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IBM to Buy E-Forms Maker PureEdge

IBM is boosting its presence in the electronic forms business, agreeing to acquire PureEdge Solutions for an undisclosed sum.

PureEdge, an IBM partner since 2002, makes software that takes corporate data on inventory, pricing and customer and presents it in a readable template.

The Victoria, B.C., company offers design tools for designing high-end e-forms and viewer tools for rich client or thin-client environments. The tools improve business processes for customers.

The software is based on XML , which allows users to create and exchange documents within their business and across their partners and customers.

PureEdge supports the XForms standard, which was created two years ago by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) to present information via the Web as an improvement over Hypertext Markup Language (HTML). IBM officials said they believe this gives the Armonk, N.Y. company an advantage over other proprietary types of e-forms technology.

Moreover, the standard support enables IBM to integrate PureEdge technology across its other software brands, something that Lotus e-forms could not abide.

IBM plans to tuck the company's technology into its Lotus collaboration and Workplace software beginning next year.

A move toward greater efficiency over paper documents, e-forms software helps businesses and organizations more quickly and easily share information.

With its Intelligent Document Platform, Adobe is considered a leader in the market. Microsoft has grand plans for its InfoPath forms software, too.

Ambuj Goyal, general manager in IBM's software group, said on a conference call that the market for e-forms is growing.

"It's becoming clear to us that electronic forms is becoming one of the key currencies for information exchange," Goyal said. "Electronic forms capture the business processes, in industries like banking, government procurement or insurance."

IBM has made several software acquisitions in the last four years, bolstering its information integration, content management and management software lines. PureEdge is a rare purchase tailored for Big Blue's Lotus collaboration line.