Adobe Livecycle and ActiveWizard Comparison

Similar to our Open Source efforts, most of our ideas for posts come from clients. For this post, we will address a question from a client evaluating Adobe LiveCycle ES2 and TSG’s Active Wizard as part of a forms effort.

“In a nutshell, what are the differences between Adobe LiveCycle and Active Wizard?”

This is a difficult question for a few reasons:

  • As an Adobe partner, we do a significant amount of LiveCycle work and think the product is great but…
  • Active Wizard is one of our most successful open source products

As an integrator, we see a ton of form efforts tied to our ECM practice including Adobe, Microsoft, Documentum and a variety of others.

This post will try to present an unbiased discussion of different relevant points for comparing Adobe LiveCycle and Active Wizard.

  • Commercial Software versus Open Source – The most obvious difference is that Adobe LiveCycle is released and priced as commercial software and Active Wizard is free for download as open source. Client comfort with open source software is always a consideration while the points below will address support, pricing and other considerations for commercial versus open source distribution models.
  • Consumer Interface – The flex “wizard” interface of Adobe is very consistent with the flex interface of AW Lite. We would have to call this a tie. Active Wizard also provides an HTML interface and is planned to release a HTML5 interface in the future. Due to the flexibility of the two interfaces, we would have to give the nod to the Active Wizard. For an additional demonstration, visit the Learning Zone.
  • PDF Integration – While the Active Wizard provides PDF Output and Ingestion capabilities, it is not as comprehensive as Adobe. We have always been impressed and recommend LiveCycle components for PDF and image manipulation and leverage it as an option in our OpenAnnotate tool.  Nod goes to Adobe for this capability over the ActiveWizard.
  • Administrator Interface – The ActiveWizard interface is pretty XML centric and is not as simple as AdobeLive Cycle that provides more of a GUI and WYSIWYG approach. For this one we would have to give the nod to Adobe.
  • Development – Both tools are Java based. By being open source, Active Wizard provides ability to get underneath the code if necessary. This one is probably a draw.
  • Pricing – Easy advantage for Active Wizard as Adobe is priced as enterprise software. Depending on the modules purchased, a 6 figure price is not unusual. Nod goes to Active Wizard.
  • Support – Support for the Adobe is available through a normal maintenance and support agreement. Active Wizard support is only available from TSG as a time and materials engagement.  Amount spent and level of support would be difficult to judge so we would call this one a tie.
  • Documentum Connectivity– Adobe has a Documentum connector (in addition to IBM’s FileNet and Content Manager), for an additional licensing fee, which allows for Livecycle to retrieve content and properties from Documentum. The LiveCycle connector also allows you to store your forms and assets directly into Documentum. Out of the box Active Wizard was developed and certified for Documentum including:
    • Complex Documentum workflows
    • Form templates and excuted forms stored in Documentum
    • connectivity from Webtop and other Documentum tools

    For clients that have Documentum and want to leverage their existing infrastructure without additional licensing – nod goes to Active Wizard

  • Alfresco – Adobe LiveCycle has a Content Services module for purchase that provides LiveCycle with enterprise library services and content storage leveraging an embedded Alfresco content repository. For our existing Documentum clients, Active Wizard integrates seamlessly with Documentum or the file system. TSG is currently developing our Alfresco web services which will allow Active Wizard to speak directly with Alfresco and not require additional licensing. While the nod goes to LiveCycle for the existing Alfresco connectivity – potential users should investigate their existing license agreements with both Adobe and Alfresco to ensure they are not required to purchase a product they already own.
  • Workflow – Both Active Wizard and LiveCycle provide the ability to create complex workflows. Active Wizard utilizes standard out of the box Documentum Workflow and LiveCycle has a module called Process Management (under the covers Adobe uses JBPM). What gives Active Wizard the advantage in this scenario is the ability to create dynamic workflows without requiring a workflow template – something both LiveCycle Process Management and standard Documentum require.

Overall – both are great applications and for different users, we can clearly see different benefits from each approach. If you have any thoughts, or items we missed, please add a comment below.

4 thoughts on “Adobe Livecycle and ActiveWizard Comparison

  1. Hi, Would the Active Wizard Adobe Forms Connector work with Adobe forms created with Adobe Acrobat? OR do we require the Livecycle designer to create the PDF form?

    Also, is do the PDF forms have to be reader extended or just plain PDF forms?

    Is the Adobe Forms connector available with ActiveWizard lite?


    • Paras, The Active Wizard’s Adobe Forms Connector currently works only with AcroForms created in Adobe Acrobat. XFA forms created by designer currently are not supported. We could certainly update the connector to support XFA forms, but we haven’t yet had a client request it.

      We use iText on the server side to fill out the form and stream it back to the user, so Reader should be fine on the client side.

      Yes, the Adobe forms connector is supported in Active Wizard lite. Basically, you can attach an adobe form to a checklist item. The Active Wizard Lite demo in the TSG Learning Zone shows an example (at about the 3:45 mark).

      • Thanks George,

        How is the mapping for the data from the web-based to the PDF form defined?

      • No problem! The mapping is defined in the Active Wizard administration screens. You need to upload a sample blank form, and then you can map fields on your AW form to fields in the AcroForm.

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