Thursday, July 06, 2006

Adobe LiveCycle Assembler - what is it?

Adobe LiveCycle Assembler is a cool new technology for those of you working with aggregating data from multiple sources to bind into a PDF document as output. It embraces a simple pattern of Whole-part using a template model to declare the construction of a final PDF document. This is done using an XML template called a "Document Description XML (DDX)" that defines the single output file and the content and data used to create it.

LiveCycle Assembler is a server based solutions that uses the DDX templates and the specified source documents, manipulates the data in the source documents according to the specifications of the DDX, and places the resulting documents in the specified output location.

Why I like this?

Simple - it is starting the road to declarative PDF expressed in XML and DDX document sare relatively easy to
author. The namespace of the DDX language is, and the root element is
DocText. A simple example of
how the root might look?

The DDX format allows for rich declarative expressions for all elements of a PDF document, ranging from Metadata to control over text of artwork. The data model for the XML is well thought out. Describing simple items like bookmarks is easy and you can also express actions:

Most documents formats appear to be moving towards a full XML expression with some form of packaging. Open Document Format (ODF), the OASIS open standard for XML declared documents, spreadsheets and presentations, uses XML as the standard for syntax. Norm Walsh was a pioneer in using DocBook which used stylesheets to display XML and even the next version of Microsoft Office is purported to be in XML format. In general, it seems to be a relatively popular activity nowadays.