Acrobat 8 Forms

December 27th, 2006 |
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Acrobat 8 Professional has new forms capabilities. Forms may not be new, but they are now much easier to deal with. The feature lets the Acrobat do the work of finding common fields and formatting them to save the user time. In this demo from Adobe, take a walk through the new tool and see how simple creating form fields in pdfs can be.


Host: Terry White – Adobe Systems Incorporated

Terry White – Adobe Systems Incorporated

Hello and welcome to another episode of the Adobe Creative Suite Podcast. In this episode, we are going to take a look at one of the new features inside of Acrobat8 Professional and that is the new Forms capabilities. Now Forms is not new to Acrobat. We’ve been doing Forms now, I believe since Acrobat4 if not 3 and in this version of Acrobat, though it just got a whole lot easier and it got a whole lot more flexible for distributing your forms to people that don’t have the full Acrobat.

I have an old form here that I dug up, that I created a while back inside of InDesign and I just exported it out as a PDF. Now here inside of Acrobat though, this is just a static page, I can’t really click in this form to type. I mean the lines are here that basically ask for the information that I’m looking for, the day, the name, the company, city, state, zip, phone numbers, if they are going to pay by credit card that information is down here at the bottom.

So we have the ability to put these form fields in one by one which is what I would have done before Acrobat8 but now with Acrobat8, let’s let Acrobat have a crack at figuring out what the Form field should be automatically. Now under the Forms menu, you have a new command that is ‘Run Form Field Recognition’ or RFFR for short. Okay, so we can do the Run Form Field Recognition which will have Acrobat automatically look at the page and say, “Well I think this is a Form Field because it’s got a word next to a line or a word next to a box”.

So it kind of guesses that what should be Form Fields and what shouldn’t be and its not going to be a 100% on every single form you bring up and as a matter of fact, I’ve done this form before, I know its not a 100% on this form. So I picked an average example and again this is not a PDF that was created for this Podcast, this PDF is at least two to three years old. So I just wanted to try it on something that I had laying around just to make sure it worked.

So here, we are going to run it and it will take a second or two. It’s processing now and it’s basically going to give me a Recognition Report letting me know which fields that it detected and I can go through it page by page, or item by item and figure that out but I’ve got an easier way. I’m just going to close the Recognition Report and just say Highlight Fields, which is a button right here in the upper right hand corner of Acrobat. That will highlight any fields that are on the form in blue.

So I can see that its done an excellent job. Not only did it detect 99% of the fields but it also even detected the word ‘Signature’ and put a Signature Box in that someone could click and digitally sign this form which by the way, digital signatures are legal. They were enacted by law, by the Clinton Administration in the US. So they are perfectly legally binding. Now, what about the areas that it didn’t get, I said it got 99% of the form.

Well, I can see a period didn’t City, State and Zip, probably because it was confused that the way I designed the form. I designed one line with three names under it. So I didn’t know, probably didn’t know what it should do so I just left that alone. But it got every thing after that work phone, home phone, birth date. It even got the little Check Boxes here next to DSL dial up, other so forth and so on, cable modem. So it did a wonderful job on this particular form but again it didn’t get everything. So how do I fix it now? How do I get the ones that didn’t get? Well that’s pretty easy. Just go up to your Tools Menu, come down to Forms and show your Forms toolbar because again, you have a full copy of Acrobat. So I can go in and fix just the areas that it didn’t get.

So I just need to add three new fields. I need to add one here for city and once I let go, a dialogue box is going to pop up that allows me to name the field and give that field any attributes it should have and then I can go through, by the way that’s not a modal dialogue box when that thing pops up. It’s just a kind of a floating dialogue or panel that you can go in and continue to add information to.

So this should be city and again, I can give it any kind of appearance or options or what it should do so forth and so on but I don’t have to close it first before I continue. I can go in and just do State while I am here and I can go and say this should be State or Province and I can also do Zip, while we’re at it and it will just do Zip. All right, so now I can close this dialogue because I am finished editing the text field properties and now I’ve added the last few form fields that this didn’t pick up. Now in and of itself, the form could be done, I could say well there is nothing left to do with this form but post it on a Website. Anyone could download it and type into it now and that in and of itself is pretty cool but we can take this a step further.

We can add a ‘Submit’ button so that if we email this form out and someone fills it out, they could submit the data back to us, that’s where this feature really kicks butt. So let’s go and click the ‘Ok’ button which is just a button, button, we can tell it we want to create a new button here. I’m just going to put it at the bottom I don’t really have a spot for a ‘Submit’ button because I never imagined I’d be able to do this when I created this form, years ago.

So I am going to go ahead and say this is our — going to be our Submit button and the appearance is going to be the way it is now but I’m going to go to Options and I am going to say that since I am not over laying this on top of the word Submit, I have to tell it that it has the word submit in it and that’s what will actually show up in the PDF itself.

Now the other thing that I want to do is give it an action. We have to tell it that this is a Submit button. So what will this action do, it will submit a form. So when I pull that from the Pop up menu, you want to choose select Action is going to submit a form. Now, when you add that to the list of actions, it automatically detects that it’s going to submit the form data but where? Normally forms are submitted to a CGI program running on your Web server but in this case, I just want to mail the information back to me, so I am going to do a Mail To command: and I’m just going to say So that would be my mail to address that’s what’s coming back to. So it’s Mail To: then the email address that you want the form to go to.

Now I’m going to say okay and I’ll just want to — by the way just bring the data back, I don’t need anything else. We’ll click “Okay” to that and now we will close this because now our form has a form field Submit button that would — someone could click on and the data would come back. Now you notice that there is a Distribute button right here on the form toolbar and this Distribute button, its how you put the magic in to make this form work. Not only across people that have the Adobe Acrobat but also it allows you to email it out to people that just have the free Adobe Reader and they will be able to fill the form out and submit the data back to you.

So your copy of Acrobat8 Professional is enabling this technology inside of their copy of the free reader only on your phone. So they are going to get tools and abilities on your form that they won’t get on any other PDF unless it’s been enabled this way. So I’m going to do the Distribute here and I’ll see it, oh we haven’t saved it yet, sorry, let’s go and do a save here, lets do a Save and we are going to save this out to the desktop. Here we go and now we’ll do a Distribute, there we go and now it’s asking, how would you like to distribute your form? We can either send it via email now or save and send it later and by the way, there is licensing agreement to enable this form for the reader for so many people.

So read the license and agreement to make sure that you are in compliance with the form distribution options and you can click on it right here to read it. I don’t want you to do something that’s against the law, so be sure to read that. Just make sure you are not distributing the form that violates the license agreement. So it automatically detected that it’s going to come back to me because that’s what I put in for the Submit button and I can just go ahead and click Next and its also going to collect the data where the form resides now. It’s going to create a data template or data file to collect the data that the recipient sent back to me.

Next I can go ahead and key in my recipients or if I have used my OS address book, it will go ahead and allow me to pick people right off the Address Book to send back in but I’m just going to say you at your and then next, it proposes an email subject and proposes an email body. You have been asked to complete the form named Mac Group membership@page1. When you are finished completing the form, click the Submit button to return it. So it’s automatically telling them what to do.

You could edit this to say whatever you want. Now if I say Done, it should launch, its asking me do I want to import my name, my trusted identities from previous version of Acrobat. I’m going to say “no” and now its asking me, or it should not; I am sorry, now it should bring up my email program which it just did and it’s created a new email to go out to you and your and the email is already attached and ready to go to send out to that person.

Now, if you were to get the email and submit the data back, it’s going to come back to me via email as an FDF. So lets see how that process works, lets see if I can simulate that without actually having to do the emailing back and forth. So I am going to go ahead and say lets close this out here. Since the form is live and ready to go here, I am just going to go ahead and just key in a few things. I want to key into this date which is 10/1/06 and we are going to do Terry White and we are going to do — now we are going to jump over South Field here, Michigan and that’s it.

I’m just going to fill out a few things and we are going to check off cable modem here and I want a new membership, there we go. So now I am going to Submit this back and again, when I click Submit, it automatically opens up a new email program because I’m the one that received the program or received the form, it automatically creates a new email with just the data, just this little less than 1K file that’s going to go back to Once I get that data back, I double-click on it and it will automatically apply that data to the data set of my form.

So, again I don’t have that data set created just yet in this particular form but that’s how the process works. You are going to get the data back and then you are going to be able to work with that data inside of Acrobat. So you collect all the data back from all the people that submitted the form and you’ll be all set with the form data that you can also export out to a spreadsheet or bring into a database from your form that you generated and again, because you have Acrobat8 Professional, you are enabling reader to be able to submit the form back to you via email.

That’s it for this episode of the Adobe Creative Suite Podcast. My name is Terry White, thanks for watching.

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