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Monday, June 1, 2009

Why you need LiveCycle Reader Extensions

In my role as an Adobe LiveCycle Instructor, I often get asked by customers why they need to purchase Adobe Livecycle Reader Extensions (for 10k per form) when they can reader-enable a Livecycle form through Adobe Acrobat Professional for (almost) free.

To give you some background, reader enabling a form allows someone using Adobe Acrobat Reader to perform the following functions on a PDF form:

  • Digital Sign the document
  • Save the form (and data) locally, so they don't have to complete the form in one sitting
  • Interactively access web services
  • Post the PDF back to a server (note that http submission of XML data does NOT require reader extensions). This is required if you plan to support digital signing.
  • Use the comment & markup tools
  • Add file attachments to a PDF
If you are distributing the form to an audience that already has Acrobat Std/Pro/Pro Extended, then the form does not need to be reader extended.

From a technical standpoint, there's not much difference between a form extended through the Reader Extensions Server versus Reader Extending through Acrobat. The BIG difference appears to be in the end-user license agreement. From what I can tell, forms that are extended via Acrobat Professional are restricted to 500 or fewer uses - essentially you are restricted from distributing the form to more than 500 people. Forms that are reader extended through Adobe Reader Extensions ES (the server product) are not restricted to the number of people that can fill it out, however, the price point is much, much higher -- as much as 10K per form. 

So, to reiterate, Acrobat Pro limits the number of submissions per form, LiveCycle ES Reader Extensions does not, but instead restricts the number of forms that can be extended.

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