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Adobe brings on the BPM

Adobe LiveCycle 7.0 brings to fruition Adobe Systems' May 2004 acquisition of Q-Link Technologies, maker of Java-based business process management software.

Finally incorporating Q-Link's component-based workflow engine into Adobe's Intelligent Document Platform, LiveCycle 7.0 promises not only to streamline PDF-based workflows, but also to extend document-centric processes to back-0end systems and to users and systems outside the firewall.

The revamped process management suite now also includes business activity monitoring (BAM) capabilities, allowing end-users to configure thresholds and alerts, and to keep an eye on key performance indicators through Web-based dashboards.

In an online demo, Adobe showed off a nice graphical designer that allows business analysts to assemble processes by dragging together logical components called Quick Process Action Components (QPACs).

More than 50 pre-built QPACs make it a snap to insert decision points, branches, task delegations, data transformations and to integrate processes with directory servers, email, FTP, Web services, databases, message queues and other systems.

As you might expect, QPACs also offer ready-made integration with Adobe Document Services such as PDF generation, bar coding, digital signing, document policies and rights management. For scenarios not supported by stock and third-party QPACs, LiveCycle includes an Eclipse-based development environment for creating and debugging your own QPACs.

The results can be spectacular. In the demo, when a customer clicked a Get Help button in an invoice PDF, this launched a connection to a customer service website, offered an interactive 3D view of the product to identify the problem and dynamically generated a trouble ticket populated with the relevant data from customer, product and sales databases. Once a customer service rep clicked his approval, a digitally signed, password-protected and bar-coded return authorisation - set to expire in 30 days - arrived in the customer's email inbox.

For enterprises willing to standardise on Adobe, the combination of LiveCycle, PDF and Adobe XML makes a powerful cocktail.

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The product is distributed by Express Data.

RRP: Contact Express Data for pricing details.