Recently in Version X Category

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. Batch printing PDF files from an Email Archive in Acrobat X

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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.

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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.

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.

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.

New Version of the AIM Application Available Now

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Please download the new Administrator’s Information Manager (AIM) application.

The new application features the following:

  • More robust Update mechanism.
  • “Check for update” button so users have control over when to check and get the latest.
  • Version and date info in the UI
  • Several other bug fixes having to do with linking.
  • User can choose to view local content in AIR or in the browser.
  • Online content automatically goes to browser
  • Added all the prefs for Acrobat and Reader 10.1 and 10.1.1 as well as others.

Acrobat and Reader Security and the Need to Keep Updated

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Tim Rains, Director, Product Management at Microsoft recently published an article detailing the key findings of the Microsoft Security Intelligence Report Volume 8 on document file format exploits where Acrobat and Reader were explicitly called out. Quoting Tim…

The key things to take away from this study are:

  • Once attackers figure out how to exploit a document parser vulnerability, they will try to use that exploit for years to come.
  • Newer is better: running the latest version of document parsers and the latest service pack is a very effective mitigation against these types of attacks.
  • Keep all of your software up to date including document parsers such as Microsoft Office, Adobe Acrobat, Adobe Reader, and others.
  • Use Microsoft Update to keep your Windows based systems up to date, instead of Windows Update. Microsoft Update will help keep all of your Microsoft software updated including Windows operating systems and Microsoft Office, where Windows Update only keeps Windows operating systems up to date.
  • If you haven’t updated the document parsers you have installed on your systems, you should give serious consideration to doing so.
  • Don’t open email attachments or documents hosted on the Internet if you don’t know and trust their source.

The whole article is really great reading if you’re looking for a solid business case to upgrade sooner rather than later. Leveraging out SCUP catalogs for Acrobat and Reader are a good idea as well.

Read Targeted Attacks and the Need to Keep Document Parsers Updated

Installing Both Reader and Acrobat on the Same Machine

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I’ve been traveling for the last 3 weeks talking to end users and IT managers and the same few topics are coming up day after day. One issue in particular has me doing a strange little dance…paraphrasing…

We have Reader on our standard desktop but some people have Acrobat too. We’re running into trouble with [fill in the blank]. Should we have uninstalled Reader first?

Installing Both Reader and Acrobat on the Same Machine

Adobe Reader and Google Chrome: Revisited

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Adobe has been working closely with Google lately. The first example was our Reader sandboxing technology or “Protected Mode”. Here’s another great example of cooperation.

Google Chrome includes the Chrome PDF Viewer which does a great job at rendering basic PDF files but can’t properly display some PDF files like Dynamic Forms and PDF Portfolios. If you are using Chrome, it now displays a bar at the top of any PDF file that the Chrome PDF Viewer detects it can’t properly render.

You then have the choice of making Reader the default viewer.

If you click “Never” then change your mind at some point and want to display your PDF files in Chrome using the Adobe Reader, you can easily disable the native viewer. Just type “about:plugins” in address bar and then disable the Chrome PDF Viewer and Enable the Adobe Reader. You don’t even need to restart. It just works.

Unfortunately, there is no solution for the Mac at this time.

Adobe Reader and Acrobat X (10.1.1), 9.4.6 and 8.3.1

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In case you missed it last week, we announced the availability of Adobe Reader and Acrobat X (10.1.1), 9.4.6 and 8.3.1.

Steve Gottwals, Group Product Manager for Adobe Reader, wrote the following about the releases.

EchoSign for Adobe Reader
With Adobe Reader X (10.1.1), you can now click on the EchoSign link directly in Reader and you’ll be taken straight to the EchoSign page where you can start signing, sending and tracking your PDF documents. The entire signature process from the request for signature to the distribution and execution of the form or agreement is done online. The EchoSign signature service provides a secure subscription-based service to individuals, SMBs and enterprise customers. It enables real-time visibility into the signature process and automatically storing and managing all signed documents. We expect it will make electronic signatures the common way for people to sign documents.

Adobe Reader X(10.1.1) UI Enhancement
As we add new services, like EchoSign mentioned above, you will notice that the Reader UI has enhanced tools panes as well. Instead of “Comment” and “Share”, we have now re-organized them to hold “Tools” and “Comments”. These enhancements not only allow for better expansion in the future, they also provide a better user experience when accessing Reader’s advanced capabilities as tested with our end-users.

Adobe Reader and Acrobat Version 8 End of Support
As a reminder to the previous blog post: Adobe Reader and Acrobat Version 8 End of Support, Adobe provides five years of product support from the general availability date of Adobe Reader and Adobe Acrobat (Windows and Macintosh – Note: Adobe only supports the most recent major version of Adobe Reader for Linux Version 9.x). In line with that policy, support for Adobe Reader 8.x and Adobe Acrobat 8.x will end on November 3, 2011.

For more information regarding the security details in these releases, please see Security Bulletin APSB11-24. For detailed Release Notes, please see the Release Notes Library.