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Foxit Reader for PDFs in the enterprise

Derek Schauland discovered a PDF replacement program for Adobe Reader in his office. Here are his thoughts on the Foxit Enterprise Reader.

Lately I have been struggling with issues getting Adobe Reader to install correctly on client machines. Because of these issues, I have begun looking for another solution to the PDF problem. My search for a lighter PDF application with less problems at deployment lead me to Foxit Reader Enterprise.

The basics

Foxit Reader is a free PDF reader like Adobe Reader, but I have found it to be have a much smaller footprint. The application opens faster and has a tabbed interface, which allows multiple PDF files to be open in the same session. When I installed the program on a laptop in a pinch, I was pleasantly surprised at the speed and overall functionality. The thing I couldn't figure out was how to quickly get the reader application out to multiple users.

This is where the enterprise application came in. When I landed on the page for applying to download the enterprise version, I expected to get an email from the sales team with a cost per user. I did receive an email from the sales team, but it also included a link to the download and some documents to get me started.

The enterprise version remains a free download, but is contained in a ready-to-deploy MSI file. The installation supports switches to allow more options to be configured during installation. The features available via these switches are:

  • Installdir - the installation directory used for Foxit Reader
  • Allusers - specifies whether the application should be installed for all users
  • Desktop_Shortcut - specifies if the installer should create a desktop shortcut
  • Startmenu_shortcut - specifies if the installer should create a start menu icon
  • Makedefault - this option sets Foxit Reader as the default
  • ARHELPLINK - configures default help link to go to foxitsoftware.com
  • View_in_browser - allows PDF files to be viewed in a browser
  • Safemode - enables trusted file mode, enabled by default
  • Keypath - sets the location of a license file

In addition to being created for deployment, Foxit Enterprise brings some features to PDF files that Adobe sells at a bit of a premium. These include:

  • Commenting
  • Annotation
  • Drawing
  • Highlighting
  • Conversion to text files

In addition to these included features, FoxIt Reader supports a good amount of add-ons as well. These can enhance the functionality of the PDF experience and are available as free downloads. Click here for a list of add-ons.

Another feature that is handy is the Read Out Loud feature. It reads the text of the PDF open in Foxit reader. Allowing Foxit to read PDFs will allow you to work on other projects. This feature works pretty well, however this might work better in a mobile solution to allow a PDF to be read from a mobile device -- perhaps in a future release.

What's the bottom line

So far my experience across a bunch of workstations with Foxit Reader has been great. The application starts immediately and does everything most users need to do with a PDF. Sure there are some, perhaps in graphics departments and web design shops that might need the full on capabilities of Adobe Acrobat, but for the general office worker, Foxit hits the sweet spot for me.

About

Derek Schauland has been tinkering with Windows systems since 1997. He has supported Windows NT 4, worked phone support for an ISP, and is currently the IT Manager for a manufacturing company in Wisconsin.

10 comments
kvankerr
kvankerr

The lightest PDF reader I know is Sumatra PDF. It looks a bit outdated but is installed in less then a minute and blazing fast.

Gisabun
Gisabun

First, I'm not sure why it took long for Derek Schauland to find Foxit. Second, I am annoyrede with FoxIt trying to push theur full products when all you want to do is read and print. Third, I had a case where malformed PDFs [created from a scanner] would choke Adobe Reader when you tried to print [would leave crap in the print spooler folder and therefore shut down the printing on that computer until you deleted the files manually] but worked fine with Foxit. Forth, haven't trried a recent version but wasn't it the FoxIt reader that installed some crap unless you did a custom install and unchecked something. Fifth, FoxIt Reader is almost as buggy as Adobe Reader. Sixth. If you can't deploy FoxIt reader via AD policies or third party policies, it's useless. FoxIt gives a MSI file but is it compatible with AD.

TexasJetter
TexasJetter

Although I don't think Nitro PDF Reader has the enterprise option mentioned in the article. My only complaint (with both Adobe replacements) is that it cannot handle some of the more complex PDF files, line ones with password protection. It doesn't happen with all password protected PDFs, but some of the ones we deal with seem to only work with Adobe.

michel
michel

We use it to open most of our pdfs, but often you need to reopen files in acrobat to print the more complex pdf files correctly.

MyopicOne
MyopicOne

Good program, priced appropriately, and the extra features are good ones.

LR-Grapeape
LR-Grapeape

I too am fed up with Adobe and rolled out PDF X-Change viewer from Tracker Software. It is lighter, works better, and has some wonderful commenting features as compared to Adobe Reader. It is free for Enterprise use. My only issue is that it seems Adobe has entrenched itself in some web applications and seems to be calling certain specific Adobe API's or something. Maybe it is a javascript issue or how particular websites were developed. I've had issues with employees pulling up certain documents from the web. Not when the link is an actual PDF, but when the document is created in the fly. Installing Adobe fixes the issue. Has anyone else had these issues? I have tried Foxit in the past and was pleased with it.

bikingbill
bikingbill

I have Adobe Reader in my standard PC build, and to be fair it usually works. But for the last six months whenever Adobe fails I don't bother with it and install Foxit reader instead. It has been faultless in that time. Users also seem to be happy with it.

aksalaymeh
aksalaymeh

It is amazing masterpiece for its purpose,light, comprehensive and covers all aspects I am using foxit reader for a long time

TNT
TNT

I tried Foxit a few years ago but was annoyed by its popup messages and how it hijacked a lot of browser functionality. Hopefully those tactics are behind (beneath?) them now. I was impressed with its capability however. @nate.irvin: Chrome works great on some PDF files, but I often run into warnings like "Parts of this PDF document could not be displayed. Open in Adobe Reader?" If its not 100% capable as a PDF reader then its not good enough.

nate.irvin
nate.irvin

After getting very frustrated with Adobe Reader myself, I found Foxit and it became my PDF reader for a while. Eventually I began having trouble with stability - it would crash a lot, especially when opening larger PDFs. Now, granted this was some years back, so they may have fixed those issues. At present though, I'm actually using Google Chrome for all my PDF needs; I registered the .pdf file type with Chrome, and let it do the rest.