DIY Secure PDF Publishing


Drumlin PDF Security: Service description and Publishing Guidance

Our Drumlin Publisher software, which is free to download and use, enables you to convert your PDF files to our secure format, with the permission settings you require. Files are converted locally, so the source PDFs never leave your site, only reference data is stored on our central Digital Rights Management (DRM) service. You can then distribute the secured file(s) to your end users/customers/employees and our Digital Rights Management (DRM) service will check that the user is allowed to view that document via a system of authorization codes or licenses. This page describes how to do this. For video demonstrations of the key steps, please see here. For Corporate solutions, which provide additional functionality and optional license-based distribution control, please see here for more details.

Essentially there are just two very simple and quick steps:

  • 1. install, register and run our free DrumlinPublisher software and select the file you want to make secure (start by testing this with a single file), specify what protections you want, and create the secure version - the secure file is saved locally and a free code for testing it is provided by the software - save this code for testing. Registered subscribers will also have access to the code and license generation facilities and tracking options within DrumlinPublisher
  • 2. install and run our free Javelin PDF reader for your preferred technology platform, initially we recommend testing your files using Javelin3 for Windows. Open the secure file you have generated and use the free text code to authorize it - job done!

The Drumlin PDF Security service includes the following core elements:

  • Drumlin Publisher Our PDF secure publisher software - this is used to create the secured (encrypted) PDF files from standard PDF files - available free of charge from here. DrumlinPublisher includes the core service management facilities that are needed to create and manage document access and to track and control usage, together with facilities for creating authorization codes and/or licenses for use with the documents that have been secured
  • Javelin PDF reader software - this is the software for end users - very small, fast and highly functional PDF readers. Versions are available for PC, Mac, iPAD/iPhone and Android devices - all Javelin readers are also free of charge. For PC and Mac users Javelin can be downloaded from here - or for Mac Javelin can be obtained from the Mac AppStore for pre-10.12.4 versions of OSX. For iPAD/iPhone and Android the Javelin readers are available at the App Stores for these platforms. For sites where no third party software installations are permitted please see our online PDF security solutions, with web-browser based access to secure PDFs.
  • DRM Services - these are our in-network Digital Rights Management services for offline PDF security - the DRM service stores all the information required to provide the facilities for secure PDF file distribution, including authorization code details, document details, publisher details, and of course, is where the authorization codes and licenses are checked before allowing an end user with Javelin from being able to view a document.
  • Authorization codes and Document licenses - authorization codes are the standard means by which an end user can enable (authorize) a secure file (DRMZ or DRMX file) for viewing on a particular device. Each authorization code generated has an entry in our DRM service SQL database, together with a count value indicating how many times it can be used (i.e. on how many devices its use is permitted). A quota of codes per annum, provided as part of a subscription service order, is the main "commercial unit" for the Drumlin Security services. Document licenses are an alternatiive to the use of authorization codes. These are used to enable access to documents where the end user has installed and registered the Pro edition of Javelin. This facility is currently available for MS Windows and is generally used as part of a Corporate/Pro edition service.
  • Templates, guidance and cross-platform testing - With our large customer base and many years of experience, we can provide you with sample email templates, download guidance, free test file conversions, cross-platform testing of your files... and more. Initial and ongoing support of this kind is included in the service subscription fees.

Step by Step instructions

The simplest way to create a secure PDF using the Drumlin Publisher software is first: Download, install and register the free Drumlin Publisher software. Then follow the steps below to produce a secure PDF. Secure PDF files require an authorization code or document license file before they can be viewed on a given device. Drumlin Publisher will offer you a free code for testing when you create single secure PDFs. Now proceed to create a secure PDF file as follows:

  • Run DrumlinPublisher, login and select a test PDF on your PC for secure publishing. We recommend you use the .DRMZ file format for most purposes - also, use the SAVE SETTINGS button to save your preferred settings for secure publishing. Then use the other form tabs to set the options you would like to use as controls (e.g. View=unlimited, Print=Disabled, End date=31st December 2020, add an intelligent watermark), save your settings, and then press the Create Secure PDFs button. You need to have an active Internet connection at this stage. Please see the Documentation page and the video demos, and the Knowledgebase (all accessible from the HELP menu) for more details.
  • DrumlinPublisher then sends control information (NOT THE PDF FILE ITSELF) to our DRM server. This includes the information necessary to identify your file as belonging to you (including the file name, your details and the permission controls you have applied) together with other security information. This information is stored on our DRM server. At the same time your PDF file is encrypted locally on your PC and protected by our security framework and this version is saved on your PC in your chosen location with the file extension .DRMZ or .DRMX. Your original PDF file remains unchanged. A test authorization code is automatically sent to you when you generate a single secure file at a time (not for multiple files) so you can check your file using our free Javelin PDF readers, as if you were an end user - select YES to save the free test code to a local text file. If you use Drumlin Publisher to create multiple secure PDFs in one go then no test code is provided. Ask us if you would like additional codes for test documents. Always TEST your secured file using Javelin3 for Windows (and optionally other platforms) before issuing it to end users. All Javelin readers can view DRMZ files but only the Windows and Mac versions can view DRMX files.
  • Once you have created your secure file, which will typically have a .DRMZ extension, you do not need to generate it again for each customer - the same file can be sent to all end users/customers.
  • You can now send the DRMX or DRMZ version of your PDF file to anyone you wish or place it on a web site for downloading. DRMZ and DRMX files are secure and cannot be used/read without Javelin plus a valid and available authorization code or license file for that specific secured PDF.
  • To make the file readable on a target device the user needs a copy of our Javelin PDF reader and an authorization code, which you will provide. Normally codes can only be used once, but you can ask for/generate a set of codes that can be used 2 times or more (up to 5 by default) if you wish - we can also enable you to be able to create special codes with larger number of usages. For subscription service customers the Codes option in DrumlinPublisher is available and enables publishers to create their own authorization codes (typically from 5 to 50 at a time per document), without having to contact us. DrumlinPublisher also provides code reset, tracking and reporting functions
  • Sample email templates: please see below for some examples of email templates and other ways of distributing your secured files

For mobile devices (iPADs, iPhones and Android devices) and Mac computers Javelin includes a built-in download function for direct downloads within the Javelin app in order to simplify the process (no browser required). In most instances we recommend using a catalog file as the file to download to mobile devices, rather than the file or files themselves. Catalogs are xml (or zipped xml) files that contain information (metadata) about your document(s) and where they are located. For example, the catalog: contains links to many documents and can be used an example for your own catalogs (note the simple filename - simple/short lowercase catalog names are best for end users if they have to type them in). Once downloaded all the end user needs to do is touch the cover of the publication they want and it will be downloaded automatically. The file itself is the same DRMZ file that you would deliver to PCs and Mac computers, and will require authorization in exactly the same way. Bespoke versions of apps can be provided - examples include the Taxbooks app and the NK Institute app (available for both iPAD/iPhone and Android platforms). These have built-in catalogs, so the end user simply has to touch a catalog in order to obtain the ebooks/materials they require.

Your customer, the end user, will need to know what to do in order to read your secured PDF. Typically you will send them an email, with simple instructions, possibly linked to a web page. In most cases your email will also include an authorization code for them to use. Your customer now has the software installed and registered, your DRMX or DRMZ file, and an authorization code from you for that document. As noted above, you can provide this by email or automatically via your online service (e.g. using your own shopping cart system or a PHP product like Linklok), or via a commercial service such as Fetchapp, Getdpd, SendOwl, PayLoadz or SoftSeller. The end customer (PC/Mac customers) use the File menu, Open... option and selects the DRMX or DRMZ file you have provided, and then they enter the authorization code they have been given when prompted. The code is checked centrally to ensure it matches the document ID and is a valid and unused code, and if so, exchanges information with the end user's PC/Mac to enable the DRMX or DRMZ file to be decrypted/decoded. Note that authorization codes are simply look-up codes, and do not have any encryption/decryption function

Distributing your files: There are lots of different example templates, depending on the platforms you are providing the file or files to, from a very simple one to an exhaustive one. So here are some which we have set up and work in nearly every case (assuming the customer reads them of course!): - a "universal" web-page based set of instructions for installing Javelin and downloading secure PDFs, with separate versions for each main operating system - this template is used for three large ebooks (academic) – the files are stored on a standard web server at fixed locations - this template is a very simple one (in Spanish) which contains links to web-based full instructions, which gives a very flexible approach to the design of such emails. The full instructions page is: - this template is an “exhaustive” one and is used for US Law students purchasing files from a publisher called PicJur.

If you were just emailing a secured document to a small number of prospective clients or end users you might have the secured version as an attachment, and in this case the following works well, but applies for desktop/laptops rather than mobile devices:


To use this file on your PC or Mac please follow the three steps below (it will also work on iPADs, iPhones and Android devices, but this is implemented in a slightly different way so please email us if you want to test it on either of these device types, or viewed online via a browser):
1. Save the attached file to your DOCUMENTS folder
2. Download Javelin (for PC or Mac) from our downloads page: and install it as per the web page guidance (this only needs to be the very first time you use the system) – you can download Javelin for Mac from the Mac AppStore for OSX (up to version 10.12.4), and that will be fine (Javelin is also available on the iOS appstore for iPhones/iPADs and the Google Play Android app store, but for these devices please ask us for assistance in loading the file onto your device)
3. Run Javelin, select the File menu, Open… option and open the file you have saved. It will ask for a code. Copy/paste or type in the code: xxxxxxxxx (9 characters, no space on the end of it) into the field when prompted and press OK. The code will be checked over the internet and if OK, will allow you to view the document.


There are lots of checks and log files to make sure that as far as possible this all works smoothly. However, if there are questions or problems these can generally be sorted out very quickly. Facilities for this include:

  • on Windows and OSX users can double-click on a DRMX or DRMZ file to open it with Javelin. If they do this with a DRMX or DRMZ file it will ask if they wish to authorize it - if they have done so already it will detect this.
  • user activity is logged on our central servers, so it is possible for us to identify end-user issues and actvities remotely. It is also possible for us to report on such activities to the relevant publisher and to enable/disable documents, authorization codes and selected users if absolutely necessary. The AdminApp provides facilities to perform these functions yourself rather than asking us to provide these services.
  • Windows and OSX versions include a local log file facility so in some cases we may request a copy of the log file to see why a user might be having technical problems

Publishers often have special requirements. By default the free service provides the core software and service publishers require. However, there are many additional facilities and services available - Please contact us by email if you have any questions

The terms and conditions for using this software and service are provided in the Software License document terms availablehere. This service is provided on the basis that it may not be used to distribute or promote indecent, racist, terrorist or any other materials likely to offend or provoke hatred. Drumlin Security reserve the right at any time to disable documents or users from the service if breaches of the License or usage terms are identified. Please see theAboutpage for more details. The Drumlin Digital Rights Management (DRM) Server is comprised of a Microsoft Windows server host configuration offering Web hosting, ASP/.NET and SQLServer 5 (or later - we currently use SQLServer2014) facilities. Service management is conducted via FTP and SQLServer management facilities. In the latter case this is typically Microsoft SQLServer Management Studio (or Studio Express) and Microsoft Access (connection via ODBC to SQLServer host). The latter is principally of use for ad hoc queries and management report generation, but may also be used for data updating where appropriate. The SQLServer configuration may be shared with many other databases and is typically very lightly loaded. This is because the data stored is fairly small (normally no documents are stored in the database, just document and user related data), and interaction between the client and host server is typically occasional, short and fast. Almost the only occasion where larger volumes of data are handled is when a large bulk publishing exercise is run (e.g. for 100s of files at one go)