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Adobe's Form Manager 6.0
I tested Form Manager 6.0 along with several of Adobe's recently released enterprise form-management and -processing products in our NWC Inc. business applications lab in Green Bay, Wis. (For more about NWC Inc., our 24/7 business applications lab, go to inc.networkcomputing.com.) Designed to support up to 100 users on one server, Form Manager offers compelling features on its own, but its power is fully realized only when it's working with Adobe's other products. Form Manager, together with Adobe's Reader Extension Server 6.1, Document Security Server 6.0 and Form Server 6.0, provides a kick-ass solution for automating form management.
Adobe's products require an IBM WebSphere or JBoss application server, as well as a corporate directory and a relational database (IBM DB2, Oracle or MySQL) for Form Manager's standards-based ebXML repository. I installed the product suite on a Windows 2003 Server (Red Hat Linux AS 2.1 is also supported) running WebSphere 5.0 and MySQL 4.0. Adobe said support for BEA Systems' WebLogic server and Microsoft's SQL Server will be available in future releases.
The installation was not simple--the products required intensive configuration before they were up and running. For example, before I could even install the Adobe products, I had to reconfigure WebSphere to communicate with MySQL and Active Directory Services using JDBC and LDAP. Then, before the EAR (enterprise archive) and WAR (Web archive) files could be deployed to the application server, I had to tweak each product manually. This was made somewhat less difficult by the inclusion of a GUI-based configuration tool.
Although getting the products to work with my existing infrastructure was tedious, the integration between Form Manager and the other Adobe products was seamless, requiring only that Form Manager be told during the preinstallation configuration that the other Adobe products were also online.
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