Nov 15 2006

Last night I was in the delivery room

Not what you think!

It was a virtual delivery room. For the last few months my colleagues in San Jose, San Francisco and I have been working on a new web hosted service called “Adobe Document Center”. Yesterday evening we threw all the big switches and brought the service online for the general public. You can find the press release for the new service here. And that link will also describe the service’s functionality and purpose.

In general the “Adobe Document Center” is the control panel for documents that have been protected via the Adobe LiveCycle Policy Server. One can protect documents from within Acrobat, Microsoft Word, Microsoft Excel and even via an extension from within Microsoft Outlook when sending a new email message. Each document has a policy associated with it which defines what recipients can or cannot do with it.

An example: say you have a contract with some confidential information in it and you need to send it to your business partners in electronic format. You want to make sure that the document can only be opened by a handful of people. You also want to make sure that the document “expires” after a time limit you define. To make sure there are no printed copies being shared, you also want to disallow printing of the document. Using these parameters, you can craft a policy that defines all those restrictions. From inside Acrobat (or Microsoft Word), you would apply the new policy and send the resulting document to your business partners.

Once the document is in circulation you use the Adobe Document Center to track the file and/or make modifications to the policy associated with the document. If you discover the minute you sent out the document that you forgot something, you can also revoke access to the document at any time, which means that recipients won’t be able to open the document any longer.

Here are some screenshots to give you an idea:

The main screen displays all your Policy Server protected documents on the left. The right hand side contains a pod for your recipients and the built-in and user-created policies:

The main Adobe Document Center screen

The main Adobe Document Center screen

The document details screen shows information regarding the current document:

Document details screen

Document details screen

The policy details screen explains all the details about the policy used for this document:

Document details screen

Document details screen

If you have tracking enabled, you can get a histogram with all the different events associated with your document (how often was the document opened, how often did somebody print the document, etc.):

Document usage statistics

Document usage statistics

And the same tracking information in table format with more details for each event:

Document audit history

Document audit history

If the above does not look like a traditional web application to you, it is probably because it has been written entirely in Adobe Flex 2. So when you hit the Document Center the first time, you download a Flash file that implements the whole user interface. Behind the scenes we are using Flex Data Services to connect to our java-based server via Remote Objects. Works like a charm!

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