Adobe Systems has announced XML/PDF form designer software as part of its enhanced XML-based architecture for creating intelligent electronic documents. "Leveraging the power of PDF for presenting information and XML for processing data, the new form design software will enable organizations to easily design and deploy intelligent forms in Adobe Portable Document Format (PDF) or in an XML Data Package (XDP). The new XML/PDF form designer software builds on Adobe's XML architecture that supports end-to-end document processes. It provides all the capabilities needed to design forms with precision, including the ability to easily define business logic and incorporate existing or user-defined XML schemas. By enabling form designers to include user-defined XML schemas they can use XML vocabularies specific to particular verticals or cross-industry standards. Forms can be deployed in PDF and then processed as PDF is today, or delivered as an XML Data Package (XDP) to be processed as XML. XDP files are XML files that contain XML form data, XML form templates, PDF documents, and other XML information. They can be easily integrated with enterprise applications via commonly available XML tools and web services."
Overview: The Adobe XML Architecture
"The Adobe XML architecture combines the powerful data and business logic capabilities of the eXtensible Markup Language (XML) with the rich presentation and enhanced security capabilities of Portable Document Format (PDF). This combination provides organizations with a step-by-step migration from manual, paper-based workflows to streamlined, automated processes that fully integrate electronic documents and forms. These new processes still deliver the look and feel of familiar paper documents, thereby complying with regulatory requirements and increasing the rate of user adoption."
"The architecture leverages the capabilities of XML and PDF to support a variety of business applications, while offering connectivity to systems through a variety of industry-standard and Adobe technologies."
"XDP extends the flexibility of XML and PDF. With the Adobe XML architecture, depending on the process requirements, documents can be created in PDF and then processed as PDF is today, or expressed in an XML Data Package (XDP) and processed as XML. An XDP file is simply an XML file that packages a PDF file in XML, along with XML form and template data."
"The Adobe XML architecture also supports user data in an arbitrary XML format. So if your organization uses a standard schema for purchase orders, account information, or project schedules, your PDF forms can directly use XML data structured according to this schema. This ensures that your applications are interoperable and extensible, and allows you to support industry-standard schemas, such as those being used in finance, insurance, health care, and government."
"XML/PDF form designer software enables creation of enhanced business logic into forms. The new Adobe form designer in development will enable enterprises to more easily take advantage of a wide range of capabilities that are included in the Acrobat 6.0 product family and Adobe Reader 6.0. In addition to providing a graphical interface for designing highly structured form templates that include the ability to align each form element precisely, the new tool will also enable form authors to import XML schemas and graphically map them to form fields. Advanced palette tools, widget inspectors, and interactive wizards will greatly simplify adding logic, such as setting valid data ranges, restricting access to certain fields, or setting up Web services connections. These capabilities deliver a powerful client platform with a rich user interface, the ability to execute intelligent actions, and direct connectivity to back-end systems, without the need for server-side processing." [adapted from the Adobe XML Architecture description]
About Adobe XML Data Package (XDP)
"With the Adobe XML architecture, depending on the requirements of the process, documents can be created in PDF and then processed as PDF is today, or expressed in an XML Data Package (XDP) and processed as XML... Because an XDP file is an XML file, standard XML tools, system interfaces, and Web services can work with it, and the XML data is directly accessible... An XDP file contains several distinct blocks of information:
- XML Form Data. This component is the user data encoded according to an arbitrary XML schema chosen by the form developer during the design phase. The schema can be an industry standard, the enterprise's standard, or completely customized. Some examples of industry-standard schemas are ACORD (insurance), XBRL (finance), HL7 (healthcare), and SF424 (eGovernment).
- XML Form Template. This component contains all the form intelligence, including the mapping of XML form data to PDF form fields as well as all the business logic that controls the interactive behavior of the document, such as calculations and data validations.
- XML Configuration Information. The XML form template uses this component as a global reference for database and Web services SOAP connections.
- Other XML Information. XDP files can include custom XML information such as a schema file to facilitate validation, XML digital signatures, content metadata to facilitate archiving, or data used by a custom digital document application.
- PDF Document. XDP files provide all the traditional PDF benefits of precision document layout and high fidelity printing by embedding the PDF in an XML element.
An XDP file is an XML file, so all XML tools, XML system interfaces, and Web services can work directly with it. The XML data is directly accessible.
One would use PDF when file size and transmission time are important, documents are large, and the document is packaged with supplementary data or images; one would use XDP when documents and form data must travel in XML workflows, form data needs to be manipulated with XML tools, and documents will be stored in an XML repository. [adapted from the The Adobe XML Architecture: Technology Brief]
About the Adobe XML/PDF Form Designer
"The XML/PDF form designer from Adobe is a point-and-click, graphical XML form design tool for easily creating sophisticated forms that can be deployed as PDF or Adobe XML Data Package (XDP) files. The form designer's easy-to-use graphical interface enables form authors to quickly create and maintain form templates, define a form's business logic, make changes, and preview the document before it is deployed -- all with a single powerful solution."
"Adobe's customers are looking for solutions that combine the powerful data and business logic capabilities of XML with the rich presentation and enhanced security capabilities of PDF for the creation of intelligent documents. They are also looking for a powerful design tool that can publish both PDF and XML forms, thus serving as a single 'submit mechanism' for XML form data, XML form templates and/or PDF files within a unified, readable XML wrapper."
"The Adobe intelligent document architecture enables enterprises to facilitate information sharing and business transactions that extend beyond core applications and users. The three key components of the architecture are the intelligent document, the universal client, and document services. An intelligent document enables organizations to connect enterprises to people, and people to one another, both inside and outside the enterprise. The intelligent document has three layers: the presentation layer that supports rich content; the business logic layer that can do calculations like currency conversions; and the data layer that has the ability to capture XML data and move it between people and applications."
"With the Adobe XML architecture, depending on the process requirements, documents can be created in PDF and then processed as PDF is today, or expressed in an XML Data Package (XDP) and processed as XML. An XDP file is simply an XML file that packages a PDF file in XML, along with XML form and template data. Because an XDP file is an XML file, standard XML tools, system interfaces, and Web services can work with it, and the XML data is directly accessible. Additionally, a person can view and interact with the PDF document using the free Adobe Reader or the Adobe Acrobat family of products." [adapted from the Adobe XML/PDF Form Designer FAQ document]
From the Announcement
The new XML/PDF form designer software builds on Adobe's XML architecture that supports end-to-end document processes. It provides all the capabilities needed to design forms with precision, including the ability to easily define business logic and incorporate existing or user-defined XML schemas. By enabling form designers to include user-defined XML schemas they can use XML vocabularies specific to particular verticals or cross-industry standards. Forms can be deployed in PDF and then processed as PDF is today, or delivered as an XML Data Package (XDP) to be processed as XML. XDP files are simply XML files that contain XML form data, XML form templates, PDF documents and other XML information. They can be easily integrated with enterprise applications via commonly available XML tools and web services.
"Thanks to XML, the distinction between enterprise documents and enterprise forms has irreversibly blurred," said Tim Hickernell, vice president META Group. "By leveraging the power of XML to build more intelligent documents, companies are now challenged to design enterprise forms that are flexible enough to allow maximum reuse of corporate data across enterprise systems, as well as across traditional enterprise documents."
From internal facing forms, such as purchase orders and expense reports, to reaching customers and partners with forms such as applications and request for proposals, Adobe's solutions help enterprises streamline internal operations and improve customer service. The new form designer, combined with the Adobe Form Server, Adobe Workflow Server, Adobe Document Server and the free Adobe Reader, will enable organizations to integrate enterprise applications with document workflows throughout an organization, improving document generation, collaboration and process management.
For example, a financial institution can make loan applications available online. Anyone with the free Reader software can download the form, fill it in offline, and electronically submit the application back to the institution. Because the data in the application is submitted as XML, it can be integrated directly into the existing loan processing system. With more than half-a-billion copies of the Adobe Reader distributed to date, companies can more easily enable virtually anyone to participate in business processes across a wide variety of platforms, applications and devices.
"Until now, organizations have been struggling with integrating data and documents into business processes to effectively and efficiently manage information flow," said Ivan Koon, senior vice president, ePaper Business Unit at Adobe. "The new form design software will give our customers the power and flexibility to create sophisticated, intelligent forms that capture business critical information for enterprise systems, while ensuring that the information can be shared or reused in business processes inside and outside the firewall."
The new form designer will be available for beta testing during Q4 2003. For more information regarding the XML/PDF form designer, Adobe's XML architecture specification, intelligent documents and form samples, please visit www.adobe.com/enterprise/xml.html."
- Announcement 2003-07-15: "Adobe Advances Intelligent Documents with New XML/PDF Form Design Software. New Software Takes Advantage of Adobe's XML Architecture to Enable Easy Creation and Deployment of Intelligent Electronic Documents in PDF and XDP."
- The Adobe XML Architecture overview
- The Adobe XML Architecture: Technology Brief. 10 pages.
- Adobe XML Architecture FAQ document
- Adobe XML/PDF Form Designer FAQ document
- "Adobe Teaches PDF Documents to Speak XML. New Version of Form Designer Provides Ties to Enterprise Systems." By Joris Evers. In InfoWorld (July 15, 2003).
- "Adobe Expands E-Forms Push." By David Becker. In CNET News.com (July 15, 2003).
- "Adobe Developing InfoPath-Like Forms Creation Tool." By John Longwell. In CRN (July 15, 2003).
- Adobe Systems website
- See: "Adobe Brings Together XML with the Power and Ubiquity of PDF. New XML Architecture Enables Intelligent Documents to Extend the Value of Enterprise Systems." Announcement 2003-04-07.
- See: "Adobe Announces XML Architecture for Document Creation, Collaboration, and Process Management." News story April 07, 2003.