Adobe Enterprise Developer - Intelligent Document Platform

Intelligent Documents

The vast majority of automated business processes that transfer information, such as transactions of any kind, involve a person who must review and sign off on the information before the process is completed. This gap in the automation of a process raises the issue of how to include people in the process without sacrificing productivity. Reviewers need to quickly read and comprehend relevant information, presenting it in the form of a data schema simply slows down the process. The alternative is to develop your own way of presenting this information, which is costly and time-consuming.

It's not necessary to reinvent the wheel: technology and standards already exist to involve people in automated processes. Adobe provides a solution that uses the standard Portable Document Format (PDF) and the eXtensible Markup Language (XML) to encapsulate and present information in a way that makes interaction easy and automated.

Adobe's combination of PDF and XML creates Intelligent Documents that can dynamically interact with core applications and integrate people into business processes. Adobe built this solution on a secure and flexible Java™ 2 Platform, Enterprise Edition™ (J2EE™) architecture. This combination extends the power and reach of enterprise applications inside and outside the firewall. The platform leverages Adobe Document Services to create Intelligent Documents and integrate them into business processes.

Not Your Father's PDF

Originally PDF primarily appealed to graphic artists, designers, and publishers for color page layouts, but with more than 165 million PDF files available on the Internet today, it now has a more than ten-year track record as the de facto standard for electronic documents and forms. One reason it has been so successful is that it preserves the fonts, images, graphics, and layout of any source document, regardless of the application and platform used to create it. PDF files are compact and complete, and can be downloaded, shared, viewed offline, and printed by anyone with free Adobe Reader® software. To date, more than 500 million copies of Adobe Reader have been distributed.

An open file format specification, PDF is available to anyone who wants to develop tools to create, view, or manipulate PDF documents. More than 1,800 vendors now offer PDF-based solutions, ensuring that organizations that adopt the PDF standard have a variety of tools with which to leverage the format and customize document processes. Government and commercial organizations worldwide have already adopted PDF to streamline document management, increase productivity, and reduce the need for paper documents and archives. To learn more about the many benefits PDF can offer, click here for more information, including the published specifications.

PDF and XML: The Intelligent Document

PDF has evolved into the most effective container for data that needs to be exchanged among applications and users. Leveraging the ubiquitous Adobe Reader, enterprises can deploy static electronic documents and Intelligent Documents both internally and outside the firewall. Providing a familiar look and feel that makes electronic documents as easy to use as paper, PDF can be combined with XML schemas to create an interface that enables people to participate more directly in business processes.

Anyone with Web access can use the Adobe Reader or a Web browser to view and edit information in intelligent forms that act as the front end to enterprise applications. Organizations can work with customers and partners in the way those constituents prefer using desktops or laptops (running Microsoft® Windows®, UNIX, Linux, or Mac OS), PDAs, or mobile phones, through the universal Adobe Reader client and through Adobe's support for browsers (HTML and JavaScript™).

Intelligent forms and documents have the same look and feel as static forms and documents, but can also include important enterprise data and business logic to allow for pre-population (pre-filled information such as customer names or account numbers) and automatic calculations (such as mortgage interest rates). What makes these forms intelligent is the ability to define business logic within the form. An example of this kind of business logic might be, "If this person doesn't review this form within two days, route it to the next person on the review list." By using business logic within the form, an enterprise can accelerate business transactions and reduce delays in getting products to market.

Pre-populated forms can provide a front-end interface for managing business processes with custom Web applications, and for interacting with Web services. Forms can be integrated with enterprise systems through Web services so that data-entry events trigger an associated workflow. Forms can also be used in WebSphere Portal deployments so that form filling and submission can be included as features on a portal page.

In addition, PDF documents can be routed to a list of people, retaining the embedded rights so that the next recipient has the same functionality enabled. As information is added or updated, the document serves as a vehicle for returning the information to the enterprise applications, helping the enterprise avoid costly and error-prone manual data entry.

The combination of XML and PDF offers the best features of both. XML offers powerful data and business logic functionality and is ideal for exchanging core data among diverse enterprise systems and devices. In addition, the rich presentation and document control capabilities delivered by PDF put a user-friendly face on enterprise data. The combination of PDF and XML helps enterprise architects build modular components and create incremental solutions quickly and easily. These advantages enhance communications and help automate and accelerate the flow of business-critical information, while maximizing investments in existing technology and systems.


Adobe PDF and XML Architecture

Adobe offers a comprehensive architecture for document creation, collaboration, and process management.

Draft Adobe XML Forms 2.1 Specification

PDF Specification

XML Data Package Specification

Working Samples

Demonstrate PDF forms created with Adobe XML/PDF form designer.

Adobe LiveCycle Designer Trial Download

Adobe LiveCycle Reader Extensions Trial Download