Guided self-service applications

Guided self-service applications allow customers to access information and perform routine tasks without requiring any interaction with a representative of an enterprise. They can also reduce operational costs through decreased paperwork and lower call center activity. Users can be given relevant information in the context of the transactions they are trying to complete and even have real-time collaboration with a representative when required. Examples of guided self-service applications are product configurators, online banking and e-commerce.

Rich Internet applications (RIA), such as those created using Adobe Flex 2.0, are an ideal candidate for creating a guided self-service application for the web.

Adobe Flex 2.0 can simplify complex, multi-step processes in a single, dynamic interface that provides a higher level of service to customers, resulting in deeper loyalty and higher-value relationships. An RIA built using Adobe Flex can also provide in-context prompting through audio and video integration providing the real-time collaboration required by self-service applications.

While a guided self-service application is an excellent means for effectively capturing data and providing a superior user experience, a complete Enterprise solution will also require the ability to archive signed documents, provide output that can be printed and offer the ability to go offline. An RIA cannot satisfy all of these requirements on its own but it should be able to integrate easily with additional server solutions in order to gain this additional functionality.

Adobe LiveCycle products are able to produce documents that can be signed, printed, archived and filled offline by dynamically generating PDFs that can be viewed using the Adobe Reader.

A RIA created using Adobe Flex and an application created using Adobe LiveCycle can then be integrated into one complete solution.

Want to learn more? Attend Adobe MAX during October 24 – 26 in Las Vegas and be sure to check out some of the Adobe LiveCycle sessions.  In particular there is an Adobe LiveCylce Forms workshop that will show how to create and integrate a guided selef-service application using Adobe Flex and Adobe LiveCycle Forms.

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LiveCycle Forms at Adobe MAX

All of the LiveCycle products are being featured in a number of different sessions at Adobe MAX this year.  Whether you are interested in designing forms, capturing data, developing a workflow or are curious to see what is coming in the next release there is something for everyone no matter what their level of LiveCycle experience is.

This is the first year that LiveCycle technology is being showcased at Adobe MAX and along with all the valuable sessions, attendance at this event will also provide you with access to a number of evangelists, product managers and developers of the LiveCycle products.

If that is not enough reason to attend I will also be presenting a workshop at Adobe MAX on combining Adobe Flex and Adobe LiveCycle Forms to create a guided self-service application.  This is one session that should not be missed by Flex and LiveCycle developers!  I will be posting more details specifically about my workshop soon.

Visit the Adobe MAX website to register and to get more information.

See you October 23-26!

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A brief form server history

I was reading a posting recently on FlexLive.net about how Live Cycle has yet to cross the technology chasm. This got me thinking about Live Cycle Forms and in particular its form server component. Did you know that this core piece of LiveCycle Forms is now seven years old?

The form server began as a research project back in 1999 in order to leverage the power of another fledgling technology called XFA. The idea was that with form templates being defined in XML one could dynamically generate forms for a variety of clients. The form server was first released as ReachForm and marketed as the easy way “for people to access and submit forms online using the Internet”. The major feature of ReachForm then was its ability to generate form content for any browser from a single XFA definition. One could even generate multi-page HTML applications complete with client and server side scripting!

The form server was originally a Windows only COM-based solution written in Visual Basic. As a result it was a Windows only solution but could also be accessed by non-Windows platforms using SOAP.  Over the next four major releases new transformation formats were added (including PDF!) as well as digital signature support and higher performance.

Today, COM is long gone and has been replaced by Java and J2EE. Some old features have been dropped but new ones have been added as well. Even still, while its implementation is vastly different the underlying architecture and core capabilities of the form server has largely remained the same.

My point here is that while LiveCycle does indeed have a chasm to cross the chasm itself keeps moving.  What makes a good technology great is its ability not only to cross the chasm-of-the-day but also manage to keep up with change. Technology is liquid and any great software must be able to mold and transform itself in order to meet the demands of technology. The form server has proven itself over the past seven years that its core architecture is able to keep up with the pace of changing technology in the enterprise and still deliver the same great results.

The form server technology that is now part of Adobe LiveCycle Forms has stood the test of time and will continue to be innovative well into the future.

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Hello Nation

Welcome to Form Nation!

As this is my first post as part of the Adobe blogging community I will provide you with the obligatory details on who I am and what I do.

My name is Anthony Rumsey and I am a software developer at Adobe. I am currently busy developing new technology that integrates Adobe Live Cycle Forms and Adobe Flex. Both of these products are extremely powerful on their own but when combined the possibilities will knock your socks off! Prior to entering the world of Flex I was one of the main developers on the Form Server product, which later became Live Cycle Forms. I also dabbled in software verification when I first started at Adobe in 1998 fresh out of University.

That is me in a nutshell. As for this blog I plan to write mainly about Live Cycle Forms and Flex with particular attention being paid to their integration since they is where my experience lies. I am sure I will also throw in other topis periodically just to keep things interesting.

Let the quest begin!

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