Archive for May, 2009

Customizing form guides using CSS: Missing in action

Everyone is apologizing these days. Automakers in the US, financial institutions around the world, that guy who bumped into me in the lobby this morning. I figured it was my turn.

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Forms IVS – A Form-tastic Development and Testing Tool

Adobe LiveCycle ES provides a sample web application called Forms Installation Verification Sample (IVS). This sample is a web-based application that interacts with the Forms ES service to generate interactive PDF forms, HTML forms, and form guides that users can fill and submit. After you deploy the Forms IVS, you can use a web browser to render form designs created in LiveCycle Designer ES for testing purposes. Another use for the Forms IVS application is for debugging the forms in isolation from the rest of your LiveCycle ES application that was created in LiveCycle Workbench ES.

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Troubleshooting the LiveCycle ES Configuration Manager

After running the standalone (non-Turnkey) JBoss LiveCycle ES Installer, you select the “Start LiveCycle Configuration Manager” option, but nothing happens. You then try to browse to the directory where you installed LiveCycle ES (e.g. D:\Adobe\LiveCycle8.2\configurationManager\bin), double-click the ConfigurationManager.bat file, and a Command Prompt window appears and closes in seconds. The LiveCycle Configuration Manager does not start. You check the log file (ConfigurationManager.000), but there are no log messages indicating the error.

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Thinking About Form Design

This is not an official Adobe endorsement.

There, I said it. Now that we have that out of the way, I thought I’d share a reference that I’ve come to respect over the last year or so.

http://formulate.com.au

I had the good fortune to meet Ms. Enders at the Business Forms Management Association (BFMA) symposium in Las Vegas last year. I was impressed by her presentation on form design techniques, not the least of which because it seemed like a topic that a lot of form design professionals at the symposium were eager to learn more about. In particular, check out Ms. Ender’s articles section (http://formulate.com.au/articles/). There’s a lot of good information in there that I think is worthwhile reading, for experienced form design professionals and newcomers alike.

Design, and design thinking, is really becoming integrated into all facets of business these days, and it only makes sense that it plays a large role in terms of how organizations implement form solutions. How best to capture user data, I learned at the symposium, is not something that is always well understood. Contemporary research into user behaviors and more effective design is often overlooked by form solutions, which really means that the poor individual who must fill out the form — sometimes called a “customer” — is left to suffer. Then, of course, it’s the organization that suffers through additional costs and inefficiencies associated with data entry errors.

Ms. Enders is just one of a number of people out there who are bringing some formal design principles and research to the form design space. If you have links to other sources that you have found useful, please comment directly to this blog and share. We’re always curious to know who our readers are reading, and I’m sure other readers would be interested to know as well.

Have a good day.

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Comparing Alfresco Enterprise Edition and Adobe LiveCycle Contentspace ES

People sometimes ask what the difference is between Alfresco and Adobe LiveCycle Contentspace ES, so we thought posting a quick overview on the subject would be helpful.

LiveCycle ContentSpace ES is based on Alfresco 2.1 and offers full Alfresco functionality*, plus LiveCycle Content Services ES. Adobe added more service capabilities by extensively customizing the Alfresco user interface and by integrating various LiveCycle Content Services ES solution components.

Technically speaking, these are the key differences between Alfresco Enterprise Edition and LiveCycle Content Services ES:
- Web Content Management is not embedded or distributed.
- Replaced jBPM with LiveCycle Process Management ES.
- Replaced PDF libraries.
- Enhanced security to enable single sign-on (SSO) with other LiveCycle components such as Workspace and integration with Adobe User Management.
- Added support for the full LiveCycle ES 54 platform matrix including clustering/failover.
- Integrated LiveCycle ES solution components such as LiveCycle Workspace ES, LiveCycle Rights Management ES, and LiveCycle PDF Generator ES.

The key architecture of Alfresco in terms of Java APIs, ACPs, customized content models, actions, and so forth, are the same.

Using LiveCycle Contentspace ES, end users can manage the content through library services such as versioning, check-in/checkout, rights protecting, and archiving according to policies. Developers can also implement processes to enable end users to interact with content and automate procedures like document transformation and PDF generation, rights management, as well as workflows like data capture, and document review and approval.

Along with the Alfresco content management system capabilities, LiveCycle Content Services ES provides the following functionality.

Process automation

Content Services ES can leverage LiveCycle ES for business events by running processes based on content events, such as adding new documents to the repository. A process can also wait for content events to occur, such as a completed document review.

Users can perform the following tasks:
- Attach files, such as reports to a form, and submit the form. After the form is submitted, both the data and the attachments are saved, and can be opened and viewed in the same form layout.
- Access different form applications or content types in the same portal.
- Search and browse by association between processes and documents, and by process and document attributes.

Process initiation

Developers can run processes from LiveCycle Contentspace ES and leverage LiveCycle Workspace ES to review and approve content.

Form rendering

Developers can set up the following form rendering tasks:
- Pre-populate forms by using content or metadata.
- Render forms with attachments from Content Services ES.
- Update forms with a new version of assets referenced during run-time.
- Keep form template versions consistent during the life cycle of the process.

Information protection

Content Services ES can leverage LiveCycle Rights Management ES to automatically apply policies to content that is stored in the repository. Using Rights Management ES, organizations can protect PDF documents. The policies are applied transparently to content when users retrieve content from the repository and save it on the local file system, send content by email to someone who is external to the organization, or place content on devices such as USB keys.

Document output

Content Services ES has pre-built actions that developers can use to automatically convert documents to other formats (for example, from MS Word to PDF). Also, developers can configure actions to start short-lived processes for assembling a set of documents within a shared space into a package, generating PDF files from three-dimensional content, or converting content to PDF/A format for archiving.

* LiveCycle Contentspace ES does not utilize the Web-based Distributed Authoring and Versioning (WebDAV) file server configuration capabilities of Alfresco.

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Latest Tech Notes

Here’s the list of Knowledge Base tech notes that the LiveCycle ES documentation team has published in the past month:

Form guides containing custom components cannot preview in Guide Builder or render by using LiveCycle ES (8.2)
• Adobe LiveCycle Designer ES (8.2) included with Adobe Acrobat 9.0 does not include the flex-sdk-description.xml file
• JacORB modifications
• OmniORB modifications
• Updated information for upgrading client applications in LiveCycle ES from 7.x for WebLogic

Other LiveCycle ES teams (like Adobe Support) also publish tech notes. You can search the Knowledge Base for a complete list of tech notes that were published within the last few months.

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