PDF In-Depth

Sponsor Spotlight: Drumlin Security

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Dan Shea

Planet PDF Managing Editor Dan Shea first became involved with PDF while developing a back-end process for the conversion of paper books for a leading eBook provider. He joined the Planet PDF team as PDF Store Manager, catalyzing a period of unprecedented growth in the area,...  More



Editor's Note: This article is part of Planet PDF's 'Sponsor Focus' series, which outlines various PDF implementations and the roles Planet PDF sponsors play in those solutions.

Drumlin is a new and highly unusual service. Serious problems with conventional PDF security are well known and the cost of specialized alternatives that are really secure has been very high up until now. Drumlin has been designed to address these issues. Firstly, Drumlin strongly encrypts standard PDF files so that they can only be read by individuals you have authorized and cannot be copied from machine to machine. Second Drumlin is provided as a combined free reader and secure publisher in one, so there are no up-front software costs. This software allows many controls to be applied to such documents, such as enabling or disabling text copy facilities; setting start and end dates for viewing; specifying the number of times a document may be viewed, the number of times it may be printed (if at all) and the number of pages that may be printed.

The developers of the software and service wanted to ensure that documents such as books, market research reports, subscription newsletters, financial documents and similar valuable or private information, could be distributed with complete safety. They were also concerned to ensure that the service was very simple to use and either free or very low cost -- which presented a considerable challenge.

The first step involved the development of a high functionality PDF reader. A screenshot of the latest release is shown below -- as you can see, alongside the familiar menu and toolbars are the thumbnail and bookmark navigation aids. All current levels of PDF are supported, and features such as document searching and internal and external hyperlinks operate as expected.

PDF file display

In additional to conventional PDF file display, the Drumlin File menu provides facilities to create or "Publish" secure PDFs and to Authorize (or activate) previously secured PDFs. The publishing step works as follows: you start the Drumlin software and then select the File menu, Publish option, and the "Publish New Document" screen is displayed, as shown below. You then select the PDF (or multiple PDFs) you wish to securely publish (e.g. myreport.pdf) and optionally provide a description, version and (for some books) an ISBN. By default the end date (i.e. the document expiry date) is set for today plus 50 years and view and print settings show -1, which means these are defaulted to 'unlimited'. You can change these settings to 0, 1, 10 etc. as required, and then press OK.

Publish New Document dialog

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