Adobe, Cardiff join forces on forms project

ATLANTA—Cardiff Software Inc., which makes data capture software, and Adobe Systems Inc., which makes electronic publishing software, announced last week that they will offer a solution for processing data from forms created in Adobe's popular Portable Document Format.

Adobe Acrobat makes it possible to create digital versions of paper documents, such as forms, without losing the original format and design. By combining the document publishing capabilities of Adobe Acrobat with a revamped version of Cardiff's Teleform document and data capture software, the vendors plan to support electronic and paper-based forms, officials at the two companies said.

The product, PDF+Forms, "gives Adobe the opportunity to replace JetForm [Corp.] solutions" in the federal government, said Robert Weideman, vice president of marketing with Cardiff.

Agencies, partly spurred by a new federal law that mandates they do business electronically, are migrating from collecting and scanning paper forms to collecting information online.

"You're bridging paper and electronic," said Mark Royle, senior marketing manager for document solutions with Adobe. Royle said his company is working on similar solutions with other data capture vendors, including Caere Corp. and Captiva Software Corp.

Cardiff and Adobe made the announcement here last week at the Association for Information and Image Management (AIIM) trade show. Also at the show, Adobe announced it had shipped Version 4.0 of Acrobat, which offers users the capability to digitally sign online documents.

Steve Weissman, president of Kinetic Information, a market research firm, said the Adobe/Cardiff deal adds, for the first time, the ability for customers to validate the data they collect from PDF-based forms, define data fields and match entries on forms to their databases.

Weissman said, "Because PDF is one of the more popular Web formats, and forms on the Web have grown in popularity," Adobe and Cardiff potentially could challenge JetForm, whose FormFlow software is the best-selling electronic forms package in the federal market.

Federal agencies, including the Internal Revenue Service and the Food and Drug Administration, use Acrobat to publish forms online because PDF documents can be distributed through any World Wide Web browser. Most users print them, however, before filling them out, and then users send back the paper copies.

Weideman said the idea for PDF+Forms came out of a chance meeting between Adobe and Cardiff representatives at Pfizer Inc., where each firm was trying to help the pharmaceutical company automate the submission of its drug trial data to the FDA.

PDF+Forms relies on a new version of Cardiff's Teleform data and document capture software, which supports information collected in any industry-standard format, including Hypertext Markup Language.Other vendors also offer some integration with Adobe. At AIIM '99, Captiva introduced an upgraded version of its FormWare forms processing software, which integrates Adobe's Capture product for generating PDF or HTML documents.

Meanwhile, Open Text Corp. enables users of its LiveLink document management and workflow software to collect data from PDF forms online and route it through an automated approval process.

PDF+Forms is scheduled to ship in July and will be available from Adobe and Cardiff. The product will be packaged with the latest version of Acrobat.

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