It does not do everything needed to debug code, but it does provide a quick and easy way to perform most of the code development tasks you’ll ever need to do. In this article, we’ll cover setting up and using this essential tool.
Note: Special instructions for using the Console Window with Reader are provided at the end of the article. If this is your first time using the Console Window, you will need to enable and configure it from Acrobat’s Preferences settings.
Depending on your platform, use one of the following methods to open the Preferences dialog Figure 1.
First, you can enable it temporarily in order to change the “Exception” options. I prefer the options as they are shown in Figure 1, but uncheck this option before exiting the preferences. The reason for not enabling the debugger is because it has a significant negative impact on Acrobat performance, and can even cause Acrobat to crash. So the only reason you would actually turn on the debugger is if you needed to use the debugging tools.
So the keyboard shortcut is not always valid, but the tool button will always work. The tool panels are a new feature introduced in Acrobat X, so displaying the Console in earlier versions is slightly different. The Shortcut key is the same, but instead of a tool button, these earlier versions use a menu item. The Console Window section of the Debugger is in the bottom portion of the dialog, in the area labeled View.
In Figure 3, the View pull-down selection list is set to Console, meaning the Console Window is being shown. This area is also used to show the Script window for displaying runtime code when the debugger tools are enabled. In the figure, the Console is being shown immediately after Acrobat was started.
Either of the two following actions will cause Acrobat to run the code. Acrobat always attempts to convert the result of an execution into text so that it can be displayed. Sometimes the result of an operation is not as clean or obvious as a number. Let’s try something that doesn’t have such a well-defined result.
The next line of example code is something that might be used in a real script. It assigns a simple addition to a variable named ‘sum’. As shown in Figure 6, the return value from this line of code is “undefined.
The calculation is executed and applied to the declared variable, sum. However, the first and primary operation on the line is the variable declaration, so this is the operation that returns a value to the Console Window. Unfortunately, variable declarations do not return a value. To overcome this small issue, the Console widow displays “undefined.
We can use it anytime we want to execute code for any purpose. Two uses for the Console Window besides code testing that immediately come to mind are automation and analysis. There are several functions in Acrobat for manipulating and for acquiring information from PDFs and Acrobat.
For example, suppose you wanted to know the exact border color of a text field so you could use the same color in another location. Assuming the current document has a field with the correct name on it, the following code displays the raw color value in the Console Window:.
The following code uses a simple loop to display this color info in the Console Window for manual inspection:. Because of the loop, this code cannot be executed one line at a time.
It has to be done all at once. Notice that in the loop there is a function called console. It’s in the fourth line. This function writes text to the Console Window and it will be discussed in the next section.
Here’s an example of a function that does not have an easy equivalent on the regular Acrobat menus and toolbars. Enter the following line into the Console Window and run it:. Acrobat will create a new, blank PDF document. This is perfect for trying out new ideas before applying them to a working document. The results of this operation are shown in Figure 7 below.