Adobe is developing an updated Acrobat Reader to support online form completion on government Web sites, Adobe CEO Bruce Chizen announced yesterday.

He announced the news during his keynote speech at annual US government-related trade show, FOSE.

The update will let users enter information into forms and submit them online. It will accept typed or pasted user input to an online form. This is not supported in the current version of the application. This form can be linked to a database, so that it can respond to input intelligently, Chizen claimed.

This version can also perform and validate calculations in forms such as tax returns and other tasks, Chizen explained. Users can also attach notes on the forms. He did not announce a release date for the update, which is intended for the US government's use at first.

Expanding Acrobat's capabilities and its use online will play an important role in bringing more government transactions online, Chizen noted.

The news follows Adobe's acquisition of electronic-forms software and service provider Accelio earlier this year. This company had 7,000 customers worldwide in the financial services, banking, manufacturing, utilities and public-service sectors, including Microsoft, Citibank and American Express.

Acrobat and ePaper are Adobe's fastest growing businesses. The company expects the market for electronic forms to exceed $3 billion by 2003.

In February 2002, Adobe's VP Web publishing products, Bryan Lamkin told Macworld UK: “We're seeing a lot of movement towards using Acrobat as a collaboration tool.

“Particularly in publishing, but we are seeing it extend beyond that market as well. The key opportunity for Acrobat is looking at government and public services, as well as document sensitive markets.”