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Adobe Adding CMS Features to Upcoming LiveCycle Release

With LiveCycle ES Update 1, due in July, Adobe adds enterprise content management features, support for conversion of 2D and 3D engineering documents, and new Solution Accelerators for faster roll-outs of the LiveCycle software.

LiveCycle began as an enterprise forms builder, but has evolved fairly quickly into an integrated suite of solutions for process management, document generation, document security and enterprise content management.

"Content has always been a big part of the LiveCycle workflow," said Brian Wick, marketing director for the LiveCycle product. "The update gives our customers the ability to deliver content-rich engagement applications -- whether it's a form in process, a welcome packet, product information or marketing info-faster through a fully integrated set of content services."

Adobe partnered with Alfresco to provide the new LiveCycle Content Services ES component in this release. Alfresco is a provider of an open source enterprise content management solution, which Adobe has embedded in LiveCycle as a solution component. This component comprises an enterprise content repository, social collaboration tools and enterprise forums, along with new features such as check-in/check-out, versioning, auditing, archiving/retention and access rights management. "It can be designed right into an application, just as all of the other solution components," Wick explained. "It allows our customers to have the content repository element right there, ready to go."

This version also comes with the new LiveCycle PDF Generator 3D ES, which is designed to automate "the creation, assembly, distribution and archival of Adobe PDF files from a wide-range of business applications and formats," the company said. An extension of the capabilities of LiveCycle PDF Generator ES, the 3D Generator supports a broader range of CAD and engineering file formats.

The LiveCycle development environment, an Eclipse-based IDE called Workbench ES, comes with several enhancements in this release, including: record-and-playback features for debugging LiveCycle apps as they are run on the server; process validation tools for ensuring that processes are ready to add to the server; advanced typographic controls for better control of text formatting through pair kerning, horizontal and vertical scaling, letter spacing, and dot leaders. This version also provides developers with a new dialog box for locating services. This seemingly simple feature frees developers from having to navigate a tree of nearly 200 services.

The new version of LiveCycle also broadens the scope of the platform's ability to export applications with their assets -- variables, images, documents, etc. -- to a single LiveCycle Archive file (LCA). The new version adds to that list the defined service endpoint configurations and their security. This means that deployments can now be scripted, which eliminates many manual steps previously required, Wick said.

As part of this announcement, the San Jose, Calif.-based company also unveiled a set of Solution Accelerators, which it describes as "deployable solution frameworks and best practices methodologies" for decreasing application development time.

"More than 5,000 customers are using LiveCycle," said Wick, "and we've noticed some trends in their usage of it. We've captured a lot of the learning, from both management and coding standpoints, and we've developed application elements that can be downloaded for free. They're not just samples or templates, but actual elements of code that our customers can deploy."

Adobe currently offers two Solution Accelerators: "Enrollment," which Wick described as a two-way work flow: "Someone fills out a form, submits it, and that kicks off a workflow environment"; and "Correspondence management," which is more of a one-way push of information. Both are applicable to financial services organizations and government entities.

"Clearly, LiveCycle has come a long way," observed Bola Rotibi, industry analyst with Macehiter Ward-Dutton. "I would like to have seen more of an emphasis on helping organizations really understand how their IT teams need to be structured to take the best advantage of LiveCycle. Here they are with an enterprise solution, but it's not always obvious who in the enterprise should be developing applications on top of it. What kinds of roles and what kinds of skills are needed? So I quite like the Solution Accelerators, part of which looks at the staffing question. It's something that was needed."

Update 1 also provides support for the latest Adobe clients (Reader 9, Acrobat 9, Flex 3, and Adobe AIR). Adobe's cross-operating-system runtime environment for building rich Internet applications (RIAs) using Flash, AIR, will figure prominently in future versions of LiveCycle, Wick said.

More information is available at here.

About the Author

John K. Waters is a freelance writer based in Silicon Valley. He can be reached at john@watersworks.com.

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