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PDF Hacks
By Sid Steward
August 2004
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Customize Acrobat Using JavaScript
Create custom Acrobat menu items and batch processing scripts
[Discuss (5) | Link to this hack]

Acrobat can do most of the things that you need. Yet, there's always something you wish it did a little differently. Acrobat enables you to add custom features using plain-text JavaScripts. These scripts can add menu items to Acrobat's menus or add tailored sequences to Acrobat's batch processing.

Acrobat JavaScript builds on the language core familiar to web developers, but its document object model is completely different from the DOM used by web browsers. Acrobat's JavaScript objects are documented in Technical Note 5186: Acrobat JavaScript Object Specification. Access it online from http://partners.adobe.com/asn/developer/pdfs/tn/5186AcroJS.pdf. Another useful document is the Acrobat JavaScript Scripting Guide from http://partners.adobe.com/asn/acrobat/sdk/public/docs/AcroJSGuide.pdf.

Add New Acrobat Features with Startup JavaScripts

When Acrobat starts up, it runs any JavaScripts it finds in either the system-level JavaScripts folder or the user-level JavaScripts folder. The locations of these folders are given shortly. You might need to create some of these folders if you can't find them.

Use startup JavaScripts to add menu items to Acrobat or to set global JavaScript variables. demonstrates how to add a menu item and how to set/query a persistent global variable. Acrobat stores these persistent global variables in a file named glob.js. shows one use of making Acrobat execute a JavaScript periodically.

These JavaScripts even enable you to add features to the free Reader, although Reader won't perform the more powerful commands. Our various JavaScript hacks all work with Reader. JavaScripts are also platform-independent, so our JavaScript hacks all run on Windows, Mac, and Linux.

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