SAP Interactive Forms by Adobe

Purpose

As of SAP NetWeaver ’04 (in SAP Web Application Server), you can use a new solution to create interactive forms and print forms for the optimization of your form-based business processes. This solution uses Portable Document Format (PDF) and software from Adobe Systems Inc. that has been integrated into the SAP environment.

You can create interactive forms in PDF format that allow users to fill out the form on the screen and save their entries in XML format in the form. When the SAP system receives the PDF form, it extracts the data saved in the form, and can process it further.

You can also merge a form template with current system data to generate a PDF document that can then be printed or sent by e-mail.

SAP Interactive Forms by Adobe offer you the following business advantages:

?      Interactive functions automate the creation of data for SAP systems

?      Full integration into the SAP development environments for Java and ABAP

?      User-friendly tools reduce the time and costs associated with creating form layouts.

?      The usage of the PDF format means that forms retain their appearance regardless of the environment they are used in.

In certain circumstances, you require a license for interactive forms. For more detailed information, read SAP Note 750784 on SAP Service Marketplace at service.sap.com/notes.

Implementation Considerations

SAP Interactive Forms by Adobe are particularly well suited to business processes in which employees enter data in a form-based solution and then want to transfer this data automatically to the SAP system. In the simplest cases, you only require the free Adobe Reader to display or fill out PDF forms on your front end.

Integration

SAP Interactive Forms by Adobe is included in SAP Web Application Server and can be used by any applications that are based on SAP NetWeaver ’04 or later.

The following Adobe software is included in the form solution:

?      Adobe LiveCycle Designer
A graphical tool for designing form layouts; it is integrated into SAP NetWeaver Developer Studio and ABAP Workbench.

?      Adobe Document Services
Web services used to generate the PDF forms at runtime; in interactive scenarios, they extract the XML data from the form and send it to the system.

Adobe Document Services run on SAP J2EE Engine. This means that you must install the Java Stack of SAP Web Application Server, regardless of the development language of your application (ABAP or Java).

Features

SAP Interactive Forms by Adobe offer the following basic functions:

?      Create form templates for the layout that include logos or pictures

?      Generate documents by merging form templates and current system data

?      Edit forms online or offline

?      Forms can be filled in advance automatically with specific data from SAP applications and then sent to the correct recipients using secure methods

?      Automatic consistency checks for forms

?      Activate enhanced functions such as comments

?      Digital signatures and form certification

?      Send completed forms to the SAP application with automatic updates of the business data

There are two basic types of forms:

Interactive Forms

For business processes that require close cooperation between employees, you can design interactive forms as a part of a Web Dynpro application.

You can use the following development environments:

?      Interactive Forms in Web Dynpro for Java in SAP NetWeaver Developer Studio

?      Interactive Forms in Web Dynpro for ABAP in ABAP Workbench

These forms can contain dropdown menus, pushbuttons, text fields, and other elements that enable users to enter data. The form is generated in PDF format, which, for example, can be displayed by the user in a browser. The user uses Adobe Reader or Adobe Acrobat to fill out the form and saves the changes made to the form in XML format. The SAP system extracts the data from the form and saves it to the database, where it can be processed further.

You can use these forms in two basic scenarios:

?      Online
The user is logged on to the SAP system when he or she fills out the form.

?      Offline
The user is not logged on to the SAP system when he or she fills out the form. Once the form has been filled out, the user sends it to the issuer of the form, for example by e-mail. The SAP system of the issuer then extracts the data from the form.

Forms for Printing, E-Mail, or Fax

You can use the Form Builder (integrated into ABAP Workbench) to create PDF-based print forms that you can then print or send by e-mail or fax. When you create these print forms, you can rely on the tried and trusted principle of separate data retrieval and form layout processes. This enables you to make changes to either one of the processes, without affecting the other.