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Making the most of PDF forms



Vikrant Rai and Samartha Vashishtha delivered this presentation at the 2010 STC India Conference, New Delhi. ...

Vikrant Rai and Samartha Vashishtha delivered this presentation at the 2010 STC India Conference, New Delhi.

This presentation discusses how you can easily create PDF forms using Acrobat and/or LiveCycle Designer, the native PDF form creation application available with Adobe Acrobat Professional.



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  • The file format created by Adobe Systems in 1993 is used for representing two-dimensional documents in a manner independent of the application software, hardware, and operating system. Each PDF file encapsulates a complete description of a fixed-layout 2D document that includes the text, fonts, images, and 2D vector graphics which compose the documents. 3D drawings can also be embedded in PDF documents.
  • Image Courtesy: http://acrobatusers.com/tutorials/adobe-designer-or-acrobat-forms
  • Form Courtesy: http://office.microsoft.com/en-us/templates/manager-feedback-form-TC001091632.aspxCreate a sample Word document form.Convert the word doc to PDF.

Making the most of PDF forms Making the most of PDF forms Presentation Transcript

  • Making the most of PDF Forms
    Samartha VashishthaVikrant Rai
  • Workshop Outline
    Some real-world applications
    Creating the form
    Distributing the form
    Managing responses
    Using scripting for conditional fields
    Analysis and reporting possibilities
    Further reading
  • Getting Started
    Acrobat 7 Pro or later
    LiveCycle Designer
  • Introduction
    Portable Document Format (PDF) is an open standard for document exchange.
    PDF is the ISO standard 32000-1
    Forms were introduced in the PDF 1.2 format. PDF Forms permit using objects (text boxes, radio buttons, etc.) and some code (JavaScript/FormCalc).
    Alongside the standard PDF action types, Interactive forms support submitting, resetting, and importing data.
  • Real World Applications
    Customer satisfaction surveys
    Help desk requests
    Feedback on products or services
    Purchase orders
    Request for Quotes
    Status reports
    Editorial checklists
    Handoff checklists
    Performance appraisals
  • Advantages of using PDF Forms
    Easily create electronic forms all by yourself — no need for assistance from IT or a designer
    Make your electronic forms look just like existing paper forms
    Make static forms interactive by adding text fields, check boxes, and drop-down menus
    Create customized experiences with interactive forms that change based on user input
    Allow virtually anyone to fill in and save PDF forms using free Adobe Reader® software
    Track the status of forms to find out who completed them
    Export data to spreadsheets and XML for analysis and reporting
  • Two ways to create forms
  • Workflow
  • Use Acrobat Forms Editor
    Convert the form to PDF
    Scan and OCR a paper form as PDF
    Convert a document to PDF
    Form in native application
    In Acrobat, choose Forms > Start Forms Wizard.
    Choose An Existing Electronic Document and click Next.
    Browse to the file and click OK.
    Acrobat creates a form.
    Tweak the form and fix issues.
  • Setting Field Properties
  • Field types
    Barcodes Encode the input from selected fields and display it as a visual pattern that can be interpreted by decoding software or hardware (available separately).
    Buttons Initiate a change on the user’s computer, such as opening a file, playing a sound, or submitting data to a web server. These buttons can be customized with images, text, and visual changes
    Check boxes Present yes-or-no choices for individual items.
    Combo boxes Let the user either choose an item from a pop-up menu or type a value.
    Digital signature field Lets the user electronically sign a PDF document with a digital signature.
    List boxes Display a list of options the user can
    Radio buttons Present a group of choices from which the user can select only one item. All radio buttons with the same name work together as a group.
    Text fields Let the user type text, such as name, address, or phone number.
  • Create a form using LiveCycle Designer ES
    In Acrobat 9, select Form > Form Wizard.
    Select No Existing Form in the Create Or Edit Form dialog box.
    Click Next. Acrobat launches LiveCycle Designer in a separate window.
    In the New Form Assistant, select one of the following options:
    Select Use A Blank Form if you want to create a form from scratch.
    If you want to customize an available form template according to your requirements, select Based On A Template.
    Click Next.
  • Using LiveCycle Designer
    Finish the New Form Assistant wizard by specifying the additional information requested. If you chose to model your form after a template, you’ll be asked to pick one of the many available templates. If you chose to create your form from scratch, specify page settings and the basic buttons that you’d want to add to it.
    Once you’ve completed the New Form Assistant wizard, you can use intuitive, easy-to-use building blocks – such as text fields, numeric fields, text areas, drop-down lists, list boxes, and radio buttons – to design your form further.
    You can also tweak the look and feel of the form on the master page.
  • Understanding form design
  • Key considerations
    Include instructions for completing and submitting the form.
    Include tool-tips for fields.
    Assign a unique, easy-to-remember Name to each field on the Object > Binding page.
    To make a field mandatory for users to fill-in, select User Entered - Required for the field from the Type drop-down menu on the Object - Value page.
    You can specify available options for drop-down lists and list boxes on the Object - Field page.
    Radio buttons are added to the form in mutually-exclusive groups to provide “one out of many” choices to the user.
    When you add two radio buttons to the form consecutively, they are automatically added to the same radio group.
  • Preview the form
    While you are designing a form, you can quickly preview the results in the Preview tab.
  • Ensure compatibility with older versions of Adobe Reader
    In LiveCycle Designer, click File > Form Properties > Defaults.
    Choose Acrobat And Adobe Reader 7.0.5 or later from the Choose Version To Run Form In drop-down menu.
    Click OK.
  • Tea Break
  • Advanced: Use scripts for Conditional Fields
    Thoughtful use of scripting goes a long way when you’re creating PDF forms. While LiveCycle Designer offers extensive scripting capabilities for power users, even users new to programming can leverage simple JavaScript and FormCalc constructs to build intelligence into their forms.
    In particular, we find the ability to create conditional fields – fields that accept input or become mandatory fields based on the selection in a radio button group – very useful.
  • Different methods of distribution
    Automatically with Acrobat.com
    Automatically with an Internal Server – a network folder or a Sharepoint workspace
    Manually using Email
  • Distributing the form
    Copy the PDF form file to a dedicated folder. This folder should be retained all through until the registration drive for the conference is complete.
    Use Adobe Acrobat to open the PDF form from the folder.
    In Acrobat, click Forms > Distribute Form.
    Choose Manually Collect Responses In My Email Inbox from the How Do You Want To Collect Responses drop-down menu. Click Next.
    Choose Save A Local Copy And Manually Send It Later and click Next.
    Click Finish on the Distribute Forms screen. You’ll now have the following additional PDF files in the folder where you copied the PDF file:
    [form name]_distributed.pdf
    [form name]_responses.pdf
    These two files, together with the PDF form file, should be retained all through the registration drive. Responses that you receive will be added to the [form name] _responses.pdf file and will also be visible through the Adobe Tracker.
    Upload the [form name]_distributed.pdf file to the conference website, so that it is available to users for download and submission.
  • Adobe Tracker
  • Adding responses
    Double-click the attachment from the email and wait for Adobe Acrobat to open it.
    In the Add Completed Form to Responses File dialog box, ensure that the correct [form_name]_responses.pdf file is selected and click OK. Acrobat will add the response and open Adobe Tracker to display all responses received so far.
  • Managing & archiving responses
    Whenever required, you can use the Archive in the Adobe Tracker to create a consolidated archive PDF ([form name]_archive.pdf) containing all received responses. You can also use the Export option in the Adobe Tracker to export the responses in one of the following formats:
    A CSV spreadsheet that can be edited using spreadsheet applications
    An XML file that can be manipulated further.
  • Adobe Community Help
    Acrobat Help:http://www.adobe.com/support/acrobat/
    Make your documentation better!
    See this blog post to know how!
  • About the presenters
    The Doc Fox: blogs.adobe.com/samartha
    Vikrant Rai
    Caveat Lector: blogs.adobe.com/vikrant