Designer was born out of two different programs, Form Designer 4 and Output Designer 5, after Adobe acquired their creator Accelio in 2002. When Adobe decided to create the LiveCycle initiative, it merged these two programs into one: Adobe LiveCycle Designer 6.
In Designer's current incarnation, Adobe has included some welcomed additions. First is its integration with Acrobat 7. Because of its origins outside Adobe, earlier versions of Designer generated forms in proprietary formats that were still supported until version 6. In the current version Designer has gone "full PDF," and forms created with it are compatible with Acrobat 7. If you choose Acrobat's Advanced, Forms, Create New Form menu option, Designer is launched. In Designer, clicking on the PDF Preview tab (more about it later in this chapter) displays some basic Acrobat tools and Acrobat's Navigation Tabs pane (see Figure 46.2).
Figure 46.2. Better integration with Acrobat is just one of Designer's improvements.
Linking interactive images is also a new feature in Designer. You could have, for example, a webcam feed updated photos of your office environment to a web server and have the photo linked in a form. Anyone reading or filling out the form could see the updated photos as long as they're connected to the Internet.
Perhaps the most impressive addition to Designer's arsenal is its capability of generating a paper form's barcode. If a user doesn't have access to the Internet they can fill in the form using the Acrobat Reader and print it. The form prints with a barcode containing the data entered. The user can then fax or mail you the form and you can extract the data using a barcode reader with no need to retype it all.