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Adobe's FormsCentral Taps Power of the Cloud

Filling out forms is one of those everyday hassles we deal with while trying to get things done -- forms are the entry point to signing up for events, getting purchase approval for products and services, taking surveys and innumerable other tasks.

Adobe (NASDAQ: ADBE), no stranger to document creation via its creative tools, said it's trying to bring order to the chaos of form creation and management with a new cloud-based service called FormsCentral.

"A lot of the online forms solutions out there today are pretty fragmented and not particularly easy in terms of data collection and analysis," Mark Grilli, director of product marketing for Adobe Acrobat Solutions, told InternetNews.com. "It's a Greenfield opportunity in many ways because there are still so many paper-based forms still in use so it's a huge opportunity. Our main competition is the older way of doing things."

FormsCentral includes a number of starter templates for creating event registrations, questionnaires, contact forms, registration pages, mailing lists and more.

Grilli said Adobe is targeting "empowered knowledge workers" who can't necessarily wait for IT's approval or involvement to get certain tasks done. Other easily accessible cloud-based services like Google Apps have attracted a strong following in some enterprises without necessarily getting IT's approvals.

Launching Monday, FormsCentral includes templates and a free trial version that lets you create one form and collect as many as 50 responses. The HTML-based forms are designed to be viewed by anyone with a Web browser on their computer or device and the service includes management and analytic tools. While Adobe hosts the service, all the data can be easily exported by the creator to Excel, PDF document, or to a CSV file with other formats and integration with other systems planned.

"It's absolutely your data. We don't look at it or index it, we're just a transport mechanism," said Grilli.

In an online demo, Adobe's Varun Parmar, principal product manager for Acrobat Solutions, showed how FormsCentral could be used to quickly create an invitation to an event and to manage registrations. The pre-formatted, professionally designed templates can be edited for new categories and style. For example, with a few clicks of the mouse you can change a list of items to a drop-down menu to save space on the page.

Users can also import original art and customize the templates in a number of different ways.

A social media aspect is that FormsCentral creators can share links to their forms via email, Twitter or Web pages. Forms creators can also offer simultaneous access to the form and survey results to other team members. Adobe said no authorized participant is ever locked out of a document and multiple members of the team can view, contribute to and analyze the data at the same time.

"When you're working on an event or project a real pain point is trying to make sure all the team members are on the same page. Before you had to export a report, wait for more responses to come and send out a new report," said Parmar. "With FormsCentral there's no more sending out attachments; just add recipients to the link and they can see results in real-time."

Forms in FormsCentral are designed to be created as part of a workflow with creators guided through four stages: Design, Test, Distribute and View Responses.

A basic signup to FormsCentral covers up to five forms and up to 500 responses per month for $14.99 per month. The Plus version lets you create an unlimited number of forms with up to 5,000 responses per form for $199 per year.



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