2 Replies Latest reply on Aug 19, 2011 5:49 AM by joel.johnston

    Annotations With Custom Backend


      We are building a huge document management web application and many of those documents are PDFs. The PDFs and all related information must be stored on our server. We need a PDF viewer that will allow us to annotate the file and save it on the server (ideally the annotations would be stored separately). We've searched for weeks and have come to the conclusion that Adobe Reader would provide the best user experience. Our problem is that the only way we've found to enable the annotation tools in reader is to open the file in Acrobat Pro, start a shared review, save the file, and then open the file in a browser. Unfortunately the whole review process does not apply to our situation at all. Our customers will just annotate files whenever they feel the need. So we want to enable the annotation tools within reader somehow without a review process and we somehow need to grab those annotations and send them to our server.


      I've called many times to Adobe tech support and have gotten exactly that many completely different answers. Here are some of the answers that I've recieved from Adobe tech support:


      You need to use LiveCycle ReaderExtension service to reader extend the file

      OK, I installed the trial version of LiveCylce with JBoss, I logged into localhost/ReaderExtensions, extended a single PDF file to enable comments and everything else - the annotation tools are still disabled.


      You need to create a shared review in Acrobat Pro.

      Annotations work but we don't want reviews and we can't rely on a manual process to enable annotations. We have thousands of existing files that need to "annotatable" now.


      Just use Acrobat Pro

      We need this in a web browser and Acrobat Pro is a stand alone application.


      If you install Acrobat Pro your browser plugin will be upgraded and annotation tools will be available



      You need to find or build a third party plugin for reader

      This one I can believe but I see nothing in the SDK about this, I see no such third party solutions, and only one person has suggested that this is the solution.



      Does anyone out there have a solid answer to this?




        • 1. Re: Annotations With Custom Backend
          Dave Merchant MVP & Adobe Community Professional

          Difficult, as with the depreciation of browser-based reviewing (BBR) from the Acrobat Family, you will only have access to the commenting tools within a browser-framed instance of Acrobat or Adobe Reader when the PDF is in a Shared Review, irrespective of how you create the PDF. Using LCRE to Reader-extend the document only affects the ability of a user with Adobe Reader running in desktop mode to access the complete range of markup tools, and to save copies locally - it doesn't change where the comment data is posted or how the UI behaves in a browser frame.


          It's possible to write a plugin (in C++) which manages the back office data transfer of comments in a "conventional" PDF (Reader-extended but not part of a Shared Review), and a number of organizations have done this in-house to facilitate the same mass-volume ad-hoc review system you're looking for, but the plugins are not commercially available as of course they're each designed to work with specific infrastructures. With such a plugin it is currently still possible to activate the comment and markup tools within a browser frame by using a special API function, but we cannot guarantee that will remain possible in future versions as it's tied to the "collab" API system which drives BBR.


          If you can store your documents and comments externally, using Acrobat.com workspaces is one option (users don't even need Adobe Reader, they can comment directly within the Flash workspace app) but Acrobat.com services are not available for self-hosting.



          The depreciation of BBR was decided after a great deal of debate, and is due to complexities of host environment support which are beyond Adobe's control. It has been decided that Shared Reviews or dedicated plugins are the way to go.

          • 2. Re: Annotations With Custom Backend
            joel.johnston Level 1

            Thank you very much Dave! I guess a custom plugin would not be such a wise investment if the API is likely to dry up on us in the near future.