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Adobe ties documents to back-end applications

Adobe Systems, known primarily for its desktop publishing tools, is to extend document-based processes to core business applications.

Yesterday Adobe rolled out its Document Server, which lets users dynamically generate customised PDF files from a variety of data sources. Document Server uses XML to integrate with existing workflows and applications such as ERP, CRM, and EAI, according to Shawn Cadeau, director of product management for server products at Adobe.

Adobe's PDF format is a rich information container capable of packaging together multiple file formats into a high-resolution, secure format, he said. "What you really need in addition to viewing [capabilities], you need data to interoperate with existing applications and infrastructures and that is done through XML."

The Document Server also includes support for Java, Soap, Perl and COM, allowing programmers to develop scripts to automate the creating of PDF using existing tools. The server software also supports XSL-FO (Extensible Style Language Formatting Objects), a standard for describing XML document formatting.

Adobe also introduced the Document Server for Reader Extensions, which is designed to assign usage rights to PDF forms and documents that allow features such as commenting tools, digital signatures, and offline usage. The PDF forms and XML data can be integrated with back-end applications to create a bi-directional workflow.

The new offerings attempt to automate disconnected, paper-based processes and integrate them with business applications.

The addition of the Document Server products will help push PDFs deeper into the enterprise, where they are already widely used for business transactions because of features such as digital signing, editing, and printing.

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