Adobe PDF and the Adobe XML architecture

Adobe offers a comprehensive architecture for document creation, collaboration, and process management. Key components include intelligent forms, process automation, data integration, security, and publishing for archiving and printing. The architecture takes full advantage of XML by presenting the data in Adobe® Portable Document Format (PDF) for reliable sharing, rich viewing, and interacting with the Adobe Acrobat® family, Adobe Reader® software, and Adobe server products. In addition, the architecture makes it possible to link arbitrary XML schemas to forms. The form data can be easily exported, according to the schema, as an XML file, via Web services using Simple Object Access Protocol (SOAP) or directly into databases. The XML schemas for PDF forms can be industry-standard vertical vocabularies (such as eGov, ACORD, and HL7) or custom schemas developed internally.

With this support, you can produce solutions for enterprises (including finance, insurance, health care, and manufacturing), government agencies, and publishing businesses that:

  • Reduce cycle time and increase data quality
  • Produce intelligent XML-based PDF files that automatically initiate or more effectively support business processes
  • Design more intelligent forms with embedded business logic that facilitate business process automation
  • Maintain the appearance and integrity of PDF files using digital signatures, automatic archiving, and more
  • Output tagged Adobe PDF files that automatically reflow for different display devices, and that ensure accessibility for users with visual and other impairments
  • Can be archived for record retention (regulated industries), fraud prevention, and audit trails


Metadata is any data that helps describe the content or characteristics of a file. Adobe's Extensible Metadata Platform (XMP) is a labeling technology that allows you to embed data about a file (represented in XML and known as metadata) into the file itself. With XMP, desktop applications and back-end publishing systems gain a common method for capturing, sharing, and leveraging this valuable metadata.

With an XMP enabled application, information about a project can be captured during the content creation process and embedded within the file and into a content management system. Meaningful descriptions and titles, searchable keywords, and up-to-date author and copyright information can be captured in a format that is easily understood by people, as well as software applications, hardware devices, and file formats. Additionally, XMP encoded metadata can be edited and updated in real time during the normal course of the workflow.

XMP metadata can also be used in conjunction with XML registries to store digital content in a repository for categorization, indexing, and querying as part of a comprehensive content management system.


The Adobe XML architecture

Learn more about how Adobe leverages XML and PDF to enable people to participate in automated processes using Intelligent Documents.

Adobe XML Form Object Model Reference

This paper represents the underlying technology behind the Adobe XML form solution, allowing form developers to create complex and flexible form-based applications for use with the client or the server.


This SDK provides documentation, tools, and sample code to help you build support for XMP metadata into your application.

Sample pages

View sample files containing PDF forms, XML schemas, and sample data to see how XML data can be integrated with PDF forms.

Adobe XML architecture specification

This information can assist you in developing applications that leverage XML for data interoperability and PDF for rich presentation.

Adobe® LiveCycle Designer™

Adobe LiveCycle Designer software enables the creation of forms that combine high-fidelity presentation with XML data handling.

Adobe's commitment to industry standards

Standards help establish a common information sharing infrastructure for the secure and reliable distribution and exchange of electronic documents.