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Adobe buys XML software maker

The publishing software giant acquires Yellow Dragon Software, a privately held maker of XML software for messaging and managing metadata.

Publishing software giant Adobe Systems announced Monday that it has acquired Yellow Dragon Software, a small company that specializes in XML tools that will support Adobe's electronic document strategy.

Vancouver, British Columbia-based Yellow Dragon makes two products that help business use XML (Extensible Markup Language), the widely spreading standard for exchanging corporate data among disparate computing systems. Terms of the deal for privately held Yellow Dragon were not disclosed.

Adobe will initially focus on the company's XML registry software, which keeps track of the metadata behind XML-based files. Adobe will incorporate the registry software in future server products, said Chris Ethier, senior product manager for Adobe, to provide an integrated way for customers to track XML-enabled documents created in Adobe's Portable Document Format (PDF) and other formats.

"We like to make the analogy of index cards in a library," Ethier said. "The cards are what contain all the metadata for the library, telling you where everything is. That's what the XML registry does."

XML is a key part of Adobe's strategy to expand PDF, already widely used for electronic distribution of documents that are later printed. XML functionality is particularly important as Adobe tries to expand PDF as a format for creating and distributing electronic forms.

Yellow Dragon's other product is a server application for securely exchanging instant messages based on Electronic Business Extensible Markup Language, an XML dialect. Adobe hasn't finalized plans for how the messaging product will be integrated into Adobe's server software line, but the service will likely serve as a PDF adjunct for verifying delivery of electronic documents, Ethier said.

"This is like a courier service, but done electronically," Ethier said. "Normally the courier would require a signature. Now I have a secure electronic way to do that."