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XFA (also known as XFA forms) stands for XML Forms Architecture, a family of XML specifications that was suggested and developed by JetForm to enhance the processing of web forms.

XFA's main extension to XML are computationally active tags. In addition, all instances created from a given XFA form template keep the specification of data capture, rendering, and manipulation rules from the original. Another major advantage of XFA is that its data format allows compatibility with other systems, and with changes to other technology, applications and technology standards.

According to JetForm's submission to the World Wide Web Consortium, "XFA addresses the needs of organizations to securely capture, present, move, process, output and print information associated with electronic forms."[1] The XFA proposal was submitted to the W3C in May 1999.

In 2002, the JetForm Corporation was acquired by Adobe Systems, and the latter introduced XFA forms with PDF 1.5 and the subsequent Acrobat releases (6 and 7) in 2003.[2]

XFA forms are saved internally in PDF files or as .XDP files which can be opened in Adobe's LiveCycle Designer software.

XFA forms are synonymous with SmartForms in the Australian government.


  1. W3C Submission (accessed August 14, 2006)
  2. A Quick Introduction to Acrobat Forms Technology (PDF format)

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