Adobe will tomorrow launch its new Java-based server platform designed to automate and improve the use of PDF documents in a company.

At the same time, Adobe will also introduce several new and updated products to take advantage of the new technology. All are part of Adobe's Intelligent Document Platform - a plan to make PDF with XML additions a common way to get data in and out of enterprise systems.

Organisations will be able to automatically process data sent in PDF forms, so data needn't be re-entered. Such data can then be displayed in a PDF file. The platform will pitch Adobe against Microsoft's XML plans for Office and InfoPath.

"We have a single way to connect to all the different data sources in an enterprise," said Sydney Sloan, a group product marketing manager at Adobe. End users already interact with many back-end systems through forms and documents, Sloan said.

Adobe's earlier server offerings were stand-alone products obtained through acquisitions that were not designed to interoperate. The company has now redesigned the products to fit on a new J2EE and XML-based architecture. As a result, Adobe's new products fit better into a broader IT infrastructure, Sloan said.

Using Java APIs and Web services protocols, the new products can be tied to CRM and ERP systems, for example. Adobe is also tuning its software to work with products from SAP and IBM.

Electronic forms are a burgeoning market and Adobe has seen significant growth in the area in the past year, said IDC research director Joshua Duhl. Moving to a single, Java-based platform will help it further expand its business, he said. "This is another step in Adobe's progress towards selling more server-side enterprise software. By offering their products on a standards-based architecture, running on application servers in Java they are making their products conform to what is now standard infrastructure for enterprise software," he said.

Adobe is targeting its products at large businesses as well as the public sector. The US government uses PDF forms heavily within the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and for immigration-related functions.

New or recently announced products scheduled to be available on Tuesday are Document Security Server, Barcoded Paper Forms Solution and Designer 6.0. Adobe also plans to release updates of its Form Server and Reader Extensions Server. Scheduled to ship later this year are Form Manager and Policy Server.

Document Security Server and Policy Server are products that allow organizations to control access to information, create audit trails of usage records and certify document authenticity with digital signatures. This is to help companies to comply with privacy disclosure and reporting legislation, Adobe said.

Pricing for Form Server, for deploying dynamic forms, Form Manager, used to publish and manage forms, and Reader Extensions Server, which can unlock hidden features in the Adobe Acrobat reader, starts at $35,000 per processor, Adobe said. Document Security Server starts at $50,000 per processor and Policy Server pricing has yet to be set, the vendor said.