Adobe Reader X WTF



  • So the Help Desk is on fire with people calling and complaining about our recent company-wide roll out of Adobe Reader X.  It's an intermittent problem, sometimes when the user double-clicks on a PDF document they get an error message "Before proceeding you must first launch Adobe Acrobat and accept the End User License Agreement".

    Okay, but they've already done that.  Or wait, no, they have Reader, not Acrobat.  And the deployment package had all the registry settings for accepting EULA's and such.  Where is this message coming from?  It must be the file, right?  

    So the Help Desk sends me some files that have been causing the problems.

    C04_P0_12764538_CABINET_20110602_CRYSTAL.pdf

    CREDIT_E154896523.pdf

    I'm looking in the document properties.  I'm opening them with a hex editor.   Nothing weird.  In fact, if Reader is running and I open them from the File | Open menu, I don't get the error message.  But it happens every time when I double-click the file to open it.

    Okay, I'll Google the error message.  7700 results?  So it ain't just me.  Good. 

    Everyone seems to think it's the "Protected Mode" feature.  Some say to enable it, some say to disable it. I had it disabled because it was causing problem with some printers out in the field, so I enable it.  "Nope.  Not it.",  The bug taunts me. 

    Then I come across a posting in the Adobe forums.

    Yep.  Both filenames have the letters "CR" in them.  Let me take my ASCII Dwight Schrute PDF which never fails to open and rename it to CR_dwight.pdf.  Hey!  What?  No way!  Really?  

    I have a feeling that Adobe might have laid off a developer recently (I won't say his name, but his initials are C.R.) and he left his mark on an otherwise fine product before leaving.  

    Beer thirty is coming early this week. O_o

     



  • Easter Bomb!

    I had a similar problem a while ago where the Google maps on our websites wouldn't find anything with "arthur" in the search query. I did not test if it might be substring "ar" or "th" or whatever.



  • Man, I hate those kinds of bugs because, in addition to them being the cause of some asshat programming hackery prompting a painful facepalm, it's also such a friggen simple "fix" to rename the file you get more groans from your colleagues saying, "You just spent X hours on this, and all we have to do is rename the file? How incompetent are you?!" without understanding why such an insane bug would take a long time to really track down.

    I actually recall having this same exact problem with a PDF not too long ago, though. I simply asked the person to resend the email and this time, for whatever reason, the email came with the PDF renamed and I was able to open it. I didn't realize until just now that chances are it was this bug.



  • I gave up on Acrobat a long time ago. Now it's possible to create PDFs with almost any word processor, and free readers like Foxit are faster and less buggy.



    It's like Winzip or CuteFTP. Obsolete.



  • @lizardfoot said:

    ... Adobe Reader...

    There's the real WTF. I honestly hate Adobe Reader, and I'm not a fan of any other Adobe products (at least anything lower end - CS5 seemed OK, but Premiere Elements can stuff it). At work I've uninstalled Reader and use Chrome for opening PDFs. Adobe's updater almost just as bad as Java's updater - both of which I hate, and would love to see thrown into a pit of lava, never to be seen again.



  • @thistooshallpass said:

    I gave up on Acrobat a long time ago. Now it's possible to create PDFs with almost any word processor, and free readers like Foxit are faster and less buggy.



    It's like Winzip or CuteFTP. Obsolete.

    I used to love Foxit until they released 5.0 with their ugly ass themed window decorations. Now it wipes out my multi-monitor shortcut icons on window titlebars and I curse at it every time I go to use them. Anyone got any Foxit alternative recommendations?

    Oh and have you seen what Winzip does now? It defaults to this proprietary ZIPX format that only Winzip (and 7-zip) supports, so all the idiots still using Winzip are sending files around in this stupid format and everyone whines that they need to purchase Winzip to open them. F'n winzip.



  • @Joel B said:

    @lizardfoot said:
    ... Adobe Reader...

    There's the real WTF. I honestly hate Adobe Reader, and I'm not a fan of any other Adobe products (at least anything lower end - CS5 seemed OK, but Premiere Elements can stuff it). At work I've uninstalled Reader and use Chrome for opening PDFs. Adobe's updater almost just as bad as Java's updater - both of which I hate, and would love to see thrown into a pit of lava, never to be seen again.
     

    It's easy enough to disable auto-update for Reader (and Java).  I'd like to get rid of Reader too, but getting replacing it would be a monumental task. 

    I'm just hoping the bosses don'twant me to go searching for PDF's and re-naming them. 



  • @Joel B said:

    Adobe's updater almost just as bad as Java's updater

    I don't know about PDF reader, but Adobe's updater for Flash is simply broken beyond all belief-- it only, ONLY, checks for updates on reboot. Since I only reboot once a month or so, God knows how many Flash vulns I have running right now...



  • That's why I use Secunia PSI - it reminds me of all software that needs updating. It also gives me a direct link to the updates in case PSI is not able to update it automatically.



  • @error_NoError said:

    Oh and have you seen what Winzip does now? It defaults to this proprietary ZIPX format that only Winzip (and 7-zip) supports, so all the idiots still using Winzip are sending files around in this stupid format and everyone whines that they need to purchase Winzip to open them. F'n winzip.


    You mean...there are still users of WinZip? It was a monstrosity of Lovecraftian proportions, even back in 2000; I shudder at the thought of the horror it would be now.


  • Discourse touched me in a no-no place

    Chrome's built-in PDF viewer is great right up until you try to view a PDF that has JavaScript in it.

    [Insert "JavaScript is TRWTF" joke here]



  • @error_NoError said:

    Anyone got any Foxit alternative recommendations?

    HP Laserjet P3000





  • @error_NoError said:

    I used to love Foxit until they released 5.0 with their ugly ass themed window decorations. Now it wipes out my multi-monitor shortcut icons on window titlebars and I curse at it every time I go to use them. Anyone got any Foxit alternative recommendations?

     

    Why did you update then? Until I read your post I had no idea which version of Foxit I've got installed, because I don't need any new "features" they can come up with. The useless BS like javascript in Adobe Reader is one reason not to use it in the first place.

    So I went to look it up, I've still got Foxit 2.3,which apparently is from 2008.

     



  • Not only Adobe, but PDF is dumb. DVI is better format of printing.


  • Discourse touched me in a no-no place

    @thistooshallpass said:

    I gave up on Acrobat a long time ago. Now it's possible to create PDFs with almost any word processor, and free readers like Foxit are faster and less buggy.



    It's like Winzip or CuteFTP. Obsolete.
    Now find me a way to embed a PDF viewer in a .net application WITHOUT writing my own PDF parser and renderer and WITHOUT paying license fees and WITHOUT linking against Adobe Reader's ActiveX control.



  • @Weng said:

    Now find me a way to embed a PDF viewer in a .net application WITHOUT writing my own PDF parser and renderer and WITHOUT paying license fees and WITHOUT linking against Adobe Reader's ActiveX control.

    Is this a common thing to do (honest question)? How many programs actually do this? Why do they do it?

    Web browsers are the only examples I can think of, and it drives many people nuts. Most would rather use whatever their favorite PDF viewer program happens to be.


  • Discourse touched me in a no-no place

    One of my apps uses the adobe activex within WinForms in the following situations:

    1) Displaying a document (An exported CrystalReport, so theoretically this could be done with the CR Viewer control at the expense of having lots of irrelevant GUI cruft) to the user for them to append a captured biometric signature.
    2) Displaying back various archived receipts, signed documents, etc. These are all stored in the database as PDFs - theoretically I could just save the CrystalReport and use the CR viewer control once moer, but that makes the document mutable, which is Not A Good Thing when you're going through all the effort of capturing fucking biometrics.
    3) The RTFM key.



  • @Weng said:

    One of my apps uses the adobe activex within WinForms in the following situations:

    Eh, ok. I probably would have just made it a requirement that users have a PDF reader installed, and hand them off as required.



  • @boomzilla said:

    @Weng said:
    One of my apps uses the adobe activex within WinForms in the following situations:

    Eh, ok. I probably would have just made it a requirement that users have a PDF reader installed, and hand them off as required.
     

    I hope i am not one of your users, this is a case where software is going TOO FAR.



  • @Helix said:

    @boomzilla said:
    Eh, ok. I probably would have just made it a requirement that users have a PDF reader installed, and hand them off as required.

    I hope i am not one of your users, this is a case where software is going TOO FAR.

    Me thinks the WTFer doth protest (and torture idioms) too much.



  • @boomzilla said:

    @Helix said:
    @boomzilla said:
    Eh, ok. I probably would have just made it a requirement that users have a PDF reader installed, and hand them off as required.

    I hope i am not one of your users, this is a case where software is going TOO FAR.

    Me thinks the WTFer doth protest (and torture idioms) too much.

     

    Well, I suppose a bird In the hand IS worth two in the bush.



  • @Weng said:

    One of my apps uses the adobe activex within WinForms in the following situations:

     

    There are so many better solutions than the Adobe ActiveX control for viewing a PDF.   What if your application had to be converted to a web-based app to support other operating systems?  You ain't gonna do that with an ActiveX control.

    http://csharp-source.net/open-source/pdf-libraries

     


  • Discourse touched me in a no-no place

    @lizardfoot said:

    There are so many better solutions than the Adobe ActiveX control for viewing a PDF.   What if your application had to be converted to a web-based app to support other operating systems?  You ain't gonna do that with an ActiveX control.
    So you embed an iFrame that the browser gracefully handles with J. Random Luser's PDF renderer of choice.

    ... And the whole biometrics thing just fucking breaks right the fuck down because you can't do that shit in a web browser.

    At any rate,  NOT ONE of the libraries you linked renders the fucking things except perhaps one which is "v0.1.0alpha" and therefore not suitable for production use.


  • Discourse touched me in a no-no place

    @boomzilla said:

    @Weng said:
    One of my apps uses the adobe activex within WinForms in the following situations:

    Eh, ok. I probably would have just made it a requirement that users have a PDF reader installed, and hand them off as required.
    This is a shit solution because you lose all control over the workflow and presentation."Please read this contract and sign your name on the signature pad" becomes a rather difficult instruction to give when a random PDF reader has maximized itself all over the place.



  • @Weng said:

    @boomzilla said:
    Eh, ok. I probably would have just made it a requirement that users have a PDF reader installed, and hand them off as required.

    This is a shit solution because you lose all control over the workflow and presentation."Please read this contract and sign your name on the signature pad" becomes a rather difficult instruction to give when a random PDF reader has maximized itself all over the place.

    OK, that sort of use case makes sense. I guess I didn't fully grok some of your original points. OTOH, for generally viewing reports, this would drive me nuts.


  • Discourse touched me in a no-no place

    @boomzilla said:

    @Weng said:
    @boomzilla said:
    Eh, ok. I probably would have just made it a requirement that users have a PDF reader installed, and hand them off as required.

    This is a shit solution because you lose all control over the workflow and presentation."Please read this contract and sign your name on the signature pad" becomes a rather difficult instruction to give when a random PDF reader has maximized itself all over the place.

    OK, that sort of use case makes sense. I guess I didn't fully grok some of your original points. OTOH, for generally viewing reports, this would drive me nuts.

    It does call out to the default PDF viewer if the application can't create the ActiveX control on startup (that's a neat little initialization routine)- this is mostly because Adobe prevents the AX control from running if you haven't run the main app and accepted the EULA. In that case it disables all the signature stuff(the same as if the system had no signature pad at all) and you miss out on a bunch of metadata that shows on the internal report viewer form.



  • @Weng said:

    It does call out to the default PDF viewer if the application can't create the ActiveX control on startup (that's a neat little initialization routine)- this is mostly because Adobe prevents the AX control from running if you haven't run the main app and accepted the EULA. In that case it disables all the signature stuff(the same as if the system had no signature pad at all) and you miss out on a bunch of metadata that shows on the internal report viewer form.

    OK, that seems like a WTF. I was going to say that having the ActiveX control to display PDFs in your app over which you have control is a lot different than having Adobe as your day to day PDF reader. Which it still may not be, but you have to have it at least installed, apparently. Hmm...looking around a little bit, I don't see that the ActiveX is available other than by installing the main program. So I guess they don't have a stand alone ActiveX redistributable? I guess that sorta makes sense, so you only get one version installed or whatever, since an ActiveX installation is system wide.



  • @error_NoError said:

    I used to love Foxit until they released 5.0 with their ugly ass themed window decorations. Now it wipes out my multi-monitor shortcut icons on window titlebars and I curse at it every time I go to use them. Anyone got any Foxit alternative recommendations?
    I've been using PDF-Xchange for a while now. In it's default configuration it does come with way too many toolbars enabled, but once you turn them off, it's a very nice viewer.



  • @topspin said:

    @error_NoError said:

    I used to love Foxit until they released 5.0 with their ugly ass themed window decorations. Now it wipes out my multi-monitor shortcut icons on window titlebars and I curse at it every time I go to use them. Anyone got any Foxit alternative recommendations?

     

    Why did you update then? Until I read your post I had no idea which version of Foxit I've got installed, because I don't need any new "features" they can come up with. The useless BS like javascript in Adobe Reader is one reason not to use it in the first place.

    So I went to look it up, I've still got Foxit 2.3,which apparently is from 2008.

     

    Because they are no longer providing updates with security fixes for 4.x. They also now have an enterprise MSI that I can easily roll out to users instead of spending a day reversing their installer to roll my own MSI every time they release an update.

    Do any of these suggested alternatives support fill-able forms and Asian fonts?



  • @error_NoError said:

    Do any of these suggested alternatives support fill-able forms and Asian fonts?
    PDF-Xchange should.


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