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Adobe Launches PDF Platform For Web Services

If Adobe has its way, every document or form published with its software will be a lot smarter than its ancestors.

The creator of the ubiquitous portable document file (PDF) software is launching one of its most important pieces of its Intelligent Document Platform yet, with document services that bridge the gap between static document publishing and Web services by adding business process management and security features to the mix.

Adobe LiveCycle is the company's vision for a new layer in the IT services stack that handles all document processing throughout its lifecycle, from creation to disposal.

Based on XML , this vision spans the desktop side for individuals creating intelligent documents, but also works at the server level, such as serving statements generated in a bank's network.

"Everyone is familiar with PDF and what you can do with it," according to Shawn Cadeau, director of product marketing for Adobe's Intelligent Document Business Unit. "What we've done over the last couple of years is enhanced the PDF file format with XML. We've enhanced the security capabilities, as well as the interactivity of the PDF itself."

For example, with LiveCycle, users can create intelligent forms that supply reams of information after a user types, for example, a name. The "live" PDF will automatically fill in data such as address, zip code and other details, cutting the time it takes to fill out, send and process a form from minutes to seconds.

Customers can also place keys inside PDF files so that when someone receives that file inside the Adobe Reader, digital signature and features that lie dormant will spring to life to give that file "Acrobat-like" functionality, Cadeau told internetnews.com.

LiveCycle consists of both previously created software, such as document generation and collaboration, and new technologies, such as business process management and security, Cadeau said.

BPM will enable offline and online document processing, simple form management, workflow, special bar-coded paper forms to allow data to be fed directly into a computer network and local data saving capabilities. Document security provides authenticity, integrity and confidentiality.

"Document security is the ability to take a document in batch mode or off your desktop to secure document delivery to ensure that it wasn't tampered with or edited," Cadeau said. "It also ensures the document came from the person it says it came from. You can also control how long a user can view a document for."

As for process management, the executive said electronic form templates with calculations validation and version control and management, which allows users to create the form, make them intelligent and allow people to fill them out online or offline.

Both the new security and control and process management features make LiveCycle a prime candidate for Web services, which allow applications to communicate, or "talk" to one another to perform tasks, such as claims processing or banking transactions. This is where Adobe hopes to hit big.

Cadeau said the call for such rich, interactive documents came from government and financial services, which are seeking faster, more secure document services to deal with increased record keeping policies, including Sarbanes-Oxley and HIPAA.

Adobe is partnering with IBM and SAP to help LiveCycle, available June 8, reach more customers. Pricing starts at $100,000 for the Process Management bundle, but individual components can be purchased for $35,000 each. Pricing for the Document Security Server starts at $50,000.