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With over 500 million copies distributed so far, the chance is extremely good that the computer you use to read this Weblog has Adobe Reader installed. However, you probably don’t know that Adobe Reader has hidden functionality! As you may know the primary use of Reader is to read PDF documents, but Reader is not just a PDF browser. It provides also collaboration capabilities and acts as a client for PDF forms. Therefore Adobe Reader is an important component of Interactive Forms based on Adobe software in SAP NetWeaver 04. So now you’re probably asking where to find that functionality? Which secret key combination do I use to access it? The advanced Reader functionality is enabled by “Usage Rights”. The Usage Rights are keys, similar to digital signatures, and are embedded in the PDF document. If Reader (for use with SAP, you need version 6.0.2) detects the Usage Rights, it enables new functionality only for that specific document. There is a sample of this functionality located here if you want to see the process in action – a sample that may seem frighteningly familiar to my US-based friends! 


Let’s discuss the functionalities that can be turned on with Reader Rights… 


Local Save: Now, you might say “Wait a minute I can save PDF documents with Reader”. Actually what you can do is save a local copy of the PDF document you are looking at. This “save” functionality, however, saves the original PDF and none of the changes you made to it such as data entered into a form. This is especially critical if you have a PDF form, and after filling it out partially, you want to save it on your machine to complete it later. If you have a PDF document enabled with the “Local Save” Reader Right you can save the PDF document with changes (like form fill-ins and annotations) locally. 

Signing: Adobe Reader provides a complete set of Digital Signature functionality. You can create your own Digital ID, request a Digital ID from an external trust service (e.g. VeriSign, Entrust, or RSA) or import an existing Digital ID from the file system. If you already have a certificate in your Windows Certificate Store you can also use this as your Digital ID to sign PDF documents. 

Commenting: The Reader Right for commenting enables a number of useful collaboration utilities in Reader. This includes the ability to highlight, cross out or underline text, attach sticky notes with comments anywhere in a document and stamp the document. The comments can be also exported or imported for further processing. Finally this Reader Right also allows the user to add an attachment (e.g. another PDF document, a picture or a graphic) to the document. 

Submitting: This Reader Right is essential for many interactive form workflow scenarios. It allows the user to submit a completed form via e-mail or the Web directly within Acrobat Reader. The form designer can include different types of submit buttons in the form (e.g. always submit email to a fixed email address or allow the user to specify the email address when hitting “submit”), which are enabled in Reader with this Usage Right.


The Reader Rights are persistent with the document. For example, if a partially completed form is routed to another party, their Reader will recognize the rights and turn on the added functionality.

So now that you know and want to test this secret, the only remaining question is “How do I apply Reader Rights to PDF documents?” The great news for SAP customers is that the ability to apply Reader Rights is part of Interactive Forms based on Adobe software in SAP NetWeaver 04 (SAP Web AS 6.40). Interactive Forms you design using Adobe Designer embedded in SAP NetWeaver Developer Studio and render with the Adobe document services in SAP Web AS are automatically enabled with all Reader Rights for you. The Adobe document services are not yet part of the SAP Web AS sneak preview download on SDN, but will be with the next version in the fall. This will allow you to test drive Interactive Forms with Reader Rights using SAP NetWeaver. Additionally we will post a Reader Rights Certificate for testing purposes on SDN which will need to be loaded into Adobe document services.


While mySAP ERP 2004 provides many business scenarios using Interactive Forms out-of-the-box, a lot of customers have asked me how they can use the new Interactive Forms with existing R/3 applications. Therefore, I would like to encourage you to vote for my SAP TechEd presentation proposal (“Extend your SAP R/3 4.x applications with interactive PDF forms”). I plan to discuss how you can connect your existing SAP R/3 applications with SAP Web AS 6.40 to enable interactive form workflows.


P.S.: Here are some additional PDF sample documents with Usage Rights 

Mortgage Application 

Advertising Copy 


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  1. Former Member
    It would be interesting to know how many people have acrobat reader 6. After I installed the new version, I found that it had too long startup time due to all the plugins (could probably have disabled some of them), so I reverted back to 5.
    1. Matthias Zeller Post author
      I would be definitly interested in this as well. Especially among the SAP developer community. BTW you might be happy to hear that for Reader 7 a main focus is to significantly improve startup times.
  2. In all of the documentation available, where is the best place to get the details on setting the usage rights for webdynpro created pdf forms?
    1. Matthias Zeller Post author
      Actually the usage rights for PDF forms in Web Dynpro get set automatically on the server for all forms (with all rights). At this point in time there is no option to change it.
  3. Former Member
    Hi Matthias,

    Very information blog.

    I have a question for you though, my client wants to capture signatures from the tablet pc to Adobe Form’s signature field. Does “Adobe Document Services” provide any API’s for this purposes?

    1. Matthias Zeller Post author
      Hello Richa,
      I just noticed this comment while reviewing some of my older Blog entries. Adobe Acrobat and Reader only support Digital Signatures using electronic certificates out of the box. If you want to capture a handwritten signature on a tablet PC and use at as a digital signature in a PDF form I recommend an add-on solution by our partner CIC ( Check the Sign-it Product which can be used with PDF documents (
  4. Former Member
    Hi Matthias,
    Very informative Blog
    Could you explain how exactly can we use digital signatures in the interactive forms and what all infrastructure is required for its usage. If SSL and Cryptographic kit would be required?
    Additionally, I have a scenario in which i get the dynamic form filled up with some data from R/3 then i store the binary pdfsource in a java table.After that, when i render the form again using the same pdfsource in UsePdf mode, I am unable to save the further changes to R/3 because the context has been reinitialized. Is there any solution for this problem? 



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