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Peter Zelchenko
Currently Being Moderated

EasySign: Can I or can't I modify filled fields?!

Aug 31, 2012 6:18 PM

Tags: #reader #echosign #crap #10.1.3

Is it just me, or is Acrobat EchoSign a user-hostile piece of garbage? I am using Reader 10.1.3. Below is a form I'd love to fill out and perhaps "sign" with a TIFF of my signature, but first I have to type in some fields. Getting to this point took me 20 minutes this morning:

Acrobat EasySign.jpg

(Sorry about the furry JPEG; Adobe Forums only passively informed me after I tried saving to three non-antialiasing "content types" that it would only accept the JPEG.)

 

If you will look at the name field under the "YOUR INFORMATION" section, you'll see three blue blotches reflecting three multiple-selections of zero-length text area boxes from the list at the right. Those objects are the result of my patiently left-clicking the I-beam over my name in an effort to modify the text I've entered in each field. Each time I did so, I would briefly see a blip appear under the I-beam, but it would not allow me to edit my text. The blip, of course, was a zero-length text area box being created. I persisted because at one moment I swear I did see an arrow icon and it let me make a blue selection over one patch of my text, but then for some reason when I typed nothing happened, and then the apparition vanished and I could not repeat it. And it was only after a few minutes, when in frustration I started playing with right-clicking over a text field, that I discovered the "Comments List" so useless to me.

 

There are now dozens of these mini-boxes all over the sheet (just look at how the "Comments List" has 86 entries instead of the 12 that actually contain text). But this means I can't edit something once I've finished a text, doesn't it? If so, why not? Why is it not clear to me, a sophisticated user? Why the bizarre and unpredictable behavior? Or am I some kind of idiot, not having found the correct incantation? Perhaps one of Adobe's priestly programmers or myriad sycophants will now enlighten us all, tacitly suggesting that it's merely my stupidity, for They Knew the Blessed Secret Their First Time.

 

I've searched pretty exhaustively for a solution to this and so far have found nothing, but perhaps that's because I've only budgeted 45 minutes for this would-be simple task. Am I going to have to pull this file into Illustrator, or print it out and mail it?

 

Twenty or so years ago, I was probably the first or second person outside of Mountain View to be shown the alpha of Carousel. Since that moment -- and despite having held out hope numerous times -- I still can't easily fill out a document online without heartache. Why can't I edit a field? What am I going to have to do when I want to modify a multi-line field? My workarounds over the years have run the gamut of every possible thing you can imagine, from scanning into Photoshop or Illustrator or Quark or InDesign; to blind fields and double-exposures on a laser printer; to glue; even to hacking the fields into the PostScript with setfonts and movetos and shows.

 

I've spent 40 years in the graphic arts; half of them I've wrestled with Acrobat, on some pretty complex work products having features of debatable benefit when shoehorned into PDF format. When it comes to the simple single-page monochrome Letter/A4 form -- the most abundant portable document on Earth -- we are now in Acrobat v10 and all I want to do is easily fill out a form and sign it and e-mail it back and I still can't.

 

Why is life so much harder now than when I could run this through a typewriter, Adobe? What are you really doing about it for the billions? How much more of our lives' valuable moments are you going to squander?

 

(P.S. What a difference almost a day makes: Hours after beginning this -- and just before submitting this article -- I myself have discovered the incantation with a few minutes' further experimentation over the many already expended. I can now recreate the arrow and edit the field. It is actually not difficult, but it is far from obvious and it is the furthest thing from good UI technique. Nevertheless, I now Know The Blessed Secret, or at least one part of it. But it does not change my position above. Can you surmise why, O Adobe Priesthood of Insufferable Sanctimony? If it takes a seasoned programmer hours to learn out the combination, what makes you think Grandma and Grandpa are ever going to figure it out?)

 
Replies
  • Currently Being Moderated
    Aug 31, 2012 7:20 PM   in reply to Peter Zelchenko

    This is a user to user forum. There is nothing us fellow users can do about this except sympathizing with you...

     
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  • George Johnson
    11,668 posts
    Aug 11, 2002
    Currently Being Moderated
    Aug 31, 2012 7:40 PM   in reply to Peter Zelchenko

    I'd have to say that a big part of the problem is due to the agency providing the form. It would have worked far better if they had taken the time to add actual interactive form fields so you wouldn't have to bother with the typewriter tool. It's actually nice that Adobe provides this as an option of last resort for PDFs that look like forms. It's a bit silly to provide a PDF of a form and not make it fillable, especially since it's been possible since Acrobat/Reader 3. That particular form would be easy to set up with fields.

     

    Regarding the TIFF file not being accepted, now that's worth looking into some more. Consider filing a bug report.

     
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  • George Johnson
    11,668 posts
    Aug 11, 2002
    Currently Being Moderated
    Aug 31, 2012 8:02 PM   in reply to Peter Zelchenko

    > I disagree.

     

    I don't understand. Are you saying that if the form had been fillable, with actual interactive form fields, that you still would have had a problem completing the form (apart from the signature)? If so, what would your complaint have been? Acroforms are a mature, stable, and widely used technology. Using the typewriter tool is comparatively clumsy, but at least it's an option when form creators fail their users.

     

    As I said, I agree that the TIFF import problem is definitely worth looking into. EchoSign is a very new feature for Reader, and there are bound to be a few bugs. If you're interested in getting it fixed, post a bug report.

     
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  • Currently Being Moderated
    Aug 31, 2012 8:54 PM   in reply to Peter Zelchenko

    You don't seem to realize that you are addressing fellow users here, not Adobe. No use to bark at us, this is the wrong tree.

     
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  • Currently Being Moderated
    Sep 1, 2012 6:06 PM   in reply to Peter Zelchenko

    You are of course entitled to vent here as much as you like (or are allowed). However, don't expect to receive in this forum official answers to any of your questions, or to produce any major or minor change in Adobe's policies or products by posting here.

     
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  • Currently Being Moderated
    Sep 1, 2012 7:33 PM   in reply to Peter Zelchenko

    Peter Zelchenko wrote:

     

    (Side note to Adobe Forums programmers, assuming you're not listening: Ctrl-arrow at the ends of lines in this editor jumps across two words, not one. How many years has since that bug was implemented? How many years before it's fixed? Try it and see for yourselves.)

    The forum admins are definitely not visiting the product forums, but do listen here http://forums.adobe.com/community/general/forum_comments

     

    I actually have never heard of the Ctrl+arrow shortcut, so I just tried it here in this post: interesting feature!  But it does skip one word at the time, at least under Waterfox 15 on Windows 7.

     
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  • Currently Being Moderated
    Sep 1, 2012 7:42 PM   in reply to Peter Zelchenko

    If you find that I have used an authoritanian tone, I apologize; it's not in my style. All I have tried to do is to make you see that you are wasting your time by posting these complaints here. And with this, I am off.

     
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