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InDesign to Adobe Acrobat to Adobe Reader Link problem

Feb 23, 2012 3:10 PM

Hi - I'm responsible for a long conversation about link problems in creating file links in InDesign that did not work in Acrobat. At the end of that long discussion, I thought I solved the problem, but didn't. Since then, I've been MUCH more observant.


The problem appears to take place in Adobe Reader.


My home computer on Win7 is different than my work Computer (XP), but I have the same software on both.


At work, I discovered that when I clicked on a PDF, it worked fine, that its links opened a new PDF window, but when I clicked on links on the second document, the links failed and Microsoft returned an error message telling me that I was screwed. Because I was screwed, I couldn't see what was in the path of that error.


It turns out that for some unknown reason (which you might clarify for me), my Adobe Readers are attempting to open my documents in Internet Explorer and that just won't work.


What I observed at home is that I made 5 test documents in ID, and ported them to Acrobat. As it turns out, my default for opening PDFs is Adobe Reader, which I saw on the chrome of the first document I opened. When I clicked a link, and I got the error message, I noticed my browser was up.


When I set my default for opening in Acrobat, everything worked like a charm! How about that!


Now then, what that says to me is that Adobe Reader is to be used exclusively with a browser, so if the people who are going to read your internal PDF files with Reader without those files being on a web server of some type, you are totally screwed. The only way you can use Reader is if you click on the file and bring it up directly. Don't rely on linking to other documents.


I mean, that is what it seems to me.


Now, I am creating a big project for an environment without a webserver and obviously my sense of panic is palpable. That said, I believe that all my users can read my files using Acrobat (to be tested tomorrow), which I hope means I can breathe a bit easier.


Do any of you have any thoughts on this subject? If you are really curious, I can make a packet of test files available.

  • Currently Being Moderated
    Feb 23, 2012 9:03 PM   in reply to Karen_Little

    The problem has to do with you using your home computer and work computer. You have to make sure the files are located in the same directory on both computers. That means if your documents are stored in a user account on one computer that same user account must be on the other account.

    The way around it, is in indesign, look at the url of the link and manually type the other address. When you export the pdf, it will no longer work on that computer, but it will on the other system, assuming you typed the url correctly.

    To make sure the url is correct, open windows exporer and navigate to where the pdf's will be located. At the top of the window, next to the back and forward buttons is the address bar, Even though it shows something like: documents>pdf files>more files Click on the icon that looks like a folder just before the folder names. This will force explorer to display the absolute url for the location of those files. Highlight that url, copy and email it to your other computer. Now you will have the correct url to paste into the link's url in indesign.

    If you don't want to go through all that trouble, then why not put all the files in a new folder just below the root folder of the drive. Just make sure both drive are using the same drive letter. If your work computer is using drive J, then your home computer must use drive J or you will need to go through what I stated above.

    I know it sounds a bit complicated, but doing a bit of copy/pasting will make it go fairly smoothly.


    That being said, I think pdf's can use relative links, but I haven't tried it and therefore have not given any advice towards doing so.

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  • Currently Being Moderated
    Feb 26, 2012 11:15 AM   in reply to Karen_Little

    Karen_Little wrote:


    The files and the PDFs are all in the same directory.


    The tests are on local drives. All indesign files and their related PDFs were in the same directory.


    The same for Word and its related PDFs. Note that the PDFs created by Word then read by Adobe Reader worked correctly. They all opened in Adobe Reader.


    If the default program for opening PDFs is Acrobat, everything works correctly, with the added benefit of everything opening in a different window, which is what I want (yet to be tested at work). If the default program is Adobe Reader, the second generation of links do NOT work because Reader opens in Internet Explorer.


    When I open a Word-created PDF with Acrobat, view the link, and click to the Actions menu, the action is "Open a file"


    When I open an InDesign PDF with Acrobat and do the same, the action says "Open a web link"


    Big BIG BIG bug.

    Are you seeing the link commands by editing them in Acrobat? If not, try, so you can see the exact command and file or URL instruction. It still may be a bug, but you'll have better evidence when you report it here:

    Adobe - Feature Request/Bug Report Form


    And, you might want to try correcting a link command in Acrobat, to see if can work for both Acrobat and Reader.










    Peter Gold

    KnowHow ProServices

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  • Currently Being Moderated
    Feb 26, 2012 12:01 PM   in reply to Karen_Little

    It's not a bug, but a limitation of the way InDesign implements link annotations. InDesign has its own custom code to create PDF files and does not use Acrobat for any stage in the process.


    In PDF the subtype of a link annotation decides what it does. If it's "URI", the reading application will open a Web browser and naviagate to the address (even if that address is a local file: link). If the subtype is "filespec", it will open the file either in the same application window or in a new window, depending on how the link preferences are set. When you create a link from within Acrobat and select the "Open a file" action, the annotation subtype is "filespec".


    When you create a link to a URL or a local (but external) file in InDesign, the link subtype exported to PDF is always "URI", so Acrobat or Adobe Reader will send the address to your default browser. If that browser is subsequently configured not to open PDF files inline, it will pass the address to a new process instance of your default PDF reading application - resulting in it appearing to the user that the first PDF file has directly-opened another window, but with a browser instance also on the taskbar. By that time the concept of "being in the same folder" has been lost.

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  • Currently Being Moderated
    Feb 27, 2012 1:32 AM   in reply to Karen_Little

    It's important to understand that InDesign uses its own library for creating PDF files, which has only a selection of the features available through the PDFMaker system which Acrobat installs into other applications (e.g. Word). While many of us working with Acrobat would prefer this to change, it's a long-standing decision. Acrobat is bundled in the Creative Suite collections so users can implement things after the PDF has been created which the export libraries in CS applications cannot yet do (scripts, forms, rich media controls, link and button actions, etc.) - it's just as easy to make an external document link in Acrobat as it is in InDesign.


    A 'bug' is an unintentional error in code. A feature which is missing because of a purposeful choice made by the developers is not a bug, but users can of course post a feature request to indicate they would like to see it added in a future version.

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