App vendors have traditionally used the Netscape Plugin Application Programming Interface (NPAPI) to develop cross-platform plugins to display content within a browser. To display PDF documents within all major browsers, Adobe uses NPAPI-based plugins shipped with Adobe Acrobat and Adobe Acrobat Reader. Most modern browsers have withdrawn the support for NPAPI-based plug-ins. In addition, mobile browsers and new-age desktop browsers, such as Microsoft Edge, don’t support NPAPI-based plugins.

The following table summarizes the support for NPAI-based plug-ins by browser vendors.

Browser (Base)

Support for Adobe Acrobat Reader plug-in

Windows Internet Explorer

Not supported in Internet Explorer 5.5 SP2 and later

Mozilla Firefox

Not supported in Firefox 52 and later

Google Chrome

Not supported in Chrome 45 and later
Apple Safari Supported but must be enabled manually on Safari 10.x and later
Microsoft Edge Not supported

Adobe Experience Manager (AEM) forms and Adobe LiveCycle Enterprise Suite, support several workflows that rely on NPAPI-based browser plugins to display PDF documents and forms within the browser window. These workflows are impacted as browser vendors withdraw support for NPAPI-based plugins. Moreover, without NPAPI-based PDF plugins, web browsers may open PDFs using the default PDF viewers built into the browsers. However, these PDF viewers have limited support for PDF forms. Eventually, it may leave end-users confused and unable to complete their tasks.

This document outlines features, workflows, and scenarios in AEM forms and LiveCycle that are impacted due to this change. It also suggests alternative approaches and workflows to mitigate disruptions.

HTML Workspace

AEM forms workspace (or HTML workspace in LiveCycle) is a processes and tasks management application. It allows you to start a business process and take actions on tasks assigned to you.

Issue

Workspace processes and tasks often have associated forms that users can access from within the workspace window in a browsers. Forms can be rendered in PDF and HTML formats. In absence of the support for NPAPI-based PDF plugins in browsers, the PDF forms will fail to render.    

Recommendation

If your workspace processes rely on PDF forms, it is recommended to switch to HTML5 forms. HTML5 forms renders XFA form templates in HTML5, a technology supported by modern desktop and mobile browsers. It preserves the layout, scripting logic, and validations present in PDF forms. However, some features in PDF forms, such as Barcodes, are not available in HTML5 forms.

To render forms in HTML5 instead of the PDF format, you must update the default renderer process configurations to HTML in your business processes using Workbench. To do so, perform the following steps for all the AEM forms and LiveCycle processes:

  1. In Workbench application, open a process that uses PDF forms.

  2. Select a start point that uses PDF forms and open the Process Properties window.

    Process_Properties
  3. Navigate to Presentation & Data > application assets > Action Profile and click the Manage Action Profiles button. A dialog box appears.

  4. In the Manage Action Profiles dialog box, change the Default renderer process configurations option to HTML.

  5. Repeat step 2-4 for all the start points available in a process.

Flex Workspace

Prior to the introduction of HTML workspace, Flex workspace was the application used to manage LiveCycle processes and tasks. Flex workspace was deprecated in LiveCycle ES4 SP1. While it is still available for users who upgraded from LiveCycle to AEM forms, it is not available in fresh AEM forms installations.

Issue

LiveCycle customers who still use Flex workspace to manage processes and tasks are impacted by the withdrawal of support for NPAPI-based plugins by browser vendors. Going forward, the PDF forms associated with tasks will fail to open in Flex workspace. Moreover, Flex workspace doesn't support HTML forms.

Recommendation

If you are on a LiveCycle release earlier than LiveCycle ES4 SP1, consider upgrading to LiveCycle ES4 SP1 or AEM forms. Once upgraded, use HTML workspace to manage your processes and use HTML5 forms instead of PDF forms. For more information about using HTML5 forms in workspace, see recommendations for HTML workspace in the preceding section.

Correspondence Management

Correspondence Management solution in AEM forms and LiveCycle helps create, manage, and deliver personalized and interactive customer correspondences.

Issue

Correspondence Management provides a browser-based Create Correspondence user interface to create a correspondence. When you create a correspondence, the user interface shows a WYSIWYG PDF that gets updated in real time as you edit a correspondence. As browser vendors withdraw support for NPAPI-based plugins, the PDF will fail to render in the Create Correspondence UI.

Recommendation

AEM Forms brings in the functionality to view correspondences in WYSIWYG HTML5 format in the Create Correspondence UI. Also, it allows you to generate and view a flattened PDF, which works fine in browser PDF viewers. Therefore, it is recommended to upgrade to AEM 6.1 forms feature pack 1 and later from earlier AEM forms and LiveCycle releases.

Rights Management or Document Security

AEM forms document security and LiveCycle rights management allow you to apply predefined security settings to maintain confidentiality by ensuring controlled use of documents, including PDFs and Microsoft Office file formats.

Issue

When opening a rights-protected PDF in non-Adobe PDF viewers, the first page is blank or the application aborts without opening the document.

Recommendation

Add a page zero to rights-protected PDFs. A page zero is a wrapper document or a cover page that appears in non-Adobe PDF viewers when trying to open a rights-protected document. In page zero, you can instruct your recipients or users to download the document and view it in Adobe Reader. You can also provide a URL to download Adobe Reader. Page zero is not displayed when opening a protected document in Adobe Acrobat or Reader.

However, the page zero functionality has the following limitations:

  • There are several methods you can use to protect your documents with AEM forms document security. These include using the JAVA SDK supplied with document security, C++ SDK, JAVA or C++ Portable Protection Library, Acrobat, or document security services. However, page zero feature is available only with document security JAVA SDK and document security services.
  • You may have put proxy single sign-on authentication in place for your recipients to access rights-protected PDFs in browser without any authentication. However, this mechanism will not work when opening protected PDFs in Acrobat or Reader.

Forms Manager

AEM forms and LiveCycle provide forms management interface to form administrators, authors, and developers to create and manage forms and related assets.

Issue

Forms manager allows you to view a wide range of document formats, such as PDF forms, XDPs, XSDs, and so on. As browser vendors withdraw support for NPAPI-based plugins, you can no longer open PDF forms in forms manager UI.

Recommendation

You can continue to download PDF forms and view them in Acrobat or Reader. Alternatively, you can upgrade to AEM forms and redesign your PDF forms as XDP. Once you have the XDP files in forms manager, you can render them as HML5 form or convert to adaptive forms.

Forms Portal

AEM forms and LiveCycle provide forms portal component that equips web developers to create and customize a forms portal on websites authored using AEM.

Issue

Forms portal allows listing of PDF and HTML forms on the portal. However, the portal will not display PDF forms as the support for NPAPI-based plugins in browsers is withdrawn.

Recommendation

In forms portal Search & Lister component, specify the render profile as HTML for XDP forms. Also, you can upgrade to AEM Forms and redesign your PDF forms as XDPs. You can then use XDPs to render as HTML5 forms or convert to adaptive forms.

Digital Signatures

Issue

Unable to use PDF Form Digital Signatures workflow via Workspace

Recommendation

For Workflows using Digital Signatures, HTML5 forms cannot be used. For such workflows, use email-based submissions.

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