RealTime IT News

Adobe Purchase Seen Protecting PDF Position

Adobe Systems moved to reassert its position as a Web-based forms provider Monday with the purchase of assets from Yellow Dragon, a maker of XML messaging and metadata software.

The privately-held Yellow Dragon of Vancouver, B.C., makes a commercial software product that deploys the Electronic Business Extensible Markup Language (ebXML) standard . The protocol uses XML to exchange electronic business data as an XML registry messaging product to deliver XML messages between servers.

Competing with Microsoft to deliver new Web forms vis-á-vis its own documenting capabilities, Adobe is seen as signaling with the Yellow Dragon asset purchase that it wants to help companies automate their external business processes with the company's ebXML technology. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

ebXML, which is viewed by some technology players as an eventual replacement to yesteryear's private-network based Electronic Data Interchange (EDI), is sponsored by the United Nations Centre for Trade Facilitation and Electronic Business (UN/CEFACT) and the Organization for the Advancement of Structured Information Standards (OASIS). Both international groups have vested interests in conducting global trading relationships via the Web using a common, open language. The ebXML standard is being broadly adopted by governments and manufacturers worldwide.

San Jose, Calif.'s Adobe has agreed to eventually support ebXML transactions within its Intelligent Document Platform and PDF, in order to serve businesses and governments that want to marry the business logic capabilities of XML with the document capabilities of Adobe PDFs.

But ZapThink Senior Analyst Ronald Schmelzer said he doesn't see the ebXML assets as the crown jewels of Yellow Dragon -- which is actually an outgrowth of ebXML prioneer XML Global. Schmelzer said this is because ebXML lacks significant traction and is losing ground to Web Services-based B2B transactions.

"Rather, Yellow Dragon has some significant assets in the B2B messaging and reliable document exchange areas, which could definitely benefit Adobe as it seeks to make Acrobat and the PDF a robust contender for the rich client-of-choice for things like forms and other user interaction with back-end systems," Schmelzer told internetnews.com.

Software makers such as Microsoft and Adobe place great importance on the work of improving the way electronic documents are delivered via the Internet. Both recognize that employing XML-based technologies and standards greatly increases the extensibility and flexibility of their products.

Adobe is approaching new Web forms though its PDF files while Microsoft has developed a forms technology called InfoPath to allow companies to gather information that they want to use in business processes using XML.

"Adobe is definitely looking to change the landscape for the emerging e-Forms market, and will be an increasingly stronger in the market," Schmelzer added. "In fact, the only other strong contender for rich, XML-based electronic forms is Microsoft's new InfoPath product, and that product is barely out of the gate from an adoption perspective."

The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), too, considers the concept of Web forms to be similarly important enough to fashion a formal, open standard around, and has recently formally recommended XForms to pass with the support of Adobe, IBM, Novell, Oracle, and Sun Microsystems.