3 Replies Latest reply on Nov 27, 2012 10:36 AM by George_Johnson

    Acrobat vs Livecyle - which is better for making accessible PDF's

    miss forms

      I am having a very hard time making my PDF accessible. The source program I use to create my document is InDesign 5.5. I convert to PDF and am attempting to tag it using Acrobat X. I tried tagging my form using the articles panel in InDesign but it doesnt convert to PDF properly (which i learned at this forum is a system glitch). Someone at work suggesting using LiveCycle but I am not familiar with LiveCycle at all. I thougt it was an add-on extension to Acrobat so I'm confused why someone would tell me to use LiveCycle instead of Acrobat X. Can someone please clarify for me what the diff is between Acrobat and Livecyle. I need to make my document accessible by the end of the week and having a lot of problems doing it but i want to make sure that Acrobat is the best adobe product to use before going any further.


      Any help is GREATLY appreciated!

        • 1. Re: Acrobat vs Livecyle - which is better for making accessible PDF's
          George_Johnson MVP & Adobe Community Professional

          They were probably referring to LiveCycle Designer, which is a separate program that comes with the Windows version of Acrobat Pro. It is used to create XFA forms, which is different than the type of forms created in Acrobat (Acroforms). XFA forms can be either static or dynamic. If you've never used Livecycle Designer before, there is a significant learning curve, and there is unlikely to be any advantage with respect to accessibility and there are a number of disadvantages.


          I'd suggest that your time is better spent learning more about making your form accessible using Acrobat. Unfortunately, this too has a significant learning curve, but there are some good resources available. Here's a link to a good post by Dave Austin that should be helpful: http://answers.acrobatusers.com/pdf-forms-created-live-cycle-designer-508-compliant-langua ge-property-blank-q33809.aspx


          Hopefully Dave will see this and provide more guidance.

          • 2. Re: Acrobat vs Livecyle - which is better for making accessible PDF's
            CtDave Level 6

            Hi miss forms,
            I'm out of the country just now and "on-line" time is occasional. However, here are some observations for your consideration.
            All this may sound daunting. It is not (honest). Think of it as becoming a competent cook.
            Some study. Some practice then it is Rachael Ray time.

            Here's a short take:


            Use InD CS 5.5 to master the underlying "form text".
            Master content with accessible PDF in mind.
            Example - if any "headings" are to be used then use InD built-in paragraph tags.
            Output the tagged PDF.
            Walk the structure tree. Perform requisite post-processing activities.
            Goal is to acquire that well-formed tagged PDF.
            Next, build the form fields.
            Properly fold these into the structure tree.


            "... but i want to make sure that Acrobat is the best adobe product to use before going any further."
            Currently and for the foreseeable future - if  you must provide accessible PDF as a deliverable you must have Acrobat Pro.
            You want the most current version and you want to keep it updated.
            Currently there is no such thing as an accessible PDF that does not require post-processing by a knowledgeable "warm-body".
            As the 'warm-body' you perform the essential V&V prior to release of the deliverable.
            While there are tools to help with they still do not replace the 'warm-body'.

            "I need to make my document accessible by the end of the week ..."
            This could be problematic. Unless you are all ready well versed in what a well-formed tagged PDF is and how to stage it in the authoring file I suspect that you won't have a proper deliverable by 30 November.

            Using InD CS 5.5 is 'good' but it is not (as you've discovered) adequately robust for well-formed tagged PDF output compared to the current release.
            The output PDF needs manual remediation (only possible with Acrobat Pro).

            As to any current authoring application used -
            Whatever is used it needs to provide robust "tag management".
            Currently the first string consists of:
            Adobe FrameMaker,
            Adobe InDesign,
            (n.b., Adobe has invested significant resources in improving mastering content for accessible PDF and output of tagged PDF InDesign versions released since CS5.5. So, if InD is your requisite authoring application I'd recommend you move into the current release.)
            MS Word 2010.

            When using MS Word 2010 one can use the MS Save As PDF - XPS configured to provide accessible PDF or use
            For Word 2010 you'd need at least Acrobat X in order to have a compatible PDFMaker.

            Some other applications are also providing for authoring / tagged PDF output (such as Open Office).

            Regardless of the authoring application used Acrobat Pro is still need for requisite post-processing (structure tree V&V, cleanup, etc).

            What form "type" to use?
            I'd recommend Acrobat forms rather than XFA forms.
            Accessible XFA forms are possible.
            But, As George said - a non-trivial learning curve for the basics. Then comes the learning / practice to develop the accessible XFA form.
            If you go with XFA I suggest obtaining the XFA spec that Adobe provides.

            Considering the improvements Adobe has made in Acrobat XI for Acrobat forms I'd recommend you use that.
            However, if you have an older version you can still get there from here (using Acrobat Pro).

            "Tools" considerations:

            Common Look PDF - An enterprise level tool.
            A plug-in for Acrobat.

            Common Look Office Pro
            (Pro supports PDF forms (Acrobat forms - not XFA forms)
            An add-in / plug-in for MS Office 2007/2010.
            Used with Power Point or Word.
            Provides check points on mastered content. You resolve identified issues then use it to output a tagged PDF.
            Perfom requisite post-processing with Acrobat Pro.


            MS Word 2010
            Provides content mastering "coaching" for output of accessible PDF.

            PDF Accessibility Checker
            A "validation" tool.

            AIIM's PDF/UA, Universal Accessiblity

            The "Achieving WCAG 2.0 with PDF/UA" is available.
            The Implementation Guides are in the oven.

            ISO 14289-1:2012 (ISO standard for PDF/UA)
            Available for purchase at ANSI's web store.

            ISO 32000-1 (ISO standard for PDF)
            Section 14.8 discusses tagged PDF.
            Free, ISO approved copy available from Adobe.
            http://wwwimages.adobe.com/www.adobe.com/content/dam/Adobe/en/devnet/pdf/pdfs/PDF32000_200 8.pdf

            I've tried to harvest accessible PDF documentation Adobe's provided since Acrobat 5.
            Have most of it my "eReference Shelves"; but, that's at home.
            What's nice about these documents is that you can harvest activity specific information with confidence that it is an appropriate "reciepe".
            If interested in adding these to your "shelves" let me know.
            Use this forum's PM feature.


            Be well...


            • 3. Re: Acrobat vs Livecyle - which is better for making accessible PDF's
              George_Johnson MVP & Adobe Community Professional

              Thanks a lot for that post Dave. Looking into the CommonLook PDF plug-in for Acrobat led me to Duff Johnson's blog there: http://www.commonlook.com/2012-02-Logical-Structures


              which looks like another useful resource.