Adobe is working on having PDF embrace XML (Extensible Markup Language) to provide ties to enterprise systems.

The company is working on a new version of Form Designer, its product that allows companies to include XML schemas when creating forms. These forms can be distributed in PDF or XDP (XML Data Package) format. Once filled in, they can be processed as a PDF or as XML, Adobe says.

XDP files are XML files that contain XML form data, XML form templates, PDF documents, and other XML information. They work with enterprise applications using common XML tools and Web services, according to Adobe. Form Designer is currently a WIndows-only product.

"Enterprise systems are already speaking XML so we are delivering XML technology customers have asked for," said Charles Myers, product manager in Adobe's ePaper Solutions Group.

For example, a bank can make a loan application form available online. A customer fills it in offline using the free Acrobat Reader software from Adobe, and then submits it to the bank. Because the data is submitted as XML, it can go directly into a loan processing system that supports XML, Adobe said.

Form Designer is a product Adobe acquired when it bought Canadian electronic-forms software and service provider Accelio in April last year. The new version of the software is scheduled to be available in early 2004, with a beta test phase planned for the fourth quarter of this year, Adobe said.

Pricing for the new Form Designer has yet to be determined.