I'm looking for a bit of advice on some direction that has been forced upon me through my enterprise licensing with LiveCycle and Adobe in general. Recently, the people who procure our software decided not to include LiveCycle in our Adobe package. This probably is due to the fact that Adobe separated LiveCycle from Adobe Pro and the standalone fee is too high.
Ok, so that being said, I started learning how to use LiveCycle a number of months ago and had a lot of success. We used it to build and edit PDF forms that are used by our clients to provide reports on work that they do. It is mandatory that they fill out these forms annually. We had a number of major changes to these forms that we were undertaking when the licensing got cancelled. So, now I am in a bit of a flux as I have unfinished forms and I need some direction on what to do next. I am being relied upon to seek out alternatives. My background in this area isn't strong. I've googled around the net looking for alternative solutions to Livecycle. I'm not finding anything. I do see a number of other software packages (there seems to be hundreds!) that do form building and I am having a hard time weeding through the options. So I thought I would ask for some advice.
So, the first thing I have been tasked to do is to find software that will allow me to edit these forms and make regular updates. I'm just not sure what other software out there will do some of the same things at a reasonable cost.
The second thing, and this part is only an idea at this time, is to move towards a web form. Something that can accomplish all the same validation and customization that I am doing with my standalone forms and can dump the information entered into the form, into a database on my servers here at the office (generally, when we receive our PDF forms, this data is entered into a database we have). I simply do not have any experience with online forms which is why I haven't moved in this direction yet.
Anyways, I'm interested in any advice. keep in mind my skill level here. Something overly complex may not work for me at this point as I need to find a solution sooner than later.
You have options, but there will be limitations.
We faced similar problems before, and the main problem was how to use the XFA/XDP designs in an alternative Designer.
You can find an alternative, but you have to live with the following limitations:
1. Re-design from scratch all the designed forms based on the newly chosen designer tool
2. Cannot use the designs for a Dynamic PDF and Data Entry.
3. Use the designs to render the output in static PDF only. Dynamic results are limited only by the new designer.
4. The usage limitations of the new designs will be determined by the alternate designer chosen.
For example, you can choose any report designer such as Jasper Soft/Reachlite or other... see link below for example:
Then you have to build the design in the new designer to be as close as possible to that done in XFA/XDP.
After that, you can integrate the result with your existing solution.
In our case, we calculated that option, and it was very expensive, and we spend a lot of money to find the alternative, and too much time spent and decided to migrate to AEM Forms.
Hope this helps...
Let's talk about some of the basics. First, LiveCycle is a whole suite of products. It can cost tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars. However, ONE app in the suite is LiveCycle Designer, which is priced as a desktop app - a few hundred dollars. Be sure to use the full name, especially in talking to your company (so they have the right price info!)
Second, there are two kinds of PDF form. One is "acroforms", the other, the kind you have been making are "XFA forms". Some call them Designer forms, but XFA is better. Acroforms can be made in Acrobat Pro, and in some other non-Adobe software. They are supported (more or less) by a lot of apps for filling. XFA forms are made ONLY with Designer. They can be edited ONLY with Designer. By and large, XFA forms can only be filled using Adobe apps on Mac and Windows.
So, if you lose LiveCycle Designer, you lose the ability to make XFA forms, and you lose the ability to edit your existing forms. You would need to start working with Acroforms, which need a different skillset (no XML in them; form fields are not dynamic). You would have to start again.
You mentioned that you are using Acrobat X - that version does have the 500 form limit. Acrobat DC no longer has that limitation in it's EULA. You can check for yourself (or have your lawyer check) by reviewing the Acrobat X EULA and compare it with the Acrobat DC version.
If you download ES4 this way it does NOT include Reader Extensions to enable your forms to save the data that people have typed in. You can use Acrobat Pro DC to enable the forms but the license with the product only allows 500 forms to be enabled. Otherwise, your company can purchase the Reader Extensions Server but that's like $13,000 or some such crazy number.
I have been talking to Adobe about this exact issue because I bought Acrobat Pro X just so that I could have the same version of the software at home that I was using at work. Once my office upgraded to ES4 I was 2 versions behind what they were using. I began asking about upgrading and if I had ES3, it would only be $199 to upgrade but since the upgrade is only good for one version below ES4, I would need to pay the $299. Ok, but then what about the Reader Extensions Server. I can't afford THAT!!!!
Are you talking about LiveCycle Designer or LiveCycle server? Designer once was bundled to Acrobat and became a standa-alone product when Acrobat XI was release. Anyway, the licence is still listed in Adobes store for around 300$, which is not much money for such a software.