Updating Adobe Help for CS5

Image for Adobe Help
Adobe recently released an update for their Adobe Help client for Adobe CS5 products. It’s an Adobe AIR-based application, and so is packaged in a different format than Adobe CS5 products or CS5 updates, so enterprise deployment software that knows how to deal with other Adobe software may still not be able to deploy this update.

So what’s a poor Mac OS X admin to do?

In the comments here:
http://blogs.adobe.com/csupdates/2010/08/27/adobe-community-help-3-3/#comments, Joe Chilcote posted a command-line way to do the update. I took his concepts and created a “payload-free” Apple package with a postflight script that installs the updated AIR and Adobe Help applications. This package should work with any deployment software that knows how to install Apple packages.

But I don’t think Adobe would be happy if I redistributed Adobe AIR and the Help update, so what I can offer you, gentle reader, is a kit that requires some assembly.

First, you need all the parts:

  1. My package wrapper.
  2. The Adobe AIR installer, which you can get from Adobe here.
  3. The Adobe Help update. Get it from Adobe here. Don’t install it; just download the AdobeHelp.air file.

Once you have all the parts, you can start assembling the working package.

  1. Mount the disk image containing the package wrapper, and copy the AdobeCommunityHelpClientWrapper.pkg to someplace writable, like your desktop.
  2. Control-click on the AdobeCommunityHelpClientWrapper.pkg copy, and choose “Show Package Contents”
  3. Navigate to the Contents/Resources sub-directory.
  4. Copy the Adobe AIR Installer.app and AdobeHelp.air components into the package’s Contents/Resources directory.

If you did everything correctly, the package contents should look like this:

AdobeHelp wrapper package contents image

Close everything up and give it a whirl. This package will only install on the boot volume, so you can’t use it in an InstaDMG-style workflow, but I’ve tested it both with a logged-in user and at the loginwindow with no current user.

Feel free to examine the postflight script — it’s written in Python. It could be easily modified to install other Adobe AIR-based apps.

Updating Adobe Help for CS5

25 thoughts on “Updating Adobe Help for CS5

  1. Gary says:

    Adobe is going for some sort of record on the number of methods used to deploy software. How do we expect them to standardize on anything if many of their methods are unique?

    Your writeup is great, and I’m sure many are going to dig it – but to what lengths must we go to support a company who clearly cares very little about us?

    1. Jody Rodgers is the current manager in charge of Adobe CS5 enterprise deployment tools. You’ve been seeing his recent efforts here:

      and here:

      He came from the IT side at Adobe, and he gets it, as he and his staff have had to deal with Adobe’s own installers. He does get it. He’s now trying to herd a pack of feral cats. Though he cannot change things there overnight, he has been excellent at finding resources to get information out so we can at least work around or through many of the issues.

      Keep the constructive feedback flowing at http://blogs.adobe.com/oobe/

  2. Martin says:

    Is it possible to make this package to work using Deploystudio? I get “install failed” when running from my workflow in Deploystudio, but it works when using ARD.


    1. The only way it might work with DeployStudio is by using the option to install packages on first boot. This package works only on the boot volume because the Adobe AIR Installer application can only install Adobe AIR on the boot volume.

      This is a common issue/problem/feature/limitation of the various Adobe install technologies…

      1. Martin says:

        Thanks, but i’ve tried this aswell, with no luck.

        I slightly modified the script to install Yammer and Air, and it works as it supposed when using ARD, and that’s good, but still no luck with DeployStudio 😦

  3. Martin:
    I’m guessing this is because of the way DeployStudio installs items at first boot. I found this in their release notes for 1.0rc19:

    “-postponed packages installation and/or Apple Software Update autorun tasks enable verbose mode booting and disable the login window and window manager until all packages are installed.”

    The script tries to run the Adobe AIR installer in the same MACH bootstrap context as the loginwindow; if the loginwindow isn’t even loaded, it’s not going to work…

  4. MiqViq says:

    Excuse me for asking this (probably should be directed to Adobe) but if I would like to update Adobe Help for all apps in CS5 Master Collection do I need to install ALL those separate .air installers or is just one enough to satisfy all apps within CS5 MC?
    I downloaded 3 of them and noticed that all are the same size, about 2.8MB.


  5. Don Montalvo says:


    You are a hero! 🙂 Once this package is installed, and a non-admin user logs in and launches Adobe Help, they get prompted to pull down 40+ updates, totaling more than 350M.

    I’m shaking my head…does every user on the Mac need to do this?!

    Wow…please tell me there is a way to pull down and push these updates…


    1. I honestly don’t know. Supporting Adobe installations is a little like Whack-a-Mole — once you solve one issue, another pops up. It seems endless.

      1. Don Montalvo says:

        Well, my figures were a bit off. Total number of Adobe Help updates is 1.3G+ per user. 🙂

        This works great. I’m just having a problem setting the pref (for all users of course) so they’re never prompted for updates, since we’re forcing Adobe Help to go to the Adobe site (display HTML; as opposed to caching locally).


  6. Don Montalvo says:

    Non-admin users are beginning to see update prompt for Adobe AIR 2.51.

    Is there a way to kill these auto-update prompts? Or has the “fix” for AAMEE (removing Adobe AIR from the packaging process) resulted in another break?


      1. Don Montalvo says:

        Yep, we updated our package and tested, works fine. Was looking for a way to stop auto checking. Thanks for the link. I’m not familiar with Adobe AIR, didn’t know there was an admin guide for it. Dude…if it hasn’t been said yet (heck, I’m sure it’s been said a million times)…you rock! 🙂


    1. This might help:

      Click to access air_admin_guide.pdf


      Preventing automatic updates to Adobe AIR

      On Windows, add a DWORD value named UpdateDisabled to the HKey_Local_Machine\Software\Policies\Adobe\AIR registry key, and set the value to 1.

      On Linux, modify the UpdateDisabled setting in the globalRuntime.conf configuration file in /etc/opt/Adobe\ AIR/. For example, set UpdateDisabled=1 to prevent automatic updates of Adobe AIR.

      On Mac OS, create a file named updateDisabled in the /Users/username/Library/Application Support/Adobe/AIR directory.

      If no setting is present or if the value is set to 0, automatic updates of the runtime are allowed (when required by an AIR application) or when an update becomes available via the background update mechanism. However, users still need system privileges to install to the application’s destination directory.

      Even if automatic updates are not prevented through this setting, the user needs to have administrative privileges for automatic updates of the runtime to proceed.

      Of course, this technique is per-user, which is a pain…

      1. Don Montalvo says:

        Ahhh…another per-user Adobe fiasco. 🙂 We can push it to /tmp and use a loop to put it in existing and future users’ directories :

        # Loop to push Adobe per-user settings to User Template and
        # also to existing user directories.

        for i in $(/bin/ls /Users)

        # copy to User Template
        /usr/bin/ditto /tmp/updateDisabled /System/Library/User\ Template/English.lproj/Library/Application\ Support/Adobe/AIR/

        # copy to existing user directories
        /usr/bin/ditto /tmp/updateDisabled /Users/$i/Library/Application\ Support/Adobe/AIR/

        # change owner:group on the file
        /usr/sbin/chown $i:staff /Users/$i/Library/Application\ Support/Adobe/AIR/updateDisabled

        exit 0

  7. Matt says:

    worked as advertised Greg, thx for making it so easy!!
    Don M thx for the script, that looks like an elegant way to push things to user homes.

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