2 Replies Latest reply on Nov 1, 2007 5:52 AM by (Chris_Hicks)

    Advice needed: data-driven document creation.

      Hi - we have the following requirement in our workflow. Can anyone confirm whether this is possible with the LiveCycle Output products, or suggest any other applications?

      We start with a data source (XML or direct from SQL). This data source contains:

      - A path to a 'proof' PDF
      - A path to a logo (*.AI / *.EPS / *.jpg / *.TIFF)
      - Structured text content
      - A path to a PDFS settings file
      - A filename and export location

      By specifying a template structure (either contained within the data source itself, or as a seperate template file), we need to generate and export a PDF which contains all the structured data, with the text, the 'proof' PDF and the logo files placed on the page in appropriate locations. The 'proof' PDF will then also be appended to the exported PDF as a second page.

      Some wishlist requirements:

      - the ability to flow structured text content 'inline' to existing text in the template.
      - automatic proportional sizing of the placed files in the document, to 'best fit' within the specified area.

      The solution we're looking for needs to be server-based and completely automated, with no GUI if it's stable enough. Multi-threading support and the ability to make use of multiple core CPUS would also be an advantage if more than one document could be processed at a time.

      We've previously considered Adobe InDesign Server, but we'd like to explore other options. Can anyone point me in the right direction?

      Thanks
        • 1. Re: Advice needed: data-driven document creation.
          Level 1
          First, my experience with the Output Server indicates it is not part of the "LiveCycle" series of products but that might have changed with the latest release that I've heard rumors about. (I say "rumored" because I've never received any announcement regarding it and we have the premium maintenance which includes free upgrades.) But that doesn't change things unless this rumored release has added capabilities.

          I'm sure you can accomplish what you need to but based on my knowledge and experience of the product you can not do it with your existing design.

          First, it appears that it is not possible to include an existing PDF file with the output of the server. There is currently someone on the help forums attempting to do that and the response has been that it isn't possible. I'm personally waiting on my vendor regarding how to include PDFs or similar files in the output - 3 weeks now and no response to their research.

          But, that aside, you could always have the PDF as a boilerplate file that gets printed along with the variable page. The data stream can specify what files to print so the source can specify which forms to print. That is how we do our form packages.

          The structured text (boilerplate) is built by a piece of external software. In my version it is "Output Designer"; it is my limited understanding that the rumored version may use "LiveCycle Designer". I've only looked at the LiveCycle product so I can only describe the capabilities of Output Designer. You can have logo fields defined that have the location hard coded. If you are needing a variable logo with the same text then you can use a "graphic field" and have the location/name of the file defined within the data stream.

          We only create simple PDFs so I don't know about the PDFS file. In fact, I don't even know what it is.

          We create our PDFs into a fixed location or return them directly to the requestor via IP# but I know it is possible but may require some custom programming. One part of our system creates PDFs with a file name using values from the data stream. To accomplish that we programmed a "custom agent" (VB program) to extract the data and build the file name; this gets placed into a variable that is referenced for the file name by the PDF creation step.

          We do all our forms in a fixed format, leaving an exact amount of space for each variable field. This does mean that there is usually extra white space left on the printed form. I don't know why we continue to do that for a lot of our forms because the software does have the capability (I've tested it) to merge the data with the boilerplate so there is no excess white space around the data.

          If by "automatically proportional sizing" you mean dynamically change the font size then I know of no way to do that. But if you are wanting to design a form that dynamically adjusts the position of the blocks of text so that they are next to each other even though the amount of variable text might change then I believe that is possible. We don't use dynamic forms but the design software (at least Output Designer) does have the capability.

          The server software (at least the version we use) is not exactly multi-thread but it can be installed on the server multiple times so that there are multiple input data folders that can simultaneously receive data and be processed as if the software were multi-thread.

          I know I didn't answer all your questions but I hope this information helped. One last thing - it isn't cheap.
          • 2. Re: Advice needed: data-driven document creation.
            Level 1
            I believe everything you need can be handled via LiveCycle. Using a combination of a data merge (LC ES Output), Orchestration and LC ES Assembler you should be able to get there.

            The data merge can place the logos and merge the text (Floating Field) and Assembler can join the pdf's together. Orchestration will allow you to control the process flow and invoke the workflow via EJB or WebService or Watched Folder.