Friday, May 25, 2007

LiveCycle Enterprise Suite (ES) preview release

LiveCycle Enterprise Suite (ES) preview release is available for download from . Yes folks, this is the next version of LiveCycle.

Some of the changes in LiveCycle are quite significant in this release. Notable features include:

Installation and Configuration
  • consistent installation and configuration experience from a single installer.
  • better support at detecting environment settings and automatic deployment of LiveCycle ES onto the app servers.
  • Support of the latest app servers and databases.
I had a lot of experience installing LiveCycle: from Windows, to Linux, to AIX; from JBOSS, to WebSphere to Weblogic; and using the default MySQL, to SQL Server to Oracle. A little too much, to my liking. ES has came a long way in terms of installation and configuration from the old LiveCycle 6 days. There's a single installer (yah!), with a place to enter all your serials or suite serials without having to worried about product compatibility or order of installation within the platform. This is a huge improvement. There are some still hiccups with regards to deploying ES apps onto the application server, but I am sure these will be addressed in the production version.

Designer ES
  • [New feature] Form Guide, a flash based wizard constructed with the same PDF template (xdp and pdf).
  • [New Feature] Form Fragments, xdp concept that allows fragments to be reuse across different templates.
Form Guide is an excellent first step towards marrying Flex and LiveCycle. It provides an intuitive GUI to build a wizard from your pdf and xdp files, while keeping the data model consistent. This means that data inputted in the flex form guide can be used to populate the pdf form with zero effort. That being said, i have a few comments and feature requests to LiveCycle product team:

- Let me overwrite and update the generated MXML code. This will allow finer grained control over the user experience and look and feel of the UI.

- Guide preview currently generates the swf in a default location. Let me specify where to put this. Or better, place in a sub-folder from where the xdp/pdf template is.

- The preview in the guide builder doesn't open the PDF? It's pointing to a default PDF.

- I am quite excited about Form Fragments. In many of our large form projects, we could have used something exactly like this. Form fragments allows you to create, say a company header, or a mortgage calculator object and reuse across all forms. How is this different from a custom XFO? Well, when you insert an XFO, a static copy is inserted into your form. Any updates to the XFO will need to be updated in all form instances. This is not true for form fragments. Since XDP with form fragments contains a reference to the fragment, any updates to the fragment will be dynamically picked up by ALL form instances. This is a big win in terms of form maintainability.

LiveCycle ES Document Services
  • LiveCycle Forms ES can generate a form guide from the XDP template
  • Better and consistent Java API support across the board. Remote java calls now supported for Reader Extensions. We used to have to write a webservices wrapper for Reader Extensions.
  • Better and consistent SOAP API support across the board.

Workbench ES
  • Eclipse based development environment for building your form, and processes.
  • Re-skinned, and much improved workflow designer in terms of user experience.
  • Drag and drop support to add files into the repository for consumption by the processes.
Usability for Workflow designer is much better in ES. I also liked the fact that there's a consistent developer interface, for form developer, process developer, or application developer. Flex builder plug-in for eclipse should be available optionally, and plug-able into Workbench.

Process Management and Workflow
  • additional invocation methods to all services supported by default, including watch folder, email, java, soap, and remoting (flash remoting).
  • [New Feature] Workspace to replace LiveCycle Form Manager. Workspace is a Flex application that allows user to initiate and participate in processes.
This is actually really cool. Instead of being limited to using a PDF Form to trigger a process, ES supports additional invocation methods out of the box: watch folder, and email. What this means, is that processes can be triggered by copying a file into a watched folder, or an email to a specific address. This is true for all services that you create, or available out of the box.

There are alot of new and exciting features in LiveCycle ES that makes a lot of sense for developers who are currently on the 7.x platform, as well as new organizations that want to adopt LiveCycle into their business processes.


Zee said...

hey Dave, I just stumbled upon your blog. It's good to see I'm not the only active LC blogger out there. I work on the designer QA team, so feel free to drop me a line if you encounter any problems with designer. my email is zeeyang at adobe dot com.


David said...

Thanks Z for your comment and offer. I will take you up on your offer one day :)

Anthony said...

Hi Dave,

Re Form Guides...

1. You can customize ALL UI elements of a form guide by creating (or extending) your own guide and panel layouts in Flex Builder. You can then import these custom libraries using Guide Builder.

2. The preview SWFs are only temporary since form guides are meant to by dynamically generated on the server using Live Cycle Forms ES.

3. Having the guide Preview point to the actual PDF is a feature we are looking at for the future.


David said...

Thanks Anthony on info for form guides. I am assuming there will be a developer's guide for customizing form guide components in the doc center later on.

Arkanos said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Arkanos said...

hey Dave, I'm quite new to the LCES 8 and trying the installation on a windows 32 bit environment with Weblogic 81 sp6, somehow the configuration manager doesn't seem to recognise the installed app server. Any hints around this are most welcome.