Should I use the Output service or Forms service?

Recently, when I was automating a process, part of the requirement was to merge XML data with a form design that was created in Adobe LiveCycle Designer ES. When you are merging a form design with data from an XML file, you can use either the Forms service or Output service in LiveCycle ES. Depending on how you use the resultant merged form design and data, determines which service best meets your requirements.

If you are merging multiple sets of XML data to create filled forms, use the Output service. For example, if I wanted to create PDF output that could not be modified (non-interactive) for electronic archival, it is best to use the Output service. In addition, I noticed that the Output service was also useful for creating different types of printed output, such as Postscript and would be useful if I needed to print the output. In summary, use the Output service when you require these features:

  • Batch processing or merging one or more records with a form design to create multiple documents.
  • Specifying different print formats and label printers.

  • Controlling of printer settings, such as stapling, label printers, collating, and so on.
  • Using pattern matching to specify different form designs to merge with the data with.
  • Creating a filled and non-interactive PDF file that is useful for archiving.
  • Sending the output to a printer.

If you are merging XML data with a form design where the merged output is used by people, such as an PDF form for an approval process, use the Forms service. For example, if I wanted to merge XML data with a form design to create a PDF form, that PDF form would be an interactive form that could be displayed to person. That person could add data to the form and perhaps click a button so that the form could be handled electronically. In summary, use the Forms services when you require these features:

  • Using form design scripts to transform the appearance of the form, perform calculations, and dynamically generate or retrieve data.
  • Providing mechanisms to render file attachments and to other formats, such as HTML or form guides (8.2).
  • Handling electronic form submissions.
  • Providing mechanisms to pre-populate a form with data.

Hopefully I have whet you appetite with some of the features that the Output and Forms services provide. If you find that you have similar needs in your process, check out the Output service and Forms service sections in LiveCycle ES Services guide for more detailed information.

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