LiveCycle ES in the Lab

By Jason Brooks  |  Posted 2010-03-11 Print this article Print


LiveCycle ES in the Lab

I kicked off my tests of LCES by logging into the Web interface for Adobe's LiveCycle Express service and opting to start a new instance. With that, Adobe's controller infrastructure fired off a request to Amazon to mint me an EC2 instance hosting the LiveCycle stack. On subsequent visits to this console, I could opt instead to restore a backup of an instance I'd previously shut down. Since the EC2 instances sometimes took quite a while to launch, I would have liked to have received an e-mail or other notification once my instance was up and ready to use.

Once my instance was up, I launched Adobe's handy little networking application, which linked me to my remote image, and established port forwarding for Web and Terminal Services on my remote machine. This made it easy for me to access my server through remote desktop, and through my local browser, without requiring that I keep track of the network information that changes between separate EC2 sessions.

Through my remote desktop session, I fired up Adobe's LiveCycle Workbench ES2, with which I could create the forms and processes that would comprise my applications. Adobe's Workbench is based on the open-source Eclipse IDE, which ensured a certain amount of familiarity from the first time I opened the application. The other attribute I've come to expect from Eclipse-based tools is cross-platform friendliness, but a dependency on Windows in the form-building portion of the Workbench meant forgoing that friendliness.

In both the process- and form-building portions of the Workbench, I was able to drag and drop my way through much of the app-creation process. Each object had its own set of properties to specify, which I did through the context-sensitive properties panes common to most graphical IDEs.

The LiveCycle Workbench supports check-in/check-out of all project assets, which, along with controls for determining which users have access to particular projects, would have helped me work on my project with other team members. In addition to storing projects on a particular LCES server, I could export my project to a LiveCycle archive file. This came in handy as I moved between different hosted instances of the product during the course of my testing.

In order to test my application, I had to open up the product's Web-based admin console, either from the browser on my remote instance or, with the aid of the LCE Networking app, from the browser on my local system, and set the appropriate security rules for the application-for instance, whether the application could be accessed by an unauthenticated user.

I accessed my test application through a separate Web-based LiveCycle console, called the Workspace, at which I logged in using a set of test user credentials (I could create other users and roles through the admin console), and kicked off the loan application process I'd created in the Workbench tool. As part of the process, my LCES installation spawned a PDF-based loan application, which I filled out through a browser-embedded instance of Adobe Reader.

Later, when I logged on to the same Workspace as a separate user tasked with a bank manager role, I found a loan approval task waiting for me, which I could carry out right away, claim for later completion or forward to another manager in the system.

One of the most interesting things about LiveCycle is the way that the services and client interfaces that comprise it can be mixed and matched. For instance, the same service that produced the PDF forms for my test application was available, through an Adobe Air application called Launchpad, for converting office productivity documents to PDFs right from my desktop.

As Editor in Chief of eWEEK Labs, Jason Brooks manages the Labs team and is responsible for eWEEK's print edition. Brooks joined eWEEK in 1999, and has covered wireless networking, office productivity suites, mobile devices, Windows, virtualization, and desktops and notebooks. JasonÔÇÖs coverage is currently focused on Linux and Unix operating systems, open-source software and licensing, cloud computing and Software as a Service. Follow Jason on Twitter at jasonbrooks, or reach him by email at

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