Wednesday, 19 October 2011

Application of the Month: Adobe Acrobat 5.05, Part 1

This month Carl Bennett, Technical Specialist at ChangeBASE, has taken an in depth look into how Adobe Acrobat 5.05 behaves on different platforms, and the compatibility issues that may be encountered during a migration project.


This is an old version of Adobe’s Acrobat Standard PDF writer. As Adobe did not make an MSI to distribute the software, this one was made by one of our partners using an old version of AdminStudio, making it a typical example of the type of package that our customers use AOK to analyse.

With any package of this age we would expect to see some issues; some of which we have solutions for, and others which will turn out to be more critical.  The software in question was never designed to run on modern 64-bit operating systems or in a multi-user environment, and was similarly never intended for virtualisation.
It is my intention to run the Adobe Acrobat MSI through all the major, relevant tests that AOK can perform in order to see how the application would behave in various modern environments, and provide you with some explanations of the meaning of the results.
This is how AOK looks after running the tests against the MSI:
As you can see, the results show 42 Reds and 63 Ambers - not a great start! That means 42 potential problems for which there are no obvious fixes and 63 issues which do have solutions, some of which can be automated by AOK.

MSI Installer Integrity
These results show how the MSI fares when tested against the Windows Installer Internal Consistency Evaluators, a standard set of checks that look at various aspects of the database itself.  All of the AOK checks in this category have automated solutions.

This looks like an error introduced during the repackaging stage.  Something or someone failed to set a table reference that is needed for .SVG files to be handled properly by a web browser.
The checkbox next to the issue indicates that there is an automatic fix for this issue.  Selecting it and pushing Fix-It corrects the problem and saves an MST transform that now passes the ICE validation checks.

Virtualisation – App-V
These checks look to see how well the package will behave when sequenced using the Microsoft App-V virtualisation solution.  Many of these AOK checks offer automated solutions, however in this case the ones that have been flagged up mostly do not.

The AOK checks here have identified five categories of issues. Some are fixable, some have automated solutions and others indicate that parts of this package will not work inside App-V.

DCOM Analysis
DCOM is a technology that currently does not work inside an App-V sequence.  AOK has identified two such issues within the Adobe Acrobat MSI.

It is very difficult to test for DCOM issues.  The only sure way is to run the application through its normal test plan, keeping an eye out for strange behaviour.  It is normally used in situations where the computer needs to communicate to programs running on other computers, so knowing a bit about how the software works helps in this situation. 

Microsoft Office and Internet Explorer Add-in detection
This test looks for elements of a software package that are designed to integrate with Office and Internet Explorer.  It looks for plugins, extensions, templates and all kinds of files that should normally be integrated.
Here you can see that add-ins to both Powerpoint and Excel have been detected.  There is no automated solution here because the fix is not something that can be done to the MSI to prepare it for sequencing.  Instead, you should make a DSC between this package and Office after sequencing so that the add-ins remain available.

That's it for today - part 2 will be up next week, or view the full assessment here! 

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