Acrobat 8.0 Pro Shared Reviews

The Shared Review method of Online Collaboration in Acrobat 8.0 Pro will setup a online repository of comments made on a PDF. Pretty neat, huh? This method is new in Acrobat 8.0 and works quite smooth and really isn't too difficult to setup if you have the right equipment.

Shared Reviews are best used with a webDav server, an online drive that allows both read and write access. Think of it like a folder on your computer somewhere, except it has a URL location. The Shared Review will write all the comments made on your PDF to this webDav server in the form of an RSS feed, so whenever a new comment is posted, the tracker system can automatically grab it and apply it everyone reviewing the PDF.

To do this, first you need a webDav server. Once you've got one, all the setup is done in Acrobat 8.0. PDFs must be encrypted in order to initiate any online review. Acrobat has two main PDF encryptions: Password and Certificate. Password is pretty much self-explanatory. You choose a password, and then no one can read the PDF unless they know the password. Certificate encryption is very smooth, but takes a colossal amount of setup that it's practically not worth it.

How do you encrypt a PDF with Certificate you might ask anyways? Well, first off, a certificate encryption is encrypting a document using certificates. These certificates are the identities of only those you want to view the PDF. But you can only use certificates you've received from your companions. If you don't have a certificate for Matt, then you must send out an email through Acrobat asking him for one. When you receive a full blown certificate from your pal, he will know be one of your 'Trusted Identities' and you can add them into the encryption.

Anyways, with an encrypted document, you can use the Shared Review option. You must setup preferences on the location of your webDav server and passwords and such. You select how you wish to send out invitations of this review. You select who receive email notifications about the review. (and then) You select what you want the email message to say.

Hurrah, all done. The email either contains a link to the PDF if you have the PDF itself saved on the webDav too, or the PDF will just be an attachment.


Pretty neat, huh? Well the point of this whole post is that I wish to automate this process so Users don't have to put up with all the convoluted steps and instructions written above. I mean, how can you possibly go through and explain this to everyone that plans on using it. What a mess.. I doubt anyone actually knows what the hell i'm talking about in the above paragraphs unless you've used Acrobat for online collaboration. (aside from the fact it's not very well written either.)

So, I set forth on the internet to figure out how to make a button someone could press, or a file someone could run that would password encrypt a PDF and setup the Shared Review in the correct location and email all the right people.

Adobe has vast and extensive documentation detailing how to automate this process and automate that process. "Write this script, Write that script." "Here's how to make a plug-ins for Acrobat." "This is pretty nice," i thought. "I'll have this banged out in no time." Yeah, not so much.

You can password encrypt a document using JavaScript, which has been 'fully' flushed out in Acrobat 8.0. It's been so flushed out now that certain JavaScript functions have different security levels. So you can't just run any script you want. Password encryption just happens to fall into the category of untrustworthy. So, in order to do this, I must write a "trusted" function that does what i want, and then call that. Trusted functions are those that the User can manually approve of, or live in the Users script folder. Ugh...

And, apparently, you can't automate the Shared Review. I've come across several forum posts across the web asking how to do this, and in each case someone says that it's just not possible. It's that great..

I sent an email to an 'expert' who said that "Initiating a shared is much more involved. check out this documents ...." which largely talked about browser-based reviews rather than shared reviews.

One thing i did find somewhat help was setting the User's preferences for using a webDav server through tinkering with the Installation process. You can add in your preferences to the .mst file in the folder that contains the setup.exe, which I can't do since people in the office use a CD to install Acrobat.

Anyways... i think i'm done ranting about this now..

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