From BPM, ERP, Adobe LiveCycle bridges apps across the board
Flash and PDF combine with J2EE server to streamline IT development and reduce support costs
You probably know Adobe for its Flash creative software, Acrobat document processing systems, and now RIA (rich Internet application) development using Flex technology. What you might not realize is the company's BPM (business process management) strength, with about 1,500 clients employing Adobe BPM enterprise solutions.
True, early BPM success was helped by purchases of Accelio and Q-Link (for forms design and workflow, respectively). But over the past three years Adobe's smartly accomplished two things with all its assets that other leaders in the BPM space – EMC, Global 360, and IBM – have yet to match: provide superb development tools and deliver a satisfying experience to end-users as they interact with applications through rich interfaces.
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Because LiveCycle sits on top of your existing customer data, these interfaces form the bridge to content management repositories, sales force automation systems, ERP (enterprise resource planning) applications, and legacy applications. More importantly, by enabling easy interaction with these systems, it's more likely that users will not abandon Web technologies for more expensive support routes, such as phoning call centers or submitting paper forms.
To evaluate LiveCycle ES, I deployed the full Business Transformation Edition on a Windows 2003 Server running JBoss. I then set up several Windows XP workstations (connected to the server) running LiveCycle Workbench ES to develop forms and documents, and to design business processes. My first test assembled a mortgage application that might be used by financial institutions. In a second exercise, I created a Flash interface (called a Form Guide) to a Documentum data repository by employing the LiveCycle ES Connector for ECM, which greatly simplified an application found in life sciences where investigators record details of drug trials that are subject to strict regulatory compliance.
Both tests resulted in applications that were easy to deploy and administer with intuitive user interfaces. Moreover, there were no development pain points as I created forms and then inserted the business logic to secure and route them, output to PDF and Flash, and performed related tasks, including e-mail notifications.
Fully equipped workshop
Workbench is an interesting hybrid, one that should satisfy the needs of hard-core developers, more casual forms designers, and business analysts. One important distinction from others' development systems is that you work connected to the LiveCycle ES server; this means you always have access to resources stored on the server (such as images and reusable code snippets) as well as the ability to call services running on the server.