The Adobe® XML Architecture

The Adobe® XML Architecture
TECHNOLOGY BRIEF
The Adobe XML Architecture
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Introduction
UNITED STATES
TABLE OF CONTENTS
As enterprises struggle to balance the need to respond to continually changing business
Zip/Postal Code:
1 Introduction
priorities against ever-shrinking budgets,
IT managers
are looking to find ways to extend
Job Function/Title
-- Select
One--
1 Adobe XML Architecture
Company: their investments in core business applications such as Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP),
3 XDP—Extending the
flexibility of XML and PDF
# of Employees:
4 Full Support for Arbitrary XML
Customer Relationship Management (CRM), and Content Management (CM) systems.
-- Select # of employees -One of the most effective ways to do this is by replacing their slow, costly, and error-prone
Department:
-- Select your department -paper-based processes with faster, more
accurate, and more efficient automated processes.
Industry
-- Select One--
The Adobe XML architecture combines the powerful data and business logic capabilities of the
Is your organization facing any of the following
eXtensible Markup Language (XML) with the rich presentation and enhanced security capabilities
business challenges today?
-- Select One-of Portable Document Format (PDF). This
combination provides organizations with a step-by-step
migration
manual,
paper-based
workflows to streamlined automated processes that fully
Do your currently
havefrom
an active
project(s)
in
place to address
these electronic
business challenges?
integrate
documents and forms.
Each One-step extends the value of your investment in core
-- Select
applications by increasing the quality of the data in the process and accelerating process cycles.
If 'Yes', what is your timeframe to implement a
new Answers:
processes still deliver the look and feel of familiar paper documents, thereby complying
new businessThese
solution?
-- Select One--
with regulatory requirements and increasing the rate of user adoption.
The Adobe XML Architecture
Adobe offers solutions for streamlining business processes with a robust set of document services,
comprising both server and desktop applications, that create and integrate intelligent documents.
These solutions extend the reach of core applications to users within and outside the organization,
as documents can be accessed and interacted with across heterogeneous platforms and devices
using the free and ubiquitous Adobe Reader® client.
Intelligent documents are the ideal way to connect people, processes, and applications in any
workflow, because they offer a secure and reliable format for presenting content while including
the business logic necessary for capturing and interacting with data stored in back-end systems.
Additional benefits of using a document-centric approach for interacting with core applications
instead of HTML-based interfaces include:
Meeting regulatory compliance requirements. Many government agencies require digital documents
to look and feel exactly like the paper versions they are already using.
Overcoming users’ resistance to change. People are accustomed to working with paper documents
and forms, so creating electronic replicas of these familiar documents provides a comfort level
that accelerates the adoption of new streamlined processes. This results in reduced training costs
and greater compliance with organizational policies.
Supporting offline workflows. There are many people involved in business processes that cannot be
directly connected to core applications, such as mobile workers or customers and partners that are
outside the firewall. Because intelligent documents carry data and business logic within them, these
users are able to fully participate in a process without being connected to the enterprise applications.
5 Designing Enhanced
Business Logic into Forms
6 Leveraging the New Architecture
7 Conclusion
8 Appendix I: Applying XML
to a Business Process
10 About Adobe
The Adobe XML architecture is a key enabler of intelligent documents and forms.
XML is an open standard often used for data exchange and is a preferred format when data simply
needs to move from one application to another. However, people need a way to interact with XML data
that makes it easily consumable, while maintaining the ability for applications to work easily with the
data when necessary.
PDF has become a de facto standard for the secure and reliable exchange of documents. To date, more
than 500 million copies of Adobe Reader have been distributed worldwide, which has contributed
to users developing a high comfort level with PDF documents. As the presentation layer for intelligent
documents, PDF provides a familiar and consistent user experience for people to interact with XML data.
The advantages of combining PDF and XML include:
• XML data can be embedded within digital documents and forms that are high-fidelity
replicas of their paper counterparts, while still enabling the direct integration of XML data
with enterprise applications.
• PDF can include business logic, such as calculations and data validations, resulting in improved
quality of captured data, thus reducing process delays.
• People can participate in processes while they are offline, because XML data travels within the
PDF document.
• Users can extend and customize metadata within PDF.
• PDF files include a variety of security options, from access restrictions to electronic signatures,
that help protect sensitive company information.
• XML data can be locked down by the PDF container to create documents of record and to
comply with the PDF/A industry standard for electronic document archiving as recently
mandated by the US National Archives & Records Administration. The association of XML data
to its display format is critical to maintaining an audit trail, combatting fraud, and protecting
the abuse of raw data stored in databases, which is especially critical in highly regulated industries.
• Users can participate in XML workflows any time, anywhere, on any device through universal
clients such as Adobe Reader or Web browsers.
The Adobe XML architecture leverages the capabilities of XML and PDF to support a variety
of business applications, while offering connectivity to systems through a variety of industrystandard and Adobe technologies (see Figure 1).
Figure 1
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Adobe XML Architecture
2
XDP—Extending the Flexibility of XML and PDF
With the Adobe XML architecture, depending on the requirements of the process, documents
can be created in PDF and then processed as PDF is today, or expressed in an XML Data Package
(XDP) and processed as XML. An XDP file is simply an XML file that packages a PDF file in XML,
along with XML form and template data.
Because an XDP file is an XML file, standard XML tools, system interfaces, and Web services can
work with it, and the XML data is directly accessible. Additionally, a person can view and interact
with the PDF document using the free Adobe Reader or the Adobe Acrobat® family of products.
An XDP file contains several distinct blocks of information, as shown in Figure 2.
Figure 2
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XML Form Data. This component is the user data encoded according to an arbitrary XML schema
chosen by the form developer during the design phase. The schema can be an industry standard, the
enterprise’s standard, or completely customized. Some examples of industry-standard schemas are
ACORD (insurance), XBRL (finance), HL7 (healthcare), and SF424 (eGovernment).
XML Form Template. This component contains all the form intelligence, including the
mapping of XML form data to PDF form fields as well as all the business logic that controls
the interactive behavior of the document, such as calculations and data validations.
XML Configuration Information. The XML form template uses this component as a global reference
for database and Web services SOAP connections.
Other XML Information. XDP files can include custom XML information such as a schema file
to facilitate validation, XML digital signatures, content metadata to facilitate archiving, or data
used by a custom digital document application.
PDF Document. XDP files provide all the traditional PDF benefits of precision document
layout and high fidelity printing by embedding the PDF in an XML element.
An XDP file is an XML file, so all XML tools, XML system interfaces, and Web services can work
directly with it. The XML data is directly accessible.
Adobe XML Architecture
3
Consider the following factors when deciding whether PDF or XDP is the appropriate representation
for a given process:
Use PDF when:
Use XDP when:
• File size and transmission time
are important
• Documents and form data must
travel in XML workflows
• Documents are large
• Form data needs to be manipulated
with XML tools
• Document is packaged with
supplementary data or images
• Documents will be stored in an
XML repository
Both formats are treated identically by Acrobat and Adobe Reader and can be used online and offline.
Full Support for Arbitrary XML
The Adobe XML architecture also supports user data in an arbitrary XML format. So if your
organization uses a standard schema for purchase orders, account information, or project schedules,
your PDF forms can directly use XML data structured according to this schema. Figure 3 shows
the advantage of this approach. Once you have a schema for something like an order, interface
designers can create form layouts for human interactions while application developers can use
the same schema to build Web services interfaces for the back-end system integration.
For example, customers at companies who haven’t invested in enterprise applications can download
the form, fill it out, and submit it via e-mail, or alternatively, a user can simply click a Submit button
on the form to send the data to a Web services interface via a SOAP message. For an organization
that has implemented ERP, the application can directly connect to the service interface, generate
the appropriate XML data, and invoke the service. But the end result is the same. The order processing
system gets a completed XML document that conforms to the desired schema. When you want
to accommodate human interaction in an automated process, this approach reduces the cost of
requirements analysis, interface development, and back-end integration.
Figure 3
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One Form, Two Processes
The XML within the form is used to directly interact with enterprise systems,
but can also be rendered to PDF when people need to participate in the process.
The Adobe XML architecture uses an object-oriented approach to map user XML form data and
data from dynamic sources to particular fields in the form layout. You can also apply an XSLT
transform to the user form data before performing this mapping. This option is useful if your
organization needs to support two different schemas for the same information—for instance,
an internal standard and an industry standard. You can reuse all the form logic, and then simply
apply the transform to convert data from one format to the other.
Adobe XML Architecture
4
Designing Enhanced Business Logic into Forms
While supporting arbitrary XML form data incrementally improves the ease of integration, the
addition of XML-based business logic significantly increases the efficiencies of business processes
and the quality of the data used in those processes.
A new Adobe form designer that is in development will enable enterprises to more easily take
advantage of a wide range of capabilities that are included in the Acrobat 6.0 product family and
Adobe Reader 6.0. In addition to providing a graphical interface for designing highly structured
form templates that include the ability to align each form element precisely, the new tool will also
enable form authors to import XML schemas and graphically map them to form fields. Advanced
palette tools, widget inspectors, and interactive wizards will greatly simplify adding logic, such as
setting valid data ranges, restricting access to certain fields, or setting up Web services connections.
These capabilities deliver a powerful client platform with a rich user interface, the ability to
execute intelligent actions, and direct connectivity to back-end systems, without the need for
server-side processing.
The capabilities provided in the new design tool will include the following:
User Interaction. You can simplify filling out forms for users by adding enhanced functions,
such as defining a formula for calculating fields from data in other fields. Formatting can also
be applied dynamically, such as when tabbing out of a field or making additional entries.
Validation Constraints. To reduce data entry errors, form designers can include data validation
within a form. For example, you can specify constraints on the data type or range of a single
field, or define particular relationships that must hold among data in a group of fields. Another
example is including restrictions based on a user’s role, such as disabling a customer’s ability to
access certain fields that are reserved for internal administrators.
Data Connections. Users often need to dynamically retrieve the most up-to-date version of
certain information, such as customer contacts, production volume, stock prices, and approval
status. Forms allow you to retrieve such information using ADO, ODBC, or SOAP.
Automated Submission. In many cases, it may be more convenient for users to submit forms
directly to an automated system instead of e-mailing them. Forms can be directly submitted via
HTTP POST or SOAP.
The Adobe XML architecture is consistently implemented across the Adobe Acrobat family,
Adobe Reader, and Adobe server products to deliver a complete solution that connects
documents, people, and processes across the enterprise.
Adobe XML Architecture
5
Leveraging the New Architecture
Adobe’s new generation of PDF is a complete solution platform for processes based on intelligent
documents. As in the past, the PDF and XDP specifications will be published and made publicly
available. In addition, the software development kit will include XML features for the new generation
of forms and interfaces for common languages such as Java, JavaScript, and Visual Basic.
You can start taking advantage of PDF and XML electronic forms capabilities and proceed
incrementally as time and budget allow, while achieving ROI at each step with increasing levels
of forms sophistication.
• As a first step, simply converting paper-based forms to PDF reduces the distribution costs by
enabling forms to be e-mailed or downloaded from a Web site. Users can then print a form,
fill it in, and send it back. Paper forms can be scanned and converted to Adobe PDF using
Adobe Acrobat Capture®. Forms can also be converted into PDF from native file formats such
as Microsoft Word.
• As a second step, users can fill in forms online and then print them. This step improves the
legibility of the captured information and, when calculations and validations are included in
the form, the accuracy of the data is improved.
• The third step is to enable electronic submission of the form, including applying digital
signatures. The XML data can be directly integrated into back-end systems, thus reducing
errors associated with rekeying.
• The final step enables forms to initiate and continue through complex business processes, with
data being added to the form as it moves through the workflow and integrated into multiple
systems along the way. Advanced network services, such as Web services or data connectivity,
can also be addressed for more sophisticated business interactions.
With current Adobe Form Designer, you can import Adobe PDF forms that have been scanned
or converted from other file formats or design them from scratch using a graphical interface that
provides precision layout capabilities. Form authors can then add intelligence, digital signature
capabilities, data binding, and more to the template. The form can be deployed in multiple
formats, as shown in Figure 4.
When the new form designer is available, you can easily migrate existing forms to enable the
support of arbitrary XML and the ability to save forms as either PDF or XDP.
Figure 4
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Adobe XML Architecture
6
Conclusion
The Adobe XML architecture provides a robust and scalable technology framework required for
enterprises to exploit the unique capabilities of XML and PDF.
• As a standard language for exchanging data with enterprise systems, XML offers powerful and
flexible data integration, business logic, and routing capabilities.
• PDF enables users to participate in any XML workflow by presenting data in a secure and
high-fidelity format for human interaction, across multiple platforms and devices.
• By embedding XML data within a PDF document, users can work online or offline, initiate processes
based on the data within the form, and archive data and documents for process integrity.
• By packaging XML and PDF in an XDP container, files can be manipulated with any type of
XML tool to access document content in the most appropriate format for each process.
The Adobe XML architecture provides the fastest and easiest way for enterprises to move to
fully automated and integrated document-based processes to improve customer service, reduce
operation costs, and gain competitive advantage.
Adobe XML Architecture
7
Appendix I: Applying XML to a Business Process
The following is a simplified example of a Request for Proposal (RFP) process used by a manufacturing enterprise that solicits bids from multiple parts suppliers. The company wants to automate
the process to simplify and accelerate the evaluation process.
1. The manufacturer designs a form template once that can be used in future RFP processes.
2. The RFP is generated as a PDF file, prepopulated with each supplier’s existing data, and sent
to the prospective suppliers to fill in and submit.
3. Each supplier fills in the form, adds comments, assembles it with supporting documentation,
and digitally signs the form so that the manufacturer can validate its authenticity and integrity.
4. When the supplier clicks the Submit button on the form, the data is automatically integrated
with the manufacturer’s enterprise applications.
5. At the same time, the completed document and attachments are routed to the appropriate
people for evaluation. As the document moves through the workflow, it can be managed with
automated deadlines and escalations to ensure timely processing. Data can be transferred
between the document and the core applications at any point throughout the process, so the
systems contain up-to-the-minute information.
6. When a winning proposal has been selected, a contract that combines data captured from the
RFP with the manufacturer’s standard terms and conditions is dynamically generated.
7. The supplier receives the contract in PDF to add a digital signature, and the locked-down
document can be archived in the supplier’s system as a document of record.
Figure 5
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This diagram illustrates the steps above and shows how Adobe server and desktop
products will work with the XML architecture throughout this example process.
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Adobe XML Architecture
8
Intelligent data capture
The new Adobe form design tool will provide an easy-to-use interface for designing XML forms
that enable precise alignment of form elements, incorporation of rich visual elements, and the
addition of business logic, such as calculations, validations, and form field binding.
The Adobe Form Server run-time engine merges XML data from enterprise applications, legacy
systems, and other databases into the templates to be delivered across any channel: Web, e-mail,
mobile devices, and PDAs. Because the Adobe Form Designer stores forms as an abstract description
of the layout and behavior, Form Server can deliver the form in the format appropriate for any
device (and browser version), without needing to create new templates for each channel.
Additionally, the XML forms can be deployed either as PDF documents or as a series of HTML
screens to help users step through the form filling process. The XML data can then be integrated
into applications through a variety of mechanisms, including directly to a database via ADO or
ODBC; via Web services using SOAP; or to any server, including Form Server and Web servers
using HTTP POST.
Business process management
When more complex processes require human intervention, Adobe Workflow Server uses a rulesand roles-based process model for managing workflows to ensure process integrity and consistency.
Workflow Server includes a graphical designer that specifies the process in Figure 5, adding the
necessary decision points and possible exception handling to this primary flow.
The design tool then generates an XML process description and installs it in Workflow Server.
In addition, third-party tools can easily extract the stored data from the XML for purposes such as
efficiency analysis and process optimization. As with Form Server, Workflow Server also uses XML
for integrating data back into the core applications.
Adobe products can also integrate with third-party workflow engines, including those that are
included with enterprise applications.
Dynamic document generation
Adobe Document Server generates, assembles, and manipulates documents that contain customized
data, content, and graphics. In the process represented in Figure 5, Document Server generates the
final contract. It could also be used to create the original RFP document, and automatically include
related documentation, such as bills of materials, technical drawings, and demand forecasts.
Using XML for both the integration and business logic associated with document generation
makes it easy for any application to use Document Server to create complex, personalized
documents that contain dynamic content from enterprise applications and static template
elements, such as corporate logos and boilerplate text. Document Server also leverages XML
for presentation capabilities by supporting automated customization of content produced
using World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) Extensible Stylesheet Language Formatting Objects
(XSL-FO) and graphics produced using W3C Scalable Vector Graphics (SVG).
Adobe XML Architecture
9
Client interaction
Whenever the RFP process requires people to view or interact with the data, they can use the
Adobe Acrobat family or Adobe Reader to view the rendered PDF document.
For example, the supplier would use these clients to fill in the RFP form, apply a digital
signature, and submit the form. The manufacturer could then route the completed PDF form
to employees to review and comment on, while protecting the source content of the original
documents. The information stored in the comments is stored as XML data as well, so it
can be customized or used to interact with core applications.
Adobe Reader lets users view and print any PDF document, and fill in and submit online forms
that have been created with Acrobat Professional 6.0. As well, files can also have additional rights
enabled using Adobe Document Server for Reader Extensions, which lets users of Adobe Reader
save forms locally, work offline, add comments, and apply digital signatures. This allows the
manufacturer in the example to have any supplier participate in the electronic RFP process,
with no additional costs for the supplier.
About Adobe
Founded in 1982, Adobe Systems Incorporated helped launch the desktop publishing revolution.
Twenty years later, Adobe software products and solutions lie at the heart of Network Publishing,
an equally innovative communications model. With Adobe tools for Network Publishing,
enterprises, creative professionals, and home and office users can make reliable, visually rich
information available to anyone, anywhere, on any device. One of the world’s largest PC software
companies, Adobe generates annual revenues exceeding US$1 billion. Today, over 3,000 employees
across the world share Adobe’s commitment to helping people communicate better. Headquartered in San Jose, CA, Adobe is traded on the Nasdaq National Market under the symbol ADBE.
Adobe Systems Incorporated • 345 Park Avenue, San Jose, CA 95110-2704 USA • www.adobe.com
Adobe, the Adobe logo, Acrobat, Acrobat Capture, Adobe Reader, and Tools for the New Work are either registered trademarks or trademarks of Adobe
Systems Incorporated in the United States and/or other countries. All other trademarks are the property of their respective owners.
© 2003 Adobe Systems Incorporated. All rights reserved. Printed in the USA.
95001839 6/03
FOR MORE INFORMATION
Visit www.adobe.com/xml
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