First Look: Adobe Document Server for Reader Extensions
Extend the functionality of your PDF forms

By Adobe
21 October 2002

Some 490 million copies of the free Adobe® Acrobat® Reader® software have been distributed worldwide since the product's 1993 introduction, allowing users to view and print Portable Document Format (PDF) files that maintain the intuitive look and feel of paper documents. Acrobat Reader has also provided government organizations, financial institutions, and other enterprises with a convenient way to freely distribute electronic versions of their paper forms, which users can easily view, fill in, and submit online.

But organizations need more functionality from their PDF forms if they are to meet new government paperwork reduction mandates, reduce forms processing costs, and create more efficient, new business processes.

Adobe Document Server for Reader Extensions software takes PDF form workflows to the next level, allowing government agencies to provide constituents access to far greater functionality and flexibility with nothing more than the newest version of free Acrobat Reader software.

The Need for Adobe Document Server for Reader Extensions Paper forms have traditionally been the easiest for most people to use, but the information must be manually input into a database. The process is time consuming, error ridden, and costly-governments and enterprises in the United States alone spend approximately $20 billion annually capturing data from business-transaction paper forms*.

* According to Harvey Spencer, a research analyst specializing in electronic document and forms processing.

Meanwhile, eGovernment initiatives are in effect worldwide, requiring governments to provide easy, broad access to agencies and services for their constituents (including citizens, businesses, and other government agencies). In the United States, federal agencies must adhere to the Government Paperwork Elimination Act (GPEA) by Oct. 21, 2003. The GPEA mandates that agencies provide options for citizens to submit form information electronically and encourages the use of digital signatures for electronic form submissions.

Adobe Document Server for Reader Extensions enables government agencies around the world to meet those demands, and more. Depending on the process, organizations can streamline secure information capture and seamlessly integrate the data into existing systems, dramatically lowering processing costs, virtually eliminating the need for paper forms, and maximizing the return on existing IT investments. Adobe Document Server for Reader Extensions makes new, automated government-to-business, government-to-government, and government- to-citizen transactions possible.

How it Works

The Adobe Document Server for Reader Extensions solution consists of two pieces: the server software, which assigns additional usage rights to electronic forms created by PDF authoring programs such as Adobe Acrobat 5.0 and Adobe Form Designer 5.0; and the client software, Acrobat Reader 5.1, which reads and allows access to the usage rights embedded in PDF forms.

Server software-Adobe Document Server for Reader Extensions allows organizations to assign additional usage rights to PDF forms in one of two ways: via a Web browser interface, ideal for manually assigning rights to a small number of forms one at a time; or using a programmable Application Programming Interface (API), for assigning rights to a large number of forms in an automated process.

Using either method, the Adobe Document Server for Reader Extensions server can enable four types of usage rights on a PDF form:

  • Commenting tools, including sticky notes, highlights, stamps, and strikethroughs

  • The ability to save a form to a desktop for offline completion or archiving, without losing any forms data

  • Digital signatures, including support for Public Key Infrastructure systems for third-party validation

  • Advanced forms features, including the ability to submit a form offline or via email, import or export forms data, and create new pages

Acrobat Reader-Acrobat Reader 5.1, which can be downloaded free of charge from the Adobe Web site (, reads the usage rights embedded in PDF forms by Adobe Document Server for Reader Extensions and provides user access to those additional features.

Key Benefits

Streamline business processes-When integrated with new or existing workflows, Adobe Document Server for Reader Extensions software can increase the speed and quality of business processes. Support for digital signatures ensures that information submitted is authentic.

Lower costs-Adobe Document Server for Reader Extensions reduces the need to manually capture data from paper-based forms, which saves money and reduces costly input errors. Improve constituent satisfaction-Adobe Document Server for Reader Extensions delivers easy-to-use, robust forms to constituents at no cost to them. PDF forms have the familiar look and feel of paper, which makes them easy to use. Constituents can fill in forms offline, submit them when convenient, and store a finished form on a hard drive for their records.

Easy to install and integrate-Adobe Document Server for Reader Extensions is easy to install and integrate with existing workflows and applications, enabling government organizations to build upon the investments they've already made. In addition, organizations can leverage Adobe Document Server for Reader Extensions as part of a larger solution developed by IT staff or systems integrators. For example, integrating Adobe Document Server for Reader Extensions with a backend system such as a database enables completed PDF forms to be returned and forms data to be extracted as XML (Extensible Markup Language) data.


To Top

PDF In-Depth Free Product Trials Ubiquitous PDF

Debenu Aerialist

The ultimate plug-in for Adobe Acrobat. Advanced splitting, merging, stamping, bookmarking, and link...

Download free demo

Debenu PDF Tools Pro

It's simple to use and will let you preview and edit PDF files, it's a Windows application that makes...

Download free demo

Five visions of a PDF Day

In the world of PDFs or as we like to say Planet (of) PDF, a year isn't a real PDF year without an intense few days of industry knowledge sharing.

May 15, 2018
Platinum Sponsor

Search Planet PDF
more searching options...
Planet PDF Newsletter
Most Popular Articles
Featured Product

Debenu PDF Aerialist

The ultimate plug-in for Adobe Acrobat. Advanced splitting, merging, stamping, bookmarking, and link control. Take Acrobat to the next level.


Adding a PDF Stamp Comment

OK, so you want to stamp your document. Maybe you need to give reviewers some advice about the document's status or sensitivity. This tip from author Ted Padova demonstrates how to add stamps with the Stamp Tool along with related comments.