Starting point of Acrobat/Reader plugin development

Community Beginner ,
May 30, 2022 May 30, 2022

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Hi to everyone, I am a Delphi(Pascal) developer but I am able write code enough in JS and C, and I would like to develop an Adobe DC / Acrobat Reader plugin that fetchs data from internet and modify/manipulate the pdf content.

First problem is I've never developed any plugin for Acrobat/Reader yet. Second problem is I don't know how to do it? (I am glad to hear your suggestions about IDE(if possible), examples, etc.). 3rd problem is; I don't know is it possible to make this kind of plugin for Adobe DC / Acrobat Reader? I am not sure about OS issues, Adobe DC / Acrobat Reader version problems and Adobe DC / Acrobat Reader SDK capability problems.

I hope this newbie question is in right place. Thanks right now.

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LEGEND , May 30, 2022 May 30, 2022
Some thoughts.1. To develop the plug-in you will need paid-for Acrobat, not Reader.2. For a free, by negotiation, but anywhere up to $50,000 per year, you can also develop plug-ins for Reader. But there are specific limitations: it cannot modify a PDF for sure.3. You will need the Acrobat SDK, which has vast amounts of documentation, and a very few samples. Start with a sample and add to it, it is HARD to make a new project that works. Follow the SDK's rules for IDE to use; currently on Windows ...

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LEGEND ,
May 30, 2022 May 30, 2022

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Some thoughts.

1. To develop the plug-in you will need paid-for Acrobat, not Reader.

2. For a free, by negotiation, but anywhere up to $50,000 per year, you can also develop plug-ins for Reader. But there are specific limitations: it cannot modify a PDF for sure.

3. You will need the Acrobat SDK, which has vast amounts of documentation, and a very few samples. Start with a sample and add to it, it is HARD to make a new project that works. Follow the SDK's rules for IDE to use; currently on Windows it is VS2019.

4. Adobe only offer an SDK for use with the current version of Acrobat, but in practice it will work with any version of paid-for Acrobat DC, 2015, 2017 or 2020.

5. To write a plug-in often (and especially if the PDF is to be modified) needs deep study of the PDF Reference, a 1000 page document describing everything about how PDFs are made. You need to understand the graphics and text models in order to use the editing abstractions in the SDK.

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Adobe Community Professional ,
May 30, 2022 May 30, 2022

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Re #2. This involves not just paying, but getting Adobe to agree to what your plugin is going to achieve, before getting from them a key number that will allow it to run.

I once applied for such a license and never got a reply. Just FYI...

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Community Beginner ,
May 30, 2022 May 30, 2022

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I have a subscription for Adobe CC so 1st request is done probably. Visual Studio is most important suggestion for me. Thank you for your help, thoughts and all suggestions.

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Community Beginner ,
May 30, 2022 May 30, 2022

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In addition, is it possible to modify PDF conent in Reader (If I develop my plug-in)? and fetch data from internet for both Reader and Acrobat? And finally, do I need to take care Operating System differences?

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LEGEND ,
May 30, 2022 May 30, 2022

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What can be done in Reader is limited by two things. 

1. The API leaves out most editing methods. 
2. What you do is further controlled by the terms of the license Adobe grant you. One that is granted to "strategic partners" and which grants the right to do specific things. 
It may help to think of the SDK as a marketing tool for Acrobat, and Adobe want to sell more copies, not less. I think it best  to assume you will not be able to do this in Reader, but of course what Adobe choose to negotiate is their prerogative. 

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