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Adobe server adds smarts to PDFs

Targeting business customers, Adobe improves workflow tools in its LiveCycle forms-processing server line.

Looking to garner more sales to business customers, Adobe has beefed up its server software for handling the flow of business forms based on the PDF format.

The company on Tuesday is expected to release an upgrade to its Adobe LiveCycle Document Services line, which includes an enhanced process management server. It also has signed on third-party software companies to build add-ons.

LiveCycle Document Services, which starts at $65,000 per server, is a suite of servers for updating and routing PDF documents. An insurance company, for example, can build a form-processing application sent to different people as part of a company workflow.

With version 7 of the LiveCycle suite, Adobe will provide tooling to make more sophisticated applications, according to company executives. The workflow process software will gain a Java-based server and design tools which Adobe acquired last year when it bought Q-Link for $15.9 million.

Using the LiveCycle Document Service visual design tool, developers can sketch out a workflow, get data from back-end applications, and configure access privileges to documents. The product uses Web services protocols and XML to connect to other systems.

By using the PDF format, Adobe workflow applications can route documents between different companies, noted Steve Rotter, senior product marketing manager. Many other process workflow products lack the forms-building software that Adobe has with Acrobat, he claimed.

Adobe's workflow product is a central component to the company's effort to increase sales to corporate customers, which totaled about $100 million last year, according to the company.

It faces competition from other workflow software providers as well as larger platform providers, including Microsoft and IBM.

IBM bought electronic business forms provider PureEdge in July and intends to use it as a front-end tool for tying into IBM data sources.

Microsoft, meanwhile, is enhancing the workflow software on top of its Office suite and it intends to offer an XML-based document format similar to Acrobat called Metro.