Adobe teaches PDF documents to speak XML

Adobe Systems is teaching PDF (Portable Document Format) documents how to speak XML (Extensible Markup Language) to provide ties to enterprise systems.

The company is working on a new version of its Form Designer product that will allow companies to include XML schemas when creating forms. These forms can be distributed in PDF or XDP (XML Data Package) format. Once filled in, they can be processed as a PDF or as XML, Adobe said.

XDP files are XML files that contain XML form data, XML form templates, PDF documents and other XML information. They work with enterprise applications via common XML tools and Web services, according to Adobe.

"Enterprise systems are already speaking XML so we are delivering XML technology customers have asked for," product manager in Adobe's ePaper Solutions Group, Charles Myers, said.

For example, a bank can make a loan application form available online. A customer can fill it in offline using the free Acrobat Reader software from Adobe, and then submit it to the bank.

Because the data was submitted as XML, it could go directly into a loan processing system that supported XML, Adobe said.

Form Designer is a product Adobe acquired when it bought Canadian electronic-forms software and service provider Accelio in April last year. The new version of the software was scheduled to be available in early 2004, with a beta test phase planned for the fourth quarter of this year, Adobe said.

Pricing for the new Form Designer has yet to be determined. The current version costs $US1695, according to Adobe's website.

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