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MacEdition Pro News : April 7, 2003

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Acrobat drops the .doc bomb

by MacEdition Staff (feedback)

PDF: The MoAB of all documents

Adobe Systems melded their PDF format with XML and the process created a massive document platform that can reach out at touch everything from mainframe computers to cell phones.

The company launched its all-out assault on the corporate document workspace by announcing a new version of Acrobat, coupled with announcements of vendor alliances for Acrobat products that extend the reach of the document platform to embrace markets ranging from creative publishing, to government and financial institutions, to large scale multi-branch enterprise and back again.

Adobe Systems Incorporated, the leader in network publishing, announced a broad strategic initiative that could promise to significantly reduce the costs and operational inefficiencies caused by disconnected data and document processes across the extended enterprise. Adobe is leveraging open standards such as XML and Adobe(R) Portable Document Format (PDF), best-of-breed products and technologies from Adobe and its partners, along with new system integrator relationships to deliver powerful, customized solutions adapted to enterprise requirements.

Adobe’s XML architecture supports end-to-end document processes. Key components include intelligent forms, process automation, data integration, security and publishing for archiving and printing. The architecture will be supported across Adobe’s client and server solutions and will integrate Adobe PDF. It will take full advantage of XML for integration and bring continuity to business processes by presenting XML data in PDF for reliably sharing, viewing and interacting through Acrobat(R) 6.0 software or Adobe Reader.

In making its announcements Adobe indicates that it is turning its attentions for the XML-enhanced PDF flavor of Acrobat 6 into a web-based business forms platform.

Adobe announced it is working with IBM to integrate its PDF-based Form Solutions into Big Blue’s DB2 Content Manager software with a view to capturing both the American and Japanese government markets, both of which are grappling with the issues of reducing paperwork within their respective organizations. From there it’s only a leap of logic to other markets where the solution would be attractive, say the companies in the joint release.

“Governments and businesses must find new ways to make operations more efficient, while at the same time enhancing services for constituents,” said Ivan Koon, senior vice president, ePaper Business Unit at Adobe. “By working with IBM, our combined solution will deliver greater efficiency and ultimately better service by integrating document processes with business transactions.”

The key area of product integration between the two companies will be with Adobe Form Server, an intelligent data capture product that enables governments and businesses to publish Adobe Portable Document Format (PDF) and HTML forms to the Web. The software improves the quality of data captured by including embedded calculations and validations, speeds data capture into backend databases and improves the accuracy of forms submissions. The information will then be stored in IBM DB2 Content Manager, a comprehensive enterprise content management infrastructure that manages and integrates unstructured data in a wide variety of content – from HTML, PDF and XML Web content to electronic office documents to rich media.

Adobe entered into a similar alliance with Documentum to create a forms server aimed at government regulated industries like: financial services; manufacturing; and pharmaceuticals, markets where Documentum’s EMC server software is already a heavy hitter.

In a related announcement Adobe also inked an agreement with ACCESS to incorporate its PDF technology into ACCESS’s NetFront web browser to make PDF documents accessible to PDAs, mobile phones and other embedded platforms. ACCESS has sold 80 million licenses for NetFront and has versions of the software running on Pocket PC, Java and Linux in addition to a half-dozen other lesser known operating systems.

Sticking closer to its graphics home, Adobe also announced a new version of Acrobat to be sold under the Acrobat Pro banner. The Pro version of the software now has tools to preflight documents and the information can be embedded in the document so printers can be forewarned about output trouble spots before attempting to output a file. The Pro version also sports an output preview and has new tools for cutting color separations, in addition to picking up XML support.

In a completely unrelated event, Quark Inc. announced it has contracted with Global Graphics Software to use Global’s JAWS PDF libraries in the upcoming release of Quark Xpress 6. The libraries will allow Quark documents to be viewed as high resolution PDFs.

The standard version of Acrobat will sport a new interface which Adobe says is oriented more towards completing specific tasks rather than using certain tools to create a document.

In addition to the standard version of Acrobat, Adobe is also releasing an Elements version of the software, aimed at placing inexpensive PDF creation tools on corporate desktops. The Elements variant will only be sold in multi-user license packages.

The venerable Acrobat Reader – the widely distributed read-only version of the software - will now be rebadged as Adobe Reader. It will continue to be a free download once the entire Acrobat family hits the streets in May.

The Macintosh variant of the Acrobat 6 family will be limited to running on OS 10.2.

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