The Windows Installer Service creates this key automatically when the product is properly installed initially, but it is also updated when product is patched. This article just covers Acrobat. For complete documentation on parsing the GUID for both Acrobat and Reader see the Enterprise Administration Guide for the Adobe Acrobat Family of Products.

For the Acrobat family of products, the GUID indicates the following:

  • Product family: It’s always going to be “Acrobat” – actually “AC76BA86″, to be precise
  • Version: For example, version 9
  • Language: For example, English versus English/French/German
  • Additional languages: Other languages that are included in the package
  • Product type: Standard, Professional, 3D, Pro Extended etc.
  • License type: Whether the retail or volume license product is installed
  • Major version: For example, 8 or 9
  • Minor version: For example .1 or .2 – Typically for quarterly releases
  • Minor-minor version: For example .1 – Typically for patches

Continue reading Need to Determine What Version of Adobe Acrobat is Installed on Each Device You Manage?

Transferring PDF files to iOS Devices

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Adobe Reader for iOS can open and view PDF files from email, on the Web or from any application that supports the “Open In” function. This means you can easily use just about any cloud storage service that has an iOS app to sync your PDF files on your iPhone or iPad. If you’d rather transfer files to your device, that’s pretty easy too; just use iTunes. One thing to be aware of is that Spotlight is not yet able to search inside PDF files at this time so you’ll want rename your files to something meaningful prior to transferring them.

Transferring PDF files to iOS Devices:

  1. Open iTunes and plug in your iOS device.
  2. In the devices Synch panel, select Apps.
  3. Under “File Sharing”, select Adobe Reader
  4. Drag your file(s) into the “Adobe Reader Documents” area
  5. Sync your device

ITunesPDF

Your files will now show up in the Adobe Reader “Documents” window.

IPhoneFiles

Why Would I Install the Adobe Reader on an iPhone or iPad?

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As I’m sure you’ve heard by now, Adobe Reader is now available for iPhone and iPad. But PDF files can already open natively on these devices, why install the Adobe Reader?

There are a few reasons but here’s three off the top of my head.

Third party PDF viewing tools typically cut corners when it comes to displaying PDF files specifically in areas around fonts, image types, transparency and output intent. Users of Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign and even Microsoft Word and PowerPoint may find that when PDF files are exported from these applications. They don’t render properly in anything other than Adobe Acrobat and Reader. The real problem is, as the recipient, you have no idea what the document should look like so you have no idea if what you’re seeing is wrong. Using the Adobe Reader is a way to ensure that you’re seeing what the author intended.

The second is around document security. Many organizations are protecting their IP using LiveCycle Rights Management. Only the Adobe Reader can open these files on mobile devices.

Last… but not least, the Adobe Reader can open PDF Portfolios and view the attached PDF files, though with out the Flash-Based UI. So far, I haven’t seen a 3rd party viewer that can do that on a mobile device.

Acrobat and Reader X certified by JITC

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If you’ve been thinking about using PDF for digital signature workflows, you’ll be happy to know that Adobe Acrobat and Reader X have been certified by the US Department of Defense’s Joint Interoperability Test Command (JITC) for their compliance with the DoD’s application requirements for Public Key Enabled services, e.g digital signatures. The testing included intensive, comprehensive evaluations of Acrobat and Reader’s capabilities in:

  • Certificate operations
  • Signature and certificate status validation
  • Path processing and validation
  • Configuration and documentation

Read official JITC list of software and solutions that have been tested for Public Key Enabled compliance.

Adobe Reader for iOS Available Now

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We are excited to announce that today, Adobe Reader for iOS is available free on the Apple App Store. Just like Adobe Reader on the desktop, now you can use your iPhone, iPad or iPod Touch to quickly view and interact with the widest range of PDF file types – including PDF Portfolios, password-protected PDF documents and even Adobe LiveCycle rights-managed PDF files. For more details on Adobe Reader for iOS, including a video overview of the app, check out the blog post from Anuj Gupta, product manager for Adobe Reader.

And, we just released Adobe Reader 10.1 for Android, offering many of the same great features for fast, high-quality interaction with PDF files on your Android smartphones and tablets.

More News on the Need to Stay Up to Date

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I posted a few articles last week on the need to stay up to date with your software. Here’s yet another reason.

Microsoft released its Security Intelligence Report volume 11 (SIRv11), which found that less than 1 percent of exploits in the first half of 2011 were against zero-day vulnerabilities. In contrast, 99 percent of all attacks during the same period distributed malware through familiar techniques, such as social engineering and unpatched vulnerabilities.

Read the full article on Help Net Security.