Acrobat XI brings Reader and LiveCycle Reader Extensions into the limelight

Acrobat XI brings Reader and LiveCycle Reader Extensions into the limelight

The announcement of Adobe Acrobat XI and Reader XI this week has focused more attention on forms than there has been in years. This is the first of this series of posts on Acrobat, Reader and LiveCycle Reader Extensions. This first post, however, will focus just on the basics of Reader Extensions as a technology platform in Reader.

Adobe describes Reader Extensions in the following way

Reader Extensions enables document producers to use a Web-based interface to quickly and easily embed usage rights into Portable Document Format (PDF) files that will “turn on” functionality hidden within the free Adobe Reader. These functions are automatically activated when the respondent opens the Adobe PDF document. Customers, constituents, and partners who access a rights-enabled Adobe PDF document can:

  • Save the file to their local hard drive
  • Fill it out onscreen
  • Share it with others to review and add comments using intuitive markup tools like electronic
    sticky notes, highlights, and text strikethroughs
  • Authenticate and sign a document
  • Submit the completed document electronically

While people generally concentrate on local form save as the most important reader extensions right, there are actually 12 individual rights. Adobe has an excellent knowledgebase article on this for your reference. These rights are

Right Name Number Description
FormFillInAndSave 1 Fill in form fields and save files locally.
FormImportExport 2 Import and export form data as FDF, XFDF, XML and XDP files.
FormAddDelete 3 Add, change or delete fields and field properties on the PDF form.
SubmitStandalone 4 Submit data to a server when it is not running in a browser session, by email or offline.
SpawnTemplate 5 Create pages from template pages within the same PDF form.
Signing 6 Digitally sign and save PDF documents, and clear digital signatures.
AnnotModify 7 Create and modify document annotations such as comments.
AnnotImportExport 8 Save annotations such as comments in a separate data file and load comments from a file.
BarcodePlaintext 9 Print a document with form data barcoded in an unencrypted form that does not require licensed server software to decode.
AnnotOnline 10 Upload and download annotations such as comments to and from an online document review and comment server.
FormOnline 11 Connect to web services or databases that are defined within a PDF form.
EFModify 12 Modify embedded file objects associated with the PDF document.

Two elements are necessary to reader-extend a file. The first is code that will appropriately create the rights dictionary in the PDF file. The second, since that rights dictionary is signed with a digital certificate, is to have an appropriate Reader Extensions credential from Adobe. To date, only two implementations of the rights dictionary creation code exist. The first is in Adobe Acrobat, which has the capability of reader-extending forms and documents to limited audiences. The second is a Java implementation, available within Adobe LiveCycle, and, more recently, the Adobe Java PDF Toolkit distributed by Datalogics. Reader Extension credentials for the signature are still fully controlled by Adobe and can also be resold by Datalogics for use with the standalone Java PDF toolkit. This allows OEMs and ISVs to embed reader extensions capabilities within their products.

Acrobat Pro, since version 8, has enabled a subset of these rights. They are 1, 3, 4, 6, 7 and 8. [Acrobat seven also reader enabled documents but only for comments: just enabling rights 7 and 8.] Access to the full set of Reader Extension rights is only available with Adobe server products in the Java implementation (LiveCycle or the Adobe PDF Java Toolkit).

I will be covering more details and evaluations of Reader XI and rights in the near future… Stay tuned.

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