Adobe Systems has announced a new server and solutions product line, including Adobe Document Server and Adobe Document Server for Reader Extensions. The Adobe Document Server automates the production of complex Adobe PDF documents by assembling XML data with professionally formatted templates incorporating rich visual content. By using form fields that are defined in Adobe PDF documents, Document Server supports the customization of documents down to the individual user. With the Adobe Document Server for Reader Extensions, "agencies can automate electronic forms and document processes -- reducing reliance on inefficient paper-based workflows. They can give their constituents the ability to apply digital signatures using industry-standard technologies, and finally submit the filled-in form electronically, completely eliminating paper from the forms workflow. Completed Adobe PDF forms and forms data in the Extensible Markup Language (XML) can also be easily integrated with an organization's backend systems to enable round-trip transactional workflows."
From the Document Server product datasheet: "Document Server supports the dynamic creation of Adobe Portable Document Format (PDF) documents from a variety of sources, including PostScript, PDF forms, and XML. By flowing XML data retrieved from an enterprise application or database into templates, Adobe Document Server can generate customized Adobe PDF documents and automate forms-based transactions. Document Server also supports Extensible Stylesheet Language Formatting Objects (XSL-FO). This emerging Web standard combines standard XML data with layout information for multi-page documents containing text, graphics, and images. Document Server offers a scalable, server architecture that can run across multiple CPUs, meeting the high performance needs of your business... Adobe Document Server provides enterprises with the tools needed to collaborate with customers and partners. Forms can be included within longer documents, allowing readers to provide opt-in information, register for special offers, and interact with document publishers. Personalized headers and footers can also be placed across long, compound documents. Dynamic, XML-based information can be imported directly into Adobe PDF files, allowing communications to be tailored directly for specific individuals. And with support for Scalable Vector Graphics (SVG), dynamic charts and graphs can be incorporated into customized documents..."
From the "At A Glance" summary: "Adobe Document Server uses many of the same document and imaging libraries as Adobe desktop applications, including Adobe PDF, Adobe Acrobat Distiller, Adobe FrameMaker, Adobe Photoshop (PSD), SVG, and others. Organizations can create document and form templates, which Adobe Document Server can use to dynamically generate new Adobe PDF documents. Adobe Document Server accepts XML commands and supports XSLFO (Extensible Style Language Formatting Objects), an industry standard for describing how an XML document should be formatted for a variety of media. Support for APIs (Application Program Interface) for use in Java, Perl, COM and SOAP (Simple Object Access Protocol) environments enables programmers to develop scripts for automating the creation of Adobe PDF documents using tools they already know..."
From the document "Adobe Document Server for Reader Extensions 'At A Glance'":
"Some 490 million copies of the free Adobe Acrobat Reader software have been distributed worldwide since the product's 1993 introduction, allowing users to view and print Portable Document Format (PDF) files that maintain the intuitive look and feel of paper documents. Acrobat Reader has also provided government organizations, financial institutions, and other enterprises with a convenient way to freely distribute electronic versions of their paper forms, which users can easily view, fill in, and submit online. But organizations need more functionality from their PDF forms if they are to meet new government paperwork reduction mandates, reduce forms processing costs, and create more efficient, new business processes... In the United States, federal agencies must adhere to the Government Paperwork Elimination Act (GPEA) by Oct. 21, 2003. The GPEA mandates that agencies provide options for citizens to submit form information electronically and encourages the use of digital signatures for electronic form submissions..."
The Adobe Document Server for Reader Extensions solution consists of two pieces: (1) the server software, which assigns additional usage rights to electronic forms created by PDF authoring programs such as Adobe Acrobat 5.0 and Adobe Form Designer 5.0; (2) the client software, Acrobat Reader 5.1, which reads and allows access to the usage rights embedded in PDF forms.
- Server software: Adobe Document Server for Reader Extensions allows organizations to assign additional usage rights to PDF forms in one of two ways: via a Web browser interface, ideal for manually assigning rights to a small number of forms one at a time; or using a programmable Application Programming Interface (API), for assigning rights to a large number of forms in an automated process. Using either method, the Adobe Document Server for Reader Extensions server can enable four types of usage rights on a PDF form:  Commenting tools, including sticky notes, highlights, stamps, and strikethroughs;  The ability to save a form to a desktop for offline completion or archiving, without losing any forms data;  Digital signatures, including support for Public Key Infrastructure systems for third-party validation;  Advanced forms features, including the ability to submit a form offline or via email, import or export forms data, and create new pages.
- Acrobat Reader: Acrobat Reader 5.1, which can be downloaded free of charge from the Adobe Web site, reads the usage rights embedded in PDF forms by Adobe Document Server for Reader Extensions and provides user access to those additional features.
"Adobe Document Server for Reader Extensions is easy to install and integrate with existing workflows and applications, enabling government organizations to build upon the investments they've already made. In addition, organizations can leverage Adobe Document Server for Reader Extensions as part of a larger solution developed by IT staff or systems integrators. For example, integrating Adobe Document Server for Reader Extensions with a backend system such as a database enables completed PDF forms to be returned and forms data to be extracted as XML (Extensible Markup Language) data."
From the 2002-10-21 press releases:
"Adobe Unveils New Document Server For Dynamically Generating Adobe PDF Files Automated Adobe PDF Document Production Helps Increase Efficiencies and Reduce Costs." - "[Adobe Systems Incorporated has] "announced the Adobe Document Server, which enables enterprise customers to automatically generate and customize Adobe Portable Document Format (PDF) files and forms... Adobe Document Server integrates with existing workflows and web interfaces via a simple command structure based on Extensible Markup Language (XML) to enable end-users to initiate the document creation and assembly process. For example, an investment manager can generate customized information to send to a client. This document could include a personalized cover letter, up-to-the-minute information on the client's current investments, and a prospectus on a recommended mutual fund for the client. The customized Adobe PDF document is then sent to the manager for review, and then emailed to the client...With support for Application Program Interfaces (APIs) for Java, Perl, COM and Simple Object Access Protocol (SOAP) environments, programmers can develop scripts for automating the creation of Adobe PDF documents using tools they already know. Adobe Document Server also accepts XML commands, and supports Extensible Style Language Formatting Objects (XSL-FO), an industry standard for describing how an XML document should be formatted for a variety of media. Adobe Document Server is expected to be available by the end of 2002, with pricing starting at US $20,000 per CPU..."
"Adobe Delivers New Server to Extend Functionality of Adobe Acrobat Reader. Software Helps Organizations Worldwide Leverage Adobe PDF to Offer Enhanced Services." - "[Adobe has] introduced Adobe Document Server for Reader Extensions, new software that provides enterprises the ability to automate electronic forms and document processes-reducing reliance on inefficient paper-based workflows. With this new server, customers can now assign custom usage rights to specific Adobe Portable Document Format (PDF) forms and documents that enable Acrobat Reader 5.1 users access to additional features... The additional features that can be assigned to an Adobe PDF document or form are commenting tools, digital signatures, and the ability to save forms and forms data for offline completion, submission and archival storage. Completed Adobe PDF forms and forms data in the Extensible Markup Language (XML) can also be easily integrated with an organization's backend systems to enable round-trip transactional workflows... Adobe Document Server for Reader Extensions pricing begins at US $75,000..."
"Adobe Launches New Servers and Solutions to Automate Document Processes in the Enterprise. Powerful New Network Publishing Solutions for Integrating Document Processes with Core Business Applications." - "[Adobe has] unveiled its new line of server-based products and solutions designed to automate document-intensive processes that companies rely on to run their businesses. Aimed at closing the gap between enterprise systems and traditional documents -- such as forms, contracts, customized reports and invoices -- the new Adobe network publishing solutions focus on improving document generation, collaboration and process management throughout the enterprise... To help companies extend their core business processes with document generation capabilities, Adobe introduced the Adobe Document Server. This software lets customers dynamically assemble customized Adobe Portable Document Format (PDF) files singularly or in volume from a variety of data sources including eXtensible Markup Language (XML) content -- all in an enterprise-ready, secure server environment. For example, organizations can extend Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) and Customer Relationship Management (CRM) systems by integrating Adobe Document Server software to automate traditional paper-based processes. This reduces processing costs and makes it possible to instantly generate custom documents -- such as a personalized report on a client's investment portfolio -- by automatically importing relevant data and graphics..."
- Principal press releases are referenced above. 2002-12-02 update: "Adobe Ships Server Products to Automate Document Processes in the Enterprise. Based on Adobe Acrobat and Adobe PDF, New Server Products Enable Organizations to Reduce Document Production Costs."
- Adobe Document Server overview
- Adobe Document Server datasheet [cache]
- "Adobe Document Server At A Glance" [cache]
- Adobe Document Server Business Benefits
- Adobe Document Server for Reader Extensions overview
- Adobe Document Server for Reader Extensions datasheet
- Adobe Document Server for Reader Extensions 'At a Glance'
- Adobe Document Server for Reader Extensions Benefits
- Adobe Document Server for Reader Extensions: Digital signature and security partners. - "... supports digital signatures for electronic forms processes; digital signatures allow you to reduce costs, increase productivity in approval processes, and enable a full electronic submission workflow; create a complete digital signature security solution, including both signing and validation features..."
- Related Adobe news: "Leading Integrators and Major Newspapers Adopt Adobe InDesign and InCopy to Improve Publishing Workflows. Newspapers and Publishers Leverage Support for XML to Speed Production in North America, Europe, Australasia, and Africa."
- "Adobe Ties Documents to Back-End Apps." By Cathleen Moore. In InfoWorld (October 21, 2002),
- "Adobe Fires Server Barrage." By [Seybold Staff.] In The Bulletin: Seybold News and Views On Electronic Publishing Volume 8, Number 4 (October 23, 2002).
- Adobe Systems Incorporated website
- "Digital Signatures" - Main reference page.