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Third-Party Viewers

There are over 20 commercially available PDF viewing/reading applications for Windows and many others available for tablet devices. Bear in mind that these programs were designed to open, view, and sometimes annotate traditional PDF files. They weren’t designed to work with your interactive and dynamic XFA PDF forms.

Because they were designed to read traditional PDF files, these third-party PDF viewers are typically lightweight applications that don’t include a JavaScript engine or support for Adobe’s XFA object model. If your user base includes third-party PDF readers and you’re using XFA PDF forms, it’s best to advise your end users to open your forms with the free Adobe Reader. This will enable them to realize all the features and functionality in your forms.

Viewing PDFs on Tablet Devices

Your XFA PDFs also won’t work in the third-party PDF viewers that are available for the Apple iPad and Android tablets. Even Adobe’s own Reader application for tablet devices doesn’t support XFA PDFs. If you’re targeting mobile devices with your Designer forms, you should render them as HTML mobile forms; you’ll see how to do this in Part 3, “HTML Forms.”

Web Browsers with Default Viewers

But perhaps the biggest challenge with non-Adobe PDF readers is the new web browsers that include their own default PDF viewers. The following is a short list of web browsers that have a non-Adobe PDF viewer as their default helper application for PDF files:

  • Apple Safari defaults to Apple’s own Preview application.
  • Google Chrome includes a default viewer that opens PDFs directly in the browser window.
  • Mozilla Firefox has its own default PDF viewer.

Changing the default for Google Chrome

Fortunately, you can change your browser’s default PDF viewers. Follow these steps to change the default PDF helper application in the Google Chrome browser:

  1. Launch your Google Chrome browser.
  2. Enter chrome://plugins in the navigation bar, and press Enter. You’ll see the Chrome Plug-ins panel (Figure 4.15).

    Figure 4.15

    Figure 4.15 The Google Chrome Plug-ins panel.

  3. Click Disable in the Chrome PDF Viewer section (Figure 4.15).

    If you have Adobe Acrobat or Adobe Reader on this machine, you can enable it as your default PDF viewer for Chrome. If you don’t have it, you must download it first before proceeding with these next steps.

  4. Scroll down in your Plug-ins panel until you see the entry for Adobe Acrobat or Reader. Click the Enable link. You will see the grayed-out version become active (Figure 4.16).

    Figure 4.16

    Figure 4.16 Enabling Adobe Acrobat in Google Chrome.

  5. Press Ctrl+O on your keyboard to launch Google’s Open File dialog box.
  6. Browse to the dynamic XFA PDF expenseReportDynamic.pdf, which you created earlier in this chapter.
  7. Click Open, and you’ll see your Acrobat/Reader plug-in working inside the Google Chrome window. You now have the full functionality of your dynamic form.

For current information on this topic and to learn how to change the default PDF viewer in other browsers, please refer to the book’s companion site.

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