Category Archives: Javelin PDF readers

Javelin, Drumlin and Operating System updates: Windows, iOS and OSX

UPDATE 1: Javelin for iOS (a universal version, so iPhones are supported as well as iPADs) is now available on Apple’s iOS App Store and is iOS9 compatible

UPDATE 2 (revised 9th Jan 2016): Javelin for OSX 10.11 is available as via the Javelin downloads page on our website and is now on Apple’s Mac App Store. Javelin does work with El Capitan’s split-screen view, which you also invoke by pressing for longer on the green button and then choosing a screen half where you want Javelin and then another program for the other half.

And now for the full story…

As is ever the case, Apple and Microsoft continue to battle it out with ever more sophisticated updates (upgrades?!) to their operating systems. In nearly every instance this results in problems for end users who are brave enough to update their systems, especially for those “early adopters” who have not waited for the “updates to the updates” first.  The biggest problem for third party applications providers is the lack of backward compatibility with some of these updates. Comments on aspects of the most recent set that may affect users of our Javelin and Drumlin software products is provided below:

iOS 9: again, with essentially no notice (less than a week), on Sept 16th Apple released iOS9 on an unsuspecting public with numerous side effects – and as at 3rd Oct two OS updates to iOS 9 had already been issued by Apple and a new main version, iOS 9.1 was released on Oct 26th.

Where existing apps crash or fail to run at all, in most cases a simple re-install from the App Store will fix the problem – but the App Store app itself has had problems, so no guarantees there! Users who have updated to iOS9 and find the catalog facility results in their app exits suddenly or similar issues occur can resolve this by simply selecting the Grid/List icon on the home page and switching to the List view (see below).

homepagetoolbar

For most versions of the iOS software the grid/list icon shown above is always enabled, but for the Taxbooks app it is turned off as default, but can be turned on via the Settings app on iPADs and iPhones, as shown below:

Taxbooks-Settings

We have also had some users remove the existing app (deleting it and its files) and re-installing the current version of the app from Apple’s app store, and it then works again after re-authorizing their file or files … so it looks like some of the iOS9 library code is not fully backwards compatible.

Windows 10, and Win7/8 updates to 32/64 bit handling: at the end of July Microsoft released Windows 10, a major new version of its desktop operating system. As part of the move to Windows 10 changes have been made to the way entries in the registry are handled for 32- and 64-bit computers. Along with other changes this has meant we have had to create a new version of Javelin for Windows and Javelin Pro for Windows, specifically for the newer OS versions, including Win10. In addition, the so-called free upgrade to Windows 10 can result in a mess for end users, which takes a lot to sort out. In the case of Javelin, re-authorization will do the trick for most users after updating to the latest versions from our website, whereas with Drumlin, in most cases it works just fine but in some instances it is necessary to completely remove all traces of earlier installations and re-install the latest update from our website, and re-register if necessary (retaining your previous registration data from the apps/roaming/ folder should avoid this step). AdminApp is unaffected by these OS updates.

OSX 10.11 (El Capitan): Some users with OSX10.11 reported that they cannot authorize drmz files with Javelin on 10.11 systems – a version that resolves this is available on our website at: http://www.drumlinsecurity.com/javelindownloads.html and is now available on the Mac’s AppStore

The list of what’s new in OSX 10.11 is provided by Apple here:

http://www.apple.com/uk/osx/whats-new/

There is no indication in this list of changes in the way the operating system works. However, changes have been made to underlying features of OSX (and iOS9) which are described by Apple in technical notes here:

https://developer.apple.com/library/prerelease/mac/releasenotes/MacOSX/WhatsNewInOSX/Articles/MacOSX10_11.html

and tucked away within these release notes are details of a facility called App Transport Security (ATS). Essentially this introduces a mechanism whereby any application that asks for data from a standard web address starting with http:// will generate an error and may be prevented from continuing to work. Apple would like developers to switch to using https:// web addresses for anything that involves data retrieval. Javelin (all platforms) currently retrieves data from a standard http:// address during document authorization, although we may amend this shortly as our DRM servers all have SSL/https: support now.

… more on these OS updates as they occur!

Kindle Fire HD – test drive for PDFs and secure PDFs

The Kindle Fire range of devices is Amazon’s answer to demands for a more functional device than the basic Kindle. All the more recent versions run an amended variant of the Android operating system, tailored to be Kindle-like, but also capable of running a wide range of applications. However, these applications are generally only available from the Amazon app store, not from Google Play or other Android app stores. Furthermore, Amazon’s terms and conditions for apps hosted on their App Store include requirements to pay them a substantial royalty if an app from the store is used to “sell” an item, such as a publication or training course materials. So what is the solution for PDF publishers? Well, Javelin for Android will run on Kindle Fire devices – see below for more details.

kindlefire

Javelin for Kindle

The Javelin secure PDF reader for Android is compatible with Kindle Fire (KF) and  is easy to install and run…  The screen resolution on the KF 7inch model is 800×1280, so not bad (much cheaper but not nearly as good as the new iPADs), and its dual 1.5Ghz processor is fast enough for even the most demanding of PDFs. We tested it on a couple of the largest documents distributed by our customers. These books have around 1000-2000+ pages and a large number of images and links. They load in a couple of seconds from completion of downloading, and because the entire document is held in virtual memory, they are almost instant when accessing any page.

Screenshot_2014-10-11-12-33-22

Installing and running the Javelin app

Installation of Javelin on the Kindle is quick and simple – full details are provided here. To run the app you simply touch the Javelin icon and the Home page opens. For many users the documents they wish to view will be included within a catalog, either the built-in Catalog or a separate downloadable catalog of books, training materials or other documents. The publisher creates these and explains to end users how to download them. Touching the cover of a title in a catalog then downloads that book or document.For standard PDFs the file may then be opened immediately, whilst for secure PDFs (drmz files) an authorization code is usually required, after which the file may be opened and read.

Conclusion

If the Kindle Fire is your preferred reading device for ePUB books, newspapers and other materials, it can also be used for standard and secured PDF reading. As most Kindle Fire devices are quite small and not very high resolution it is best used for PDFs where the font is larger, the page sizes are smaller than standard, and/or the materials are graphical. It is also good for holding reference documents, where the user wishes to select an item and can zoom in to check details, rather than reading lengthy blocks of text.

Screen capture protection

A very common question we are asked is “can we include protection against screen capture” for our PDFs on a cross-platform basis? The simple answer is “no”, whatever system or supplier you look at and whatever others may claim! A little background should help clarify this.

With the introduction of screens for interacting with computers in the 1980s it was necessary to provide dedicated hardware components to manage the display of text and graphics. As PCs and similar devices became more advanced, graphical demands became greater and specialized “graphics cards” (and later, “chipsets”) were included to provide this functionality. The cards and chipsets included both processing and memory handling functions, and software tools soon became available that would access the stored information directly. These were initially utility programs, and then rapidly this functionality was included in third party photo/image processing software and built-in tools (e.g. the Snipping tool in Windows 7 and Grab on Mac OSX 10). This allowed users to display information on screen and then “capture” all or part of the screen for subsequent editing. The user did not need to understand where this information came from, just that it was readily accessible. The operating system was essentially bypassed by the screen capture software, which could go straight to the hardware memory to read the information that was displayed visually on-screen.

To prevent such programs from being used to capture screens mechanisms had to be found that interfered with the way they worked. The principal mechanism was to identify that a process was running that was known to have screen capture functionality, and then to refuse to display some or all of the screen until the offending process (program) was terminated. This worked fine for some years, until new devices, operating systems and ways of working were introduced in the last few years.

With the introduction of mobile devices (tablets) manufacturers quickly realized that many customers wanted to capture screens for onward processing. Instead of leaving this to third party software providers they included combinations of buttons that could be pressed to screen grab and save to the local image “Gallery”, in the same way that photographs taken with built-in cameras were stored. This hardware-based screen capture facility meant that information display, such as a PDF on screen, could always be captured and no software mechanism could prevent it. In parallel, more advanced versions of desktop operating systems from Apple and Microsoft started to include screen capture software as standard, running in a background thread or process, that end users were completely unaware of. An example is Microsoft’s OneNote software, which even when closed still retains a background process for screen capture. These changes to the hardware and operating system environment have meant that mechanisms to prevent screen capture either no longer work in a cross-platform world or create more problems than they solve. However, limited scale protection is possible for specific operating systems, notably Windows variants, where systems such as Javelin now incorporate some quite clever procedures for preventing screen capture if this option is specified for secured PDFs.

A further development has been the introduction of much higher resolution screen displays. Until very recently all computer screens were less than 100dpi (dots or pixels per inch). This compares with typical print output which is at least 300dpi, and high quality print and image data which is 1200-2400dpi. High resolution screens require far more memory and processing, which is why they have only started appearing in the latest range of tablet and mobile phone devices (e.g. iPhone6 has a 400dpi screen). Such devices can be scanned or digitally photographed, so the display itself becomes like a paper copy of the source material, and nothing can prevent the use of such external mechanisms from capturing screens at a resolution that enables reading and/or conversion via OCR to structured text.

The only workable cross-platform solution to such issues is to add static and dynamic watermarking to secured PDFs. This information then forms part of the in-memory and on-screen data, and as such will always be included in any capture process, and can be difficult or impossible to remove. It is even possible to include invisible watermarks, using special characters or hidden graphics. The use of watermarking is discussed in another of our blog entries – please see here for more details.

Drumlin Security’s Javelin PDF readers support several mechanisms for content and screen capture protection. The first is the displayed information is essentially just a graphic image, rather than selectable text – there is no facility for text selection nor any support for the clipboard (i.e. copy/paste functions) and all information is held in memory, with no temporary disk files that include decrypted data. The second is support for static and dynamic watermarking, as discussed above. Finally, recently enhanced, there is the screen capture protection option. If you have any questions regarding this blog item, do please contact us or add your own comment to this entry.

Javelin updates – Aug/Sept 2014

In our Summer Newsletter we featured the new version of Javelin PDF reader for Windows, with its many enhancements. Since that release we have improved it further with updates that improve its print handling. Related updates to print output from the Mac version of Javelin have also been made.

In addition all technology platforms have received updates to Javelin to handle a wider range of languages that use special characters (accented and non Latin-based character sets) in the document body and in watermarks.The Android update is currently in beta testing – if you would like to join our Android beta testing program please contact us. An iOS8 release of Javelin is expected post the release of iOS8 (the current release works with iOS7 but we have a version built for iOS8 with a number of enhancements to the iOS7 release. Again, as per Javelin for Android, if you would like to be a beta tester for our iOS version of Javelin please contact us.

Javelin PDF Reader V2 release

Javelin PDF for Windows has just had a major upgrade – it is often the first of our PDF readers that publishers experiment with, so we have been working hard to provide a whole series of functional enhancements that customers have requested. The updates improve the functionality whilst retaining the speed of the reader and its tiny size. Further developments are planned for this year..

Please download and try the new version of Javelin for Windows – you can install this new version over the existing version you have – it will not affect your existing saved data or file authorizations. A User Guide in PDF format can be downloaded from the Documentation page of our website and is included in the new kit.

Changes for the new release (Javelin for Windows V2) include:

  • Annotation: probably the most frequently requested functional enhancement, this new release provides a simple annotation facility for pdf, drmz and drmx files (not exe files). Annotations are stored separately, in the same directory as the drmx/drmz file they apply to (the directory must be available for writing to, e.g. the Documents folder for the current user. A new tab section is provided in addition to the document outline/navigation tree tab which shows the note headings throughout the document (see screenshot below). These can be clicked to move the relevant page with the note displayed. Notes are added via right click with the mouse, clicking on the toolbar icon or via the Tools menu.

  • Enhanced zoom facilities: these include a drop-down zoom-level selection box, plus a new feature, marquee zoom (see screenshot, above). The latter feature enables you to select and area of the screen and zoom straight to that region. The special Marquee zoom icon is shown to the right of the drop-down zoom selector box. The Hand icon enables you to return to non-zoomed mode where you can drag the page around. A ‘ping’ is sounded if the zoom level exceeds a certain level. These features are similar to those provided within Adobe’s latest reader software
  • Extended support for Chinese, Korean, Japanese and other non-latin based systems. This enables certain regional variants of Windows to authorize secure PDF files without needing to switch to an English-language regional variant temporarily.
  • Support for extended character sets in navigation trees (outline/bookmark trees): navigation trees are of major value in electronic versions of ebooks and other documents. However, there are many variants of how these are implemented, and in some instances accented and other characters embedded in these trees mean that they do not link to pages as expected. With the latest updates such special and accented characters will now be processed and links established
  • Built-in file downloader: a new facility is available on the tools menu and toolbar (see above) to enable a file to be downloaded directly to Javelin and opened – currently .pdf, .drmz and .drmx files are supported
  • Properties option on the File menu, providing file properties for both PDF and DRM files.
  • Un-authorize option, with centralized logging: this is to enable an end user to demonstrate that they have removed access to a file from their system, even after initially authorizing it.
  • Activity log: Enhanced activity log information (available for viewing via the AdminApp) to identify the exact Microsoft Windows OS version and deviceID in use (all other OS variants are alresdy logged in this way)
  • Intelligent watermarking: Amendment of the %I field in the intelligent watermarking facility to specifiy the ID of the computer being used.
  • Extra security features: additional security features have been built into Javelin for Windows (more details available on request!).
  • Minor tweaks  – cosmetic and other minor changes
  • Windows tablet devices: the new MS Windows “Surface” tablets running Windows 8.1, for example, can be used with the latest versions of Javelin. The built-in keyboard and mouse or attached devices for keyboard and mouse operation should be used (not full touch screen support at present).