I caught the following post, "Lets call LiveCycle what is really is", which captures a certain zeitgeist as developers and architects try to understand what LiveCycle ES can mean to them. In this post, I’d like to share my thoughts on how I think Software Developers and Architects – particularly those who are already taking Adobe technologies into the enterprise – can think about LiveCycle ES. To summarise, if you’re a software architect or developer, then some of the ways you can think of LiveCycle ES are:
- The backend to your Rich Internet Application front-ends
- A Service Oriented Architecture (SOA) comprising services where information must move between the paper and the digital world, between humans and systems, people and processes
- An architecture upon which you can deliver great experiences on both sides of the glass
If you are a financial service organisation, trying to improve the process of onboarding new customers, increasing conversion rates of customers and driving down the costs associated with abandonment and the inefficiencies associated with manual re-keying of application forms, I might have positioned LiveCycle ES differently to you.
If you were a business analyst in an organisation, responsible for managing a number of electronic forms in your organisation, I might have positioned LiveCycle ES differently to you.
If you were a manufacturing organisation, looking to convert CAD drawings as 3D documents that can be securely exchanged between buyers and suppliers, I might have positioned LiveCycle ES differently to you.
But you’re a software developer, or a software architect, you’re delivering applications within enterprise architectures, you see the value of Rich Internet Applications as a way of improving anaemic, frustrating, page-driven, web-based experiences.
So this description of LiveCycle ES is for you.
The SOA Backend to your Rich Internet Application Front Ends
Several years ago, I used to use the phrase "Enterprise Rich Internet Applications" to differentiate the creation of Flash or Flex based web-applications with the same kind of user-experiences that had the additional complexity of having to be deployed upon upon new and existing enterprise infrastructure, usually J2EE or .NET technology stacks.
For Adobe Consulting – and for many of you – this defines most if not all of the RIA development we undertake today. And when I think about building Enterprise RIA with Adobe technologies, I think about rich user-experiences built with Flex and AIR sitting atop LiveCycle ES on the back-end, alongside other enterprise technology and infrastructure, whether that be J2EE or .NET infrastructure, legacy enterprise information systems, or services from other 3rd parties.
LiveCycle ES – a Service Oriented Architecture
So to think of LiveCycle ES as an SOA, think for now of LiveCycle ES as a suite of services, pre-built by Adobe, that you are free to orchestrate, choreograph, invoke and consume from your own applications. Broadly, you can think of these services as:
- Services that support data capture in both an online and offline environment, and storage of that data in a form that can be acted upon by other services below, or storage of that data in industry-standard formats for archiving, for instance.
- Services that support the dynamic generation, assembly and high-volume printing of high-fidelity documents, merging these documents with data from your applications, and from your enterprise information systems
- Services that support the security and assurance of information that is captured, allowing it to be rights-managed, digitally signed and certified, and securely moved within and beyond your firewall
When you hear about LiveCycle ES "solution components", we’re essentially talking about packages of related services that you may or may not wish to have deployed within your service container. So LiveCycle Forms ES, LiveCycle Barcoded Forms ES, LiveCycle Process Management ES, LiveCycle Rights Management ES, LiveCycle Digital Signatures ES, LiveCycle Output ES, etc, are all just packages of services that you can easily leverage in your own solution architectures.
And if you need a service that Adobe doesn’t offer, then you can simply and easily write your own, that can be deployed within the LiveCycle ES architecture to be invoked and consumed as first-class citizens.
However, an SOA is at it’s most valuable when loosely-coupled services can be composed and reused, seamlessly alongside services from multiple vendors, mixing them and matching them with services in your own architecture.
Composing Loosely Coupled Services into Business Processes
So LiveCycle ES will help there too, allowing you to not just choreograph and orchestrate the invocation of services from your client, but to aggregate and composite services into what we call orchestrations, that reflect your enterprise business processes.
These orchestrations may comprise simple or complex complex workflows that can take seconds or even days to execute (because they require human intervention, they wait for an email to arrive with a signed document, they wait for a human to approve a loan, for instance).
And most importantly, these workflows can leverage out of the box services from LiveCycle ES alongside non-Adobe services that exist on either side of your firewall.
These orchestrations themselves become services within the SOA, which you can easily invoke from your applications from a single end-point. But that’s another level of detail I’ll defer to talk about until my next post.
So when I talk to customers about building innovative enterprise applications, I talk about innovating with Adobe technology "on both sides of the glass".
On the glass, I advocate the business benefits that can be realised by delivering users more useful, usable and desirable user-experiences with Rich Internet Application technologies such as Flex and AIR.
Behind the glass, I advocate the business benefits that can be realised by building these applications upon LiveCycle ES, employing services from the LiveCycle ES "solution components" alongside existing middleware and 3rd party services, to create more innovative and effective business processes where information needs to be moved securely between the digital and real-world, between people and process, and across the firewall. These business processes might support applying for a loan, registering for benefits, choosing a seat on a plane and printing a boarding pass, or all manner of other such applications.
LiveCycle ES by no means demands an RIA presentation tier. But for me, the whole is greater than the sum of the parts. To create great user-experiences on both sides of the glass, to bring rich user experiences to enterprise architectures, think about LiveCycle ES as the SOA back-end for your RIA front-end.
Within Adobe Consulting, this is a repeating architectural pattern for enterprise innovation.