Acrobat Reader 9.2 Custom Install + School Reports

A custom installer for Adobe Reader 9.2 with all the crap removed.

This installer is a customised installer for Acrobat Reader 9.2.
It has updates disabled, features disabled, Customer Improvement thing disabled, Autoaccepts the EULA, unattended and very fast install and all installs through a single doubleclick.

Click here to Download it.

Continue Reading to find out why I built it

Why PDF?
For years, school reports have been done with MS Office, we decided it was time to change and move to Open Office as it was free, and we didn’t really want to spend the huge amounts of money to upgrade to MS Office on every machine in the school.  The only problem was that OpenOffice doesn’t handle Macros and forms very well.
Thus, we needed something different to do our reports in.
The head office decided it was time to move to PDF format, as they have wonderful forms that are *supposed* to be fantastic!

Why Not PDF?
But see, we run Foxit, and Foxit doesn’t display the forms very well.
The machines that would be doing the reports vary, as the teachers would usually use their own laptops for doing them. They varied from PC’s running Foxit, Acrobat Reader 5, 6, 7, 8 and 9 to Macs using only Preview.
Problem is, all of these would have issues.

Foxit didn’t have spellchecking, and random display bugs with the form.
Acrobat Reader 5-8 would only let you open the document once to edit it, once you save it it was locked like that and you could no longer reopen it and change values in the form.
Thus, the Acrobat 9.2 Customer Installer was built. Adobe provide the tools on their website for customising the installer, so I downloaded that and got to work.
The problems I had with the basic installer were that it took ages to install, it had all this extra crap that we didn’t need and most of all, it would jump up at people and go “HEY, THERE’S UPDATES AVAILABLE”.

But all is not as well as we would hope
I still did face problems with the reports, even after installing it on everyones machine. Sometimes it wouldn’t open in Adobe 9.2 and instead it would open in an older version or Foxit. Other times people say that they can’t edit the document anymore and I’m sure that Adobe 9.2 is the only version on their computer.
Another issue is the lack of a “Mail Merge” style way to input data onto the forms, we have one of the office ladies fill in the details such as the student name and other bits and pieces for 600 students, this takes quite a while.

The perfect world scenario
I spoke to the IT Guy from a nearby secondary school, they actually built a PHP Based reports system, you import all the students in from any source you like (CSV file or from the student database) and it gives each teacher the class of their kids and a form to fill out similar to the Adobe Acrobat one.
As for exporting the data out of this onto paper to give the parents, you could build it either into a HTML document that you can print, or you could get snazzy and put it together with LaTEX and export to pdf.
I imagine a system like this taking only a few weeks to put together, once it’s done all you need is the list of students (we could export all the kids onto a CSV file very quickly) and to “set up” the reports, import the file, assign teachers to each grade and you’re done (say, 30min to 1hour setup each semester). At the end of the reporting period, you export the database and save it away somewhere safe and you’ve got a good digital permanent record of the grades for all the kids.

Enjoy the Adobe Acrobat 9.2 Installer.