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Adobe joins XML and PDF

Adobe Systems Inc., San Jose, Calif., yesterday announced the marriage of PDF and XML to produce an intelligent electronic document format that both humans and software applications can read.

A new Adobe forms designer, slated for beta testing later this year can, according to company officials, make it possible for a bank to create an online loan form that a customer would fill out using Adobe Acrobat Reader. When the form was submitted to the bank via the Web, it would be readable by the bank's loan processing system because the data would be in XML.

The new forms designer makes use of XML Data Package (XDP) technology to place the PDF file in an XML wrapper, explained Marion Melani, senior product marketing manager at Adobe.

"An XML Data Package is an XML file that can be used by any system or industry-standard XML tool and it includes the XML data, the form of the data, as well as the template information," she said. "It also wraps up a PDF file and includes it in Base 64 encoding, so you can open the XDP in Acrobat Reader or any of the Acrobat family of products and you've got the full PDF right there ready to be used. So you now have the ability send around an XML file, which is what a system would expect, but there's also the PDF for the human presentation."

As Adobe envisions it, the intelligent forms technology will help end the current practice of having people download forms from a Web site, fill them out, and then mail or fax them back, according to Chuck Myers, senior product manager for the new forms designer. With half-a-billion copies of Acrobat Reader in use today, he said, Adobe expects its XML/PDF design tool will become a key technology for Web services applications that interact with consumers or business users.

Information regarding the XML/PDF form designer, Adobe's XML architecture specification, intelligent documents and form samples is available at www.adobe.com/enterprise/xml.html.

About the Author

Rich Seeley is Web Editor for Campus Technology.

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