Designing forms for higher performance on Mobile devices

Mobile Forms in Adobe® LiveCycle® Enterprise Suite 4 (ES4) software offers rendering of XFA form templates in HTML5 format. This capability enables the rendering of forms on mobile devices and desktop browsers on which XFA-based PDF is not supported.
As the rendition of forms is targeted for devices which have limited processing capabilities / network bandwidth, a few considerations should be kept in mind while designing the forms. Most of these suggestions are applicable even for XFA forms which as accessed through HTML Workspace on a desktop, but due to limited resources on the tablet/mobile device, a special focus is required for such devices.

  • Reducing the number of nodes in the form: HTML forms generates Model and HTML DOM elements for the various elements of an XFA form. Each of these elements contain various properties to control the view and behaviour, thereby increasing the overall DOM structure. Following approaches are suggested to reduce the number of elements:
    • For a field the label should be provided through the caption and not through a separate text object (apart from performance it also helps in managing the form and avoid any layout issues).
    • Draw elements do not participate in information capture, and are required more for the readability and appearance. Design should ensure that where possible multiple draw texts should be merged into single draw text element.
  • Resource optimization and compression: Following approach should be evaluated for compression of resources:
  • Handling large forms: There are instances when the form need to capture large amounts of data resulting in hundreds of fields in the form. The following points should be kept in mind while designing the form:
    • From a usability perspective filling multiple small forms is more convenient than filling a large form. So one should evaluate splitting the large forms.
    • For a form which has multiple sections, each section may be divided into a separate page which loads when the user moves to the next page (Mobile Forms by default loads the next page on user interaction for page scroll).
    • Conditional sections/sub-sections may be hidden by default and made visible only when the required condition is met.
    • A tabbed navigation may be introduced to have only a section of the form visible at a time (this also assists in resolving usability issues in large forms).
  • Handling tabular data:
    • Avoid columns which are not actually required to be filled-in by the user.
    • In case certain read-only columns (which do not capture the information, but are required to describe the information in the rows) are required – evaluate if such columns can be merged into a single column.
    • On a mobile device a user would be able to view only a subset of tables having large number of rows. In such a scenario introduce a paged navigation where the data is populated from a hidden data table into a visible view table having limited number of rows and columns.

Note: For special cases where the XFA forms contain large sections of elements which are not required during form filling (and are required only for Document of Record), a more aggressive approach to reduce the number of nodes can be to maintain different copies of XFA forms – one for form filling, and one for generating Document of Record on the server. This approach involves maintaining two copies of the same form and the performance gain needs to be evaluated keeping in mind the maintenance overhead.

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Moving Over to AEM Forms – It’s Easier Than You Think

Adobe is well known for its PDF forms capabilities and the LiveCycle platform that’s made it possible to deliver and integrate enterprise forms and document solutions with our customer’s back-end systems.  While PDF form capabilities and LiveCycle have matured, many organizations find themselves facing new challenges serving an increasing mobile and web-centric world. Consumers and citizens want the same engaging experience in their business transactions that they get in their day to day e-commerce web activity.

  1. How do you seamlessly enable citizens, customers and employees to interact and transact with your organization across a huge array of devices in the market today?
  2. How do you gather and analyze data on how users access your website and forms and determine ways to better optimize that experience?
  3. How do you reduce operational costs while at the same time converting prospects and retaining existing customers?

As a market leader in Web Experience Management and Digital Marketing, Adobe clearly has the tools to address these new challenges.   Earlier this year, we released Adobe Experience Manager forms (AEM forms).   AEM forms leverages the web content management capabilities of Adobe Experience Manager and the analytics of the Adobe Marketing Cloud to help organizations easily develop, publish and manage enterprise forms and documents for desktop and mobile web.   We have had a very positive response from customers about these new capabilities — but a little bit of confusion on how they can leverage it in their own existing LiveCycle infrastructure. Do our customers have to do an expensive and time consuming technical migration from LiveCycle to AEM forms?  No, a lengthy technical migration isn’t required to take advantage of the new rich features in AEM forms.

AEM forms encompasses all of the capabilities of the LiveCycle platform and more.  Existing LiveCycle customers can seamlessly upgrade their existing applications and can start developing customized forms for web and mobile.   All of the powerful and mature capabilities of the LiveCycle platform are available to AEM forms customers.   So if you are excited about the possibilities of AEM forms (as we are), but are worried about what it will take to get there – don’t be.

Check out AEM forms

Contact us on how to upgrade to AEM forms today!





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“Purge completed records after” not editable

Issue: You are trying to change the purge options on the LiveCycle AdminUI > Health Monitor > Job Purge Scheduler but you can’t edit the field “Purge completed records after” because when clicking into this field it doesn’t get the focus. There is no cursor blinking and you can’t type into the field.

Solution: Tab into the field using the tabulator key on your keyboard. Note that the tab order is so that you have to place the cursor into the field “Recur every” and then press the tab key four times.

Background: An invisible object seems to be overlaying the field.

Issue occurs since LiveCycle ES3 and is still reproducible with ES3 SP2 and ES4 SP1.

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LC Designer: Wrong variable getting deleted

If you are working on a form in LiveCycle Designer which has not just form variables but also object collections and/or script objects all those will be listed on the Hierarchy tab under Variables.

Issue: If you delete a form variable from the Form Properties dialog (File > Form Properties > Variables) the wrong one will get deleted if the variables are not sorted.

Background: On the Hierarchy tab you see all three types of variables: form variables, object collections, and script objects. On the Form Properties dialog you only see the form variables. Designer seems to internally number the variables top to bottom. This will cause a form variable on the Hierarchy tab to have a different internal number than the same form variable on the Form Properties dialog if the three kinds of variables are not sorted.

Example: In the screenshot below the variable “v8_form_variable” is the eighth item in the list.


If you open the Form Properties dialog to look at the form variables the same variable is now the third item in the list, see screenshot below.


If you now delete that variable, close the Form Properties dialog, and look at the Hierarchy tab, you’ll notice that instead of “v8_form_variable” the item “v3_script_object” got deleted. You deleted the third item in the list on the Form Properties dialog but Designer deleted the third item in the list on the Hierarchy tab.

Solution: You can either sort your variables on the Hierarchy tab in the way that form variables appear at the top of the list, see screenshot below. Or you can simply not delete form variables form the Form Properties dialog but directly from the Hierarchy tab instead (right click > Delete).


Reproducible with the following LiveCycle Designer versions: ES2, ADEP, ES3, ES4

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Adobe Reader Mobile and XFA forms from LiveCycle Designer

As the world becomes increasingly more mobile, we hear a lot of questions about dynamic PDF forms created in the LiveCycle Designer and mobile devices.  These forms use an underlying XML structure called XFA (XML Forms Architecture).   This XML structure is pretty powerful and allows the form to grow and shrink based on data or user actions.  It also provides a scripting model that lets you do some amazing things and interact with objects on the page through code.   Many enterprises require this kind of capability for their complex forms.

Along with the changes in the world where more and more people connect to the internet with mobile devices comes a variety of operating systems and browsers.  Some of these operating systems place restrictions on what can be done on the device and most of the browsers now provide their own PDF viewers which are not as capable as the Adobe Reader on the desktop.   This makes it very difficult (impossible actually) to provide the same dynamic PDF experience you expect on the desktop across all mobile devices using PDF.  As a result, Adobe Reader Mobile does not support XFA based PDF’s created in the LiveCycle Designer and it will not provide this support in the future.

Fortunately the XFA structure also allows a single form definition to be transformed into a number of different targets besides interactive PDF.  To target mobile devices and ensure a consistent experience across devices (and on the desktop too!) we’ve created a Mobile Forms capability that renders the same template design for PDF to HTML5 and preserves the layout, scripting and dynamic capabilities.  Given the nature of HTML and the web, this is not a single file like a PDF that can be routed around in email.   It’s an online experience rendered by a server.   Using a server platform there are a lot of other capabilities that come into play such as prefilling forms with data, form management, forms workflow and document generation.  For more information on AEM forms please see our web page.

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Posted in Adobe LiveCycle ES4, General Interest | 5 Comments

Watermarks of dynamic length

This article explains why a watermark might exceed the boundaries of a page or appear at different positions whenever its length changes.

By default, when adding a watermark using LiveCycle Assembler invoking a DDX, it is placed in the centre of the page with no rotation. The watermark can be rotated and positioned using the following attributes:


Note: These values are examples. For full details of the syntax and a description of additional attributes to use with watermarks please see the latest Assembler Service and DDX Reference

There are two things to keep in mind when adjusting a watermark:
(1) The watermark will be positioned first and rotated after, regardless of the order in which the attributes are listed.
(2) When applying rotation, the centre of the watermark’s bounding box is used as a fixed centre of rotation. Imagine your watermark without rotation and with a frame around it. This frame represents the bounding box. The centre of that box is the fixed point for its rotation.

For example, if you want your watermark to appear at the left border of your page and rotated by 90 degrees, set the horizontal anchor to “left”, rotation to “90”, and use the horizontal and vertical offset to fine-tune its position.

With a watermark of a fixed length, the fine-tuning is done with fixed values.

Watermarks with dynamic length, however, require the offsets to be calculated dynamically as well because of points (1) and (2) above.

The graphic below demonstrates why. When working with watermarks of dynamic length you’ll have shorter watermarks and longer watermarks. For a shorter watermark the fix point for the rotation is further left than for a longer watermark.


After rotation your watermark might exceed the page boundary. In the sample below you need to adjust the vertical offset to move it further down. Notice that you need a greater vertical offset for the longer watermark and a lesser vertical offset for the shorter one. The longer watermark appears further right than the shorter one. Use the horizontal offset to adjust that. Notice that if you want both watermarks to appear at closer to the left border of the page you need a lower horizontal offset for the shorter one than for the longer one.


To avoid the dynamic calculation of offsets when working with watermarks of dynamic length, keep them at the centre of the page.

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LiveCycle on JBoss with Oracle having multiple schemas

Sometimes user may face issues while configuring LiveCycle on JBoss with Oracle having multiple schema.  One of the them are TIMERS and HILOSEQUENCES tables not found. This issue can be resolved using the following steps-

For JBOSS 4.2.1

  1. Timers Table- Please edit $JBOSS_HOME/server/$PROFILE/deploy/ejb-deployer.xml file to change the table name from TIMERS to something like schemaname.tablename.
  2. HILOSEQUENCES Table – Please edit $JBOSS_HOME/server/$PROFILE/deploy/uuid-key-generator.sar/META-INF/jboss-service.xml file to change the table name from HILOSEQUENCES to something like schemaname.tablename.

For JBoss 5.1 and 5.2.0

  1. Timers Table- Please edit $JBOSS_HOME/server/$PROFILE/deploy/ejb2-timer-service.xml file to change the table name from TIMERS to something like schemaname.tablename.
  2. HILOSEQUENCES Table – Please edit $JBOSS_HOME/server/$PROFILE/deploy/uuid-key-generator.sar/META-INF/jboss-service.xml file to change the table name from HILOSEQUENCES to something like schemaname.tablename.


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LiveCycle ES4 Certification Exams Now Available

The LiveCycle Adobe Certified Expert (ACE) exams are now available through Pearson VUE.   Becoming an Adobe Certified Expert gives you advanced skills recognized and respected by employers. By proving your expertise with Adobe solutions, you demonstrate your commitment to advancing your skills and taking on greater challenges.  We’ve streamlined the LiveCycle certification process and now offer two certifications:

  • Adobe LiveCycle ES4 Designer ACE Exam
  • Adobe LiveCycle ES4 Server ACE Exam

You can schedule your exam and download the exam preparation guide from the Adobe training services site.

Good luck on your exam!

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Adobe Summit 2014 in Salt Lake City

There’s less than two months to go until the digital marketing event of the year.

This year, the Adobe Summit (March 24-28) in Salt Lake City will feature the largest Digital Experience Management (DEM) track to date with dozens sessions focused on web experience management, digital asset management, social communities and experience-driven commerce.

Topics include inspiration and pragmatic tips on how to:

  • Create world-class websites, micro-sites, and landing pages that build brand and deliver a personalized experience
  • Extend the reach of your marketing campaigns across all digital channels including social and mobile
  • Build brand loyalty and engagement with your customers utilizing key concepts and technologies already available to you today

You will also see live demos of Adobe Experience Manager 6, the most exciting and innovative release to date. And this year, Adobe Experience Manager forms and documents powered by LiveCycle has its own session on March 27: Open for online business: Making complex forms easy for web and mobile users.

Register by January 31 to receive $200 off:

Become a founding member of the AEM Community to get an early invite to the annual AEM party and access to pre-Summit online events. Learn more here:

I look forward to seeing you at Summit 2014!

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LiveCycle update: Forms, documents, and the Adobe Marketing Cloud

2013 was an exciting year for LiveCycle. I want to take a moment to update you on how we are continuing to invest and innovate in forms and documents, and provide an overview of our 2014 plans.

In 2013, we introduced LiveCycle ES4, a major release that extends rich form and document experiences to mobile users. Shortly afterwards, we began integrating these capabilities into Adobe Experience Manager, enabling  organizations to easily create, manage, and publish forms and documents in conjunction with a market leading web content management solution. To date, we’ve released three form and document capabilities:

The feedback from customers has been overwhelmingly positive. Over the last three quarters, many customers have migrated to Adobe Experience Manager forms and documents while preserving their investments in LiveCycle forms.  By integrating form transactions and document confirmations into their web and mobile engagement strategies, they can extend their reach and maintain brand consistency while managing all assets from a single platform.

We will continue to provide updates to LiveCycle customers, while deepening our integration with Adobe Experience Manager to help government, financial institutions and other regulated industries easily engage with citizens and customers through secure, compliant, yet easy-to-use forms and documents. Stay tuned as we announce new features and releases in 2014.

Arun Anantharaman
Senior Vice President Products
Digital Marketing

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Posted in Adobe LiveCycle ES3 | 1 Comment