A Brief History of Adobe LiveCycle

“LiveCycle” is a pun on the words “life cycle”. At least for Adobe’s branding team, it is meant to suggest the life cycle of business processes and customer interactions.

To IT operations teams the world over, Adobe’s LiveCycle is Java J2EE-based server-side software that runs on most major server operating systems (Windows, Linux, Solaris, AIX) and three major J2EE application servers (IBM WebSphere, BEA WebLogic, Red Hat JBoss). It is designed to integrate with and fit into existing enterprise infrastructure software such as databases (Oracle, IBM DB2, Microsoft SQL Server, Sun MySQL), directories (Microsoft Active Directory, Sun ONE, IBM Tivoli, Novell eDirectory) and e-mail (Microsoft Exchange, IBM Lotus Notes).

The name itself had its beginnings in “Live Paper Server”. Along the way, it was also the “Intelligent Document Platform” or IDP.

Here is Google’s News Archive Timeline for the word. First mention (in an Adobe context) occurs on June 8, 2004.

People who have installed and configured LiveCycle would have noticed “IDP” in the JNDI name of the LiveCycle data source IDP_DS. That stands for Intelligent Document Platform_Data Source. What is today ‘Rights Management’ was ‘Policy Server’ at one time and started life as “Enterprise Document Control” or EDC. Hence the JNDI name for the data source EDC_DS.

For Internet history buffs, the Wayback Machine is a good place to go snoop. Many of the links in this blog entry are to the Wayback Machine. If you get an error on your first try, it is probably because of trouble with intermediate proxy servers and caching. Try again and again and chances are that your requests will eventually succeed.

Four distinct stages are evident in LiveCycle’s evolution so far although these stages overlap one another from a timeline perspective.

ONE-OFF SERVERS (2001 and earlier)
Adobe’s early efforts produced one-off server products that fit desktop functionality into a server model.

Content Server
April 10, 2001 press release announcing Content Server 2.0

Graphics Server
September 9, 2002 press release announcing Graphics Server 2.0

Distiller Server
December 17, 2001 press release announcing Distiller Server 5.0

Document Server
Oct 21, 2002 press release announcing Document Server.

Acrobat Elements Server
November 17, 2003 press release announcing Acrobat Elements Server.

Adobe starts implementing a planned enterprise strategy, driven by acquisitions.

Acquisition : Accelio Corporation (formerly JetForm)
February 1, 2002
Announces plan to acquire Accelio Corporation of Ottawa, Canada. It described itself as “a leading global provider of Web-enabled business process solutions”. Accelio’s technology and experience formed the basis for Form Server and Form Designer. Accelio’s sizable Professional Services team also formed the core of Adobe’s Professional Services team, since renamed Adobe Consulting.
April 15, 2002
Completes the acquisition.
For a detailed story on the acquisition, please see the September 2004 issue of Canadian Business magazine online.

Acquisition : Yellow Dragon Software
November 5, 2003
Adobe acquires Yellow Dragon Software of Vancouver, British Columbia, a self-described ” leader in the development and implementation of ebXML, an open standard technology”.

Acquisition : Q-Link Technologies, Inc.
May 3, 2004
Adobe acquires Q-Link, a privately held company based in Tampa, Florida. At their website, it claimed to have the “leading Business Process Management development platform and the fastest solution for delivering process-driven applications.” This technology formed the basis of LiveCycle Workflow/Process Management.

Release : 6.0 August 2004
First release was numbered 6.0 to synchronize with the then shipping version of Adobe Acrobat which was 6.0 (PDF 1.5). Also, the previous release of Form Server from Accelio (C++ based) was 5.0 although Form Server 6.0 was a re-write.
Form Manager
Form Server (history at Anthony Rumsey’s blog)
Reader Extensions Server

The brand “LiveCycle” is devised and introduced. All products are now prefixed with LiveCycle, for example, LiveCycle Policy Server.

Release : 7.0 July 2005
Form Server renamed to Forms, and the word “Server” removed from Reader Extensions Server.
New products added to the family :
– Policy Server
– Document Security
– Workflow
– Assembler
– Barcoded Forms ST (stand alone, non-Java (C++), Windows-only)

An Adobe press release from September 6, 2005

Release : 7.2 November 2006
J2EE Clusters now supported although configuration is manual.
New products added to the family:
– Print
– PDF Generator

COMMON SERVICE ARCHITECTURE (June 2007 to August 2011)
Release : Enterprise Suite (ES) (8.0) June 2007
Major re-architecture towards SOA, document service container introduced, Form Manager shelved, added Flex-based Workspace user desktop and Eclipse-based Workbench developer IDE. Installation simplified with a robust LiveCycle Configuration Manager (LCM). Solution Components (formerly called “products”) now are aware of one another.

Policy Server renamed to “Rights Management”. Document Security renamed to “Digital Signatures”. Barcoded Forms ported to J2EE and runs on all supported operating system platforms.

All solution components now have a “LiveCycle prefix and an “ES” suffix, for example, LiveCycle Rights Management ES.

Release : ES Update 1 (8.2)
LiveCycle entered the 64-bit world with support for 64-bit JDKs from Sun (HotSpot), IBM (J9) as well as BEA (JRockit). It is IP v6-compliant. LiveCycle Configuration Manager (LCM) now automatically configures J2EE clusters (except a JBoss).

Release : ES2 (9.0)
It had several architectural enhancements. PDF Generator conversions of native Microsoft Office documents are now multi-threaded. Configuration of the J2EE appserver is simplified because JMS (Java Messaging Service) is no longer used and therefore not required to be configured. This is a big deal for WebSphere environments where JMS configurations are complicated. J2SE version 1.6 is supported, along with 1.5. 32-bit JDK support is very limited. The Turnkey install for Oracle WebLogic has been discontinued.

Release : ES2.5 ( SP2)
This is the current shipping release. Adobe attempts to reduce time to deployment with the introduction of three “solution accelerators” (SAs), a new version of Workbench (v9.5) and SP2. In accordance with Adobe’s strategic decision to build out a large partner ecosystem, the SAs are designed to enable partners to be able to offer repeatable solutions to their respective clients. The SAs are “Interactive Statements”, “Managed Review and Approval” and “Correspondence Management”.

Acquisition : Day Software AG
Adobe acquired Day Software Holding AG based in Basel, Switzerland in October 2010 (it was announced in July, 2010). With this acquisition, Adobe’s portfolio of enterprise software products included CQ5 (Web Content Management – WCM) and CRX (a Java Content Repository – JCR). CQ is short for the original name of the product – Communique. CRX is an acronym for Content Repository eXtreme.

Retirement : Adobe retires the “LiveCycle” brand and folds its functionality into the new “Adobe Digital Enterprise Platform” (ADEP) brand.

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