Posts tagged ‘LiveCycle’

During SoTR 2011 I presented on using XFA PDF forms (a.k.a. LiveCycle forms) with ColdFusion. Slides and materials are now available for download.

A after-conference addition is that Chandan Kumar from Adobe confirmed that the issue with overwritedata=”yes” in the cfpdf tag is resolved in ColdFusion so you don’t need to add it to all cfpdf populate operations anymore once the fix is released / installed.

One of the ways to translate LiveCycle Designer PDFs is using XLIFF. Since an XDP file is essentially an XML file the process is to run an XSLT transformation over the XDP to extract all the text strings. Not just the captions, but also all the tooltips, screenreader texts, image alt’s etc. Then you can send the generated document with strings to a translator, and some time later you get a translation back that you can merge into your template using a different XSLT transformation. The whole process is described pretty well in Using XLIFF for translating Adobe® LiveCycle® Designer ES form designs on Adobe DevNet.

While putting together a few extra exercises for the LiveCycle ES2 Designer Specialist training I stumbled over something weird in the XSLT templates from Adobe. While the tools for translating XLIFF files all presume the original string is in the source element and the translated string is in the target element, the Adobe XSLT templates presume the translated string is put back into the source element. So for an English to Dutch translation tools create:

<trans-unit id="09DD30F3-CE03-4FF1-92D3-067126FF904E" resname="09DD30F3-CE03-4FF1-92D3-067126FF904E">

But the XSLT templates Adobe distributes with LiveCycle Designer (look in the%programfiles%\Adobe\Adobe LiveCycle Workbench ES2\Adobe LiveCycle Designer ES2\FormTranslation\ folder) expect:

<trans-unit id="09DD30F3-CE03-4FF1-92D3-067126FF904E" resname="09DD30F3-CE03-4FF1-92D3-067126FF904E">

Luckily this is easy to fix (once you figure out what is going on) by changing the XSLT template for merging the translations back into the XDP file to select the target node instead of the source node at line 66 of mergestrings.xslt:

<xslt:variable name="translatedNode" select="$s2x[@id=$idToGet][1]/target" />

A version of mergestrings.xslt with this change is available for download.

I am currently in the UK for a LiveCycle training and when I looked out of my hotel window the view was very nice.

Winter view from Fleet (UK)

Winter view from Fleet (UK)

Then just before I was going for breakfast my boss called and asked whether I still was in the hotel. Then he told me to “Go make snow dolls”. Apparently the snow is a bit more then the people in the UK are used to and is causing major travel issues. The students are from all over the country (apparently some had to drive 4 hours under normal conditions), and due to the weather the first day of the training is canceled. So now I have my first snow day ever! (In the Netherlands we only have ice days to go ice-skating, when it has frozen enough and the ice is thick enough, but no snow days.)

UPDATE: training cancelled for the whole week based on the weather forecast, but no way to go home since all flights to Amsterdam have been cancelled at Heathrow.

I’m sure that if you have never worked with the LiveCycle training material you have no idea what that title is about. During the LiveCycle Building Applications (LCBA) training a mortgage workflow for the fictional company Fin@nceCorp is build step by step. It starts with a PDF form to submit a mortgage application, then through a workflow process with reviews by loan officers through PDF and Flex forms it ends with a rejection or acceptance letter. Along the way it introduces the key concepts of LiveCycle and when the course is complete the students should be able to build workflows in LiveCycle.

Last week I was in Lisbon to teach this course to a group of people who are about to use LiveCycle to build workflows for generating contracts in PDF. Monday and Tuesday I covered LiveCycle Developing Forms (LCDV) with a group of up to 13 people, both backend developers and forms developers. Luckily this is a somewhat normal schedule for this course, because having flown in straight from the MAX in San Francisco I was somewhat jet-lagged.

Then Wednesday and Thursday with just the backend developers we had the absolute madness of squeezing 4 days of training plus some custom content on LiveCycle installation and webservice invocation in two days. Luckily the client knew exactly what he wanted so we could skip several chapters and I just demonstrated several of the walkthroughs instead of everybody completing them, but I think this was still a little too much.

Then Friday we switched gears completely. First I wrapped up the webservices content and then in a brainstorm session we designed a process that matched a simplified version of their business case. We ended up with a master process with 7 subprocesses on the whiteboard. After some more discussion we had the in and out variables of each subprocess and I put everybody to work on a subprocess. As soon as people had defined their process with variables I wired them all together in the main process on the projector and then I helped people with issues with their individual subprocess.

I have rarely had so much fun in a training. I had to run around and was answering questions all day (I am very glad the Portugese take their time for their lunch), but it is fun to be challenged as a trainer.

What is more, I think that the students got more out of training this way then if we had followed just the regular schedule. Doing this group building process not only what is taught is really put in practice, but the additional aspects of application design, decoupling processes and API design become much clearer. It is a good thing I had some really smart people in the class because I would never have been able to write the XSLT they did in such a short time, but that just shows how even in such a short exercise skills can complement eachother.

So here is my recommendation: if you want to get the 4 day LCBA training for your team, make sure you get a trainer with field-experience with LiveCycle and tag on an extra day to design and build your first application together. It will prepare your team so much better.

With the MS SQL Server 2008 obstacle out of the way (I am back to MS SQL Server 2005) I am finally finishing the setup of my LiveCycle ES development environment. The applications I need are:

  • LiveCycle ES with PDF Generator native application support
  • LiveCycle Workbench with LiveCycle Designer
  • Acrobat Professional
  • FlexBuilder
  • the usual browser, AIR, FlashPlayer etc.

In order to get LiveCycle ES PDFG Native Application support to work I need to install Acrobat Pro before LiveCycle ES first. For the Workbench, I need to have FlashPlayer 9 (somehow it won’t work with FlashPlayer 10), but I can not have Acrobat Pro installed. With that, the installation order becomes:

  1. uninstall all FlashPlayer versions.
  2.  install Flash Player 9 ActiveX (from the LiveCycle ES download).
  3. install LiveCycle Workbench.
  4. install Acrobat Pro fom CS4. It will generate an error and tell you it didn’t install correctly. When you run the install log analysis tool, it will tell you that yes an error did occur, but it is an unknown error with no known resolution. Ignore it, just test that Acrobat Pro works.
  5. install LiveCycle ES with PDFG and native application support.
  6. install FlexBuilder.
  7. update your FlashPlayer to version 10.

That’s it. All dependencies are now satisfied and all applications now work. Except perhaps Acrobat Pro, I still don’t know what that error was about and it will probably crash horribly in the middle of the next LiveCycle training. And it only took me 6 tries to get there.

So I have a shiny new laptop (Lenovo Thinkpad T61p) that I have been configuring for the last 2 weeks now. I have installed all the office applications and most of my development tools. ColdFusion 8.0.1, Eclipse 3.4, FlexBuilder, CS4 and MS SQL Server Express 2008. verything worked reasonably well. Except that I had to update the JDBC drivers from Microsoft to version 2 CTP, and then I had to switch to the JDBC 4 drivers because the other driver is supposedly incompatible with an 1.6 JVM. (It worked just fine with the 1.x versions of the drivers.)

And that is where the trouble started, many queries suddenly gave datatype resolution errors in ColdFusion. After some testing it turned out that problem queries are typically similar to:

		, PT.pageText AS displayName
		pageText PT ON T.nameTextID = PT.pageTextID

In a subsequent QoQ there would be an error if the datatype of PT.pageText was an N-datatype. What fixes the problem is to change the datatype using an explicit cast:

		, CAST(PT.pageText AS VARCHAR) AS displayName
		pageText PT ON T.nameTextID = PT.pageTextID

Not something that I fancy changing in all queries, but since this version of the driver is still a technology preview not something that really bothers me either.

Next on the list of applications to install was LiveCycle ES. Installation was a bit troublesome, the installer doesn’t recognize Flash 10, the LC Designer from LC ES is incompatible with the LC Designer from CS4 and the configuration instructions haven’t been updated for CS4 yet, but in the end I got it all installed. But not running. LC Designer crashed consistently within 3 seconds of being started. After lots of digging and searching I finally stumbled upon an explanation of the problem.

SQL Server installs a newer version of the MFC DLL on top of the one we install, and the new version has a critical bug.

Other people have reported there are lots of other applications that suddenly start crashing as soon as MS SQL Server 2008 is installed. Or maybe it is not really MS SQL Server 2008 but on of the dependencies, like the .NET Framework 3.5. I don’t know, I don’t care, I think MS SQL Server 2008 has wasted enough of my time and I have uninstalled it completely.