Loading additional content after opening a PDF?

I received a PDF file from a Court that seems to be using some sort of proprietary Adobe technology I’ve never seen before. When I open the PDF in Evince, it says:

Please wait…
If this message is not eventually replaced by the proper contents of the document, your PDF
viewer may not be able to display this type of document.
You can upgrade to the latest version of Adobe Reader for Windows®, Mac, or Linux® by
visiting http://www.adobe.com/products/acrobat/readstep2.html.
For more assistance with Adobe Reader visit http://www.adobe.com/support/products/acrreader.html.

Unfortunately, Adobe doesn’t make a Linux version anymore. Several questions, then:

Anyone know what this technology is called?
Is it something Poppler should be handling and I should inquire with that team?
Should I file a bug report about this?
Is there another Linux PDF app that could properly display this PDF?


It’s probably trying to run JavaScript, which is primarily used to install Windows malware but can also very rarely be used by legitimate documents. I’m not aware of any PDF readers other than Adobe Reader that support JavaScript execution or are interested in supporting it in the future, but maybe something exists that I don’t know about. Good luck. It’s tough to search for because you’re going to see a bunch of search results for PDF.js (a PDF viewer written in JavaScript).

You can run the command pdfinfo filename.pdf (part of poppler) to confirm if it has JavaScript. In the output it would show:

JavaScript:      yes

You may have to open the PDF on an OS that has an Adobe PDF reader, or use Wine and try installing the Windows program on Linux with that.

Creator:         Adobe LiveCycle Designer ES 9.0
Producer:        Adobe LiveCycle Designer ES 9.0; modified using iTextSharp 5.1.3 (c) 1T3XT BVBA
CreationDate:    Fri Jun 24 07:34:02 2016 MST
ModDate:         Thu May  4 19:00:13 2023 MST
Custom Metadata: no
Metadata Stream: yes
Tagged:          no
UserProperties:  no
Suspects:        no
Form:            XFA
JavaScript:      yes
Pages:           1
Encrypted:       no
Page size:       612 x 792 pts (letter)
Page rot:        0
File size:       27533 bytes
Optimized:       no
PDF version:     1.7

For JavaScript support, Okular has some support for it. However, likely the message you are getting it is because of XFA forms. The producers adds a page that XFA-compliant readers omit.

AFAIK, only proprietary PDF readers can handle XFA (or some subset of it). In Linux you have FoxIt and Master PDF Editor. They have free versions (as in free beer). I do not know if Chrome or Firefox support it, that could be another alternative.


I do not know if Chrome or Firefox support it

Would have been nice workaround, but they do not: How to open XFA-based PDF forms on Firefox and Chrome

Edit: appears to be outdated info.

XFA actually is supported by PDF.js. so you should be able to use either Firefox or Epiphany. Assuming the PDF really only needs XFA and not also JavaScript.

You’re right and that other info appears outdated.

I found this website that can online convert a XFA PDF to regular PDF (only use it for already public documents!) and on that page they have a sample XFA PDF for testing.

That can be opened in Firefox and Epiphany but in Evince (and Chromium) gives the “Please wait” notice. But I note the form dropdown boxes are empty in Firefox and Epiphany so maybe that additionally requires JavaScript support.

Yes Firefox was able to open and properly display this particular PDF, it’s just a receipt from the court showing payment and what it was applied to. Anyway, thanks for the tip!

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