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IBM To Acquire E-Forms Provider PureEdge Solutions

IBM will integrate the company's XML-based forms technology with its Workplace, WebSphere, and DB2 Content Manager software.

IBM on Tuesday said it has signed an agreement to acquire PureEdge Solutions Inc., a privately held developer of electronic forms based on XML standards. Financial terms of the deal weren't disclosed.

IBM will integrate the PureEdge forms into its Workplace, WebSphere, and DB2 Content Manager offerings this year, says Ken Bisconti, IBM's VP of workplace, portal, and collaboration products. PureEdge, an IBM business partner since 2002, provides electronic forms products aimed at banking, insurance, and government users.

PureEdge has long been a proponent of XML-based forms, including XForms, a developing industry standard for electronic documents. In 1998, PureEdge published XFDL, the first XML open standard for defining the presentation, content, and logic of complex business documents.

XForms enables Web browsers to check that key fields in a form are being filled in, whether a particular field is required, or that one date is later than another. It reduces the need for round trips to the server or for extensive script-based processes, and also improves the user experience by giving immediate feedback to what's being filled in.

XForms are also device-independent, enabling the same form to be delivered without modification to a traditional browser, PDA device, mobile phone, or voice browser.

Business processes utilizing PureEdge E-forms use a highly structured XML protocol as the native front-end format throughout the E-form life cycle. This XML protocol describes the complete template, business logic, and user-defined content. Additionally, it can contain supporting files, including graphics and attachments.

In explaining IBM's rationale behind the acquisition, Bisconti cites PureEdge's commitment to open standards, superior technology, and integration with existing IBM products.

The companies have previously collaborated on several projects. Earlier this year, PureEdge was awarded a contract to upgrade the U.S. Army's inventory of 100,000 forms, an effort that also includes IBM's DB2 Content Manager and WebSphere products. The Army will use PureEdge E-forms to power thousands of functional electronic processes in a variety of business applications, including medical, transportation, logistics, finance, legal, personnel, and communications.

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