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
Workbench makes building forms quick for anyone with Acrobat skills. In less than two hours I'd finished my mortgage form – a process that involved dragging objects onto the workspace and adjusting their properties. For even more efficiency, I created fragments (such as footer text) and XML schemas (describing a block of common elements), that others could reuse.
To automate my loan application, I switched to the Process Design view; its visual techniques should make business analysts feel right at home. Working with an interactive process diagram, I added a pool (the overall process) and then inserted swim lanes to define various operations (such as routing the mortgage application based on the amount of the loan requested).
Lastly, I activated the mortgage application as a service – and turning to the LiveCycle ES server console – configured who could access the service. Server administration is browser based, so it shouldn't take datacenter staff much time to manage the system.
My pharma application was based on form guides – alternate views of forms based on Flash that make data capture easier for users. Put another way, you break the form down into digestible chunks, then place detailed instructions on each frame to help users enter data. After building a form guide in the separate LiveCycle Designer ES package, I imported the assets into the LiveCycle ES repository and added the appropriate processes in Workbench ES. While this development requires some understating of advanced system settings, Adobe's done a very good job documenting the steps. Therefore, I believe most developers should be able to handle tasks after a week or so of training.
To round out the pharma application, I called additional LiveCycle services: LiveCycle Forms ES (to render the form guides as Flash files), Digital Signature ES (to certify authenticity), and Rights Management ES (to limit access). Like other aspects of development, I performed these tasks by dragging appropriate steps into the process diagram and configuring each service by adjusting its properties.
Tasks that aren't taxing
Adobe offers multiple ways to interact with forms, including the stand-alone Acrobat Reader. However, I focused on testing LiveCycle Workspace ES, which is the RIA element of the server. After assigning access rights to my pharma application, users started a data-entry process from the understandable Workspace interface. Yet Workspace is equally a portal for employees. In my mortgage application, after a potential client submitted a request, the form appeared in the Workspace To Do section of the appropriate bank officer for action.
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This solution rounds out with LiveCycle PDF Production Print ES, where you produce template-driven documents in high volume, and LiveCycle Barcoded Forms ES, for representing forms data with 2-D bar codes that can be automatically included on downloaded or printed PDFs.
With Adobe LiveCycle Enterprise Suite, the company leaves your existing content repositories intact. First and foremost, this suite hones in on Adobe's specialty – providing customers and employees with a gratifying experience when using your data-driven applications. In turn, as more people use these automated processes, organizations should be able to reduce paperwork, improve turnaround time for requests, and see cost reductions as labor-intensive support is reduced.