I talked to someone here at Wharton today who is fairly familiar with Adobe’s products and has a good handle on the history of LiveCycle and what it does (and more importantly, what it tries to do). In fact for anyone who is curious about the beginnings of LiveCycle, I suggest this article – Getting Reorganization Right: How Bruce Chizen Drove Change and Innovation at Adobe Systems – at Knowledge@Wharton (it’s worth subscribing to if you’re interested in business, but the article is syndicated [here]) . It’s a good read and in it, Bruce Chizen talks about the ability to make money off of a free product, Acrobat, by making it the standard and then building infrastructure up around it. Part of this infrastructure is LiveCycle.
Now I know a lot of us dislike Acrobat. When word first broke that Acrobat and Flash were being combined, it set off a small firestorm. Acrobat however, does some really cool stuff. The problem is that 90% of Acrobat users are just using it to view documents on the web. (If only there were some kind of company that Adobe could acquire with a tool that could streamline viewing web documents.)
After looking at LiveCycle, I think ColdFusion can empower developers and take advantage of what makes Acrobat good. For instance, Adobe has some cool PDF form features. You can do validations Flash forms, and Flash forms are perfect for the web, but lets say you want to create a secure form with a digital signature. Or you want a form that someone can download and work with offline and you want to include a barcode? Those are difficult (if not impossible) to do with Flash Forms, but what if you had <cfform format=”pdf”> that you could build that kind of functionality into. We could create powerful, dynamic PDF forms on the fly that play to Acrobat’s strengths.
In heavily regulated industries or in industries that have a lot of paper requirements, being able to generate forms with those kinds of features built in is a huge achievement. Putting that functionality into ColdFusion would be great for the product. Adobe Acrobat is bloated, unwieldy and overkill for most of the things it’s used for, but it really does have some value if used correctly. Hopefully the ColdFusion team and the LiveCycle team are talking to each other about these kinds of features.Tweet