19 Replies Latest reply on Jan 26, 2017 6:02 PM by BarbBinder

    Can I export interactive forms to another InDesign document?

    David Borrink Level 1

      I have four previously created documents that I want to add a lot of interactive forms to. All four documents are the same structure (calendar planners and forms) with different designs. If I add all the interactive forms to one, can I export the forms to the other three? They would be on the same pages in all four versions. It would save me a phenomenal amount of time if I can do one planner interactively and export those forms to the other three. My thought was to put the interactive panels on another layer.

       

      Is this possible or am I going to have to copy-paste page-by-page to the other versions?

        • 1. Re: Can I export interactive forms to another InDesign document?
          Steve Werner Adobe Community Professional & MVP

          There's no "export forms" feature. But here are three alternatives:

           

          (1) Try using Layout > Pages > Move Pages to move pages from the one form.

           

          (2) Or put all the forms into one file, duplicate the file, then delete the pages you don't need.

           

          (3) Or, you could use the Content Collector and Content Placer tools to transfer forms.

           

          It all depends on how things are constructed. Those methods may be faster than copy/paste.

          • 2. Re: Can I export interactive forms to another InDesign document?
            David Borrink Level 1

            Thanks, Steve. I was under the impression there wasn't an "export forms" feature. To answer your suggestions...

             

            1. I was thinking perhaps the "move pages" could be used to import one set of the forms and pages to another document, then move the interactive fields from the imported pages up to the desired pages. It would be a spread-by-spread paste job within one document. Then delete the imported pages once the forms are all moved to the document's actual pages.

             

            2. Not sure about that one.

             

            3. I'll have to look into the Content Collector and Placer. That's one tool I haven't used yet.

             

            Another idea I had would be to do one of the versions with the new forms, then duplicate the document and swap out the designs (mainly colors and background patterns) to recreate the other 3 versions. The fonts are all the same so there's no text issues. This idea might be easier than copy-pasting a ton of forms.

             

            Thanks for your advice! I appreciate the quick response.

            • 3. Re: Can I export interactive forms to another InDesign document?
              Eternal Warrior Adobe Community Professional

              Assuming that your previous documents are saved in PDF format - I would instead just open Acrobat and use the combine multiple files option to restructure how you want. You could even then create the master structure and just add/remove pages or PDFs that were needed to create the other variables.

              • 5. Re: Can I export interactive forms to another InDesign document?
                David Borrink Level 1

                So, EW, are you saying I could combine a PDF that has the planner designs, and a PDF that has the interactive fields? I assumed that combine files means adding consecutive pages, adding on to one document from another. But are you saying I can overlay a file onto another?

                 

                I know that PDF files have a couple different "layers", as I've inherited some interactive planners in the past and was able to bring into Acrobat a new set of pages to replace the "Design" layer while the "interactive" layer remained. Then I was able to move a few calender fields around to update the files.

                 

                So your idea has me wondering, can I output just the interactive fields as a PDF file from InDesign and then overlay them in another PDF with the design?

                • 6. Re: Can I export interactive forms to another InDesign document?
                  Eternal Warrior Adobe Community Professional

                  Yes you can also do that...

                   

                  How do I overlay one PDF document with another? (Edit PDF)

                  PDF layers, Adobe Acrobat DC

                   

                  Make sure you open the Interactive form elements first...As when I tested this doing it the other way around my interactive fields stopped working.

                   

                  Essentially open acrobat and navigate to the layers panel of the PDF:

                  Example 2.PNG

                   

                  Then choose import as layer:

                   

                  Example 3.PNG

                   

                  And follow the on screen instructions... Just make sure you name your new layer.

                  • 7. Re: Can I export interactive forms to another InDesign document?
                    Eternal Warrior Adobe Community Professional

                    If you do it the other way you need to use the "Identify form fields tool" to find the already created fields OR use Edit "Prepare Form" tools found by searching in the acrobat toolbar on the right hand side:

                     

                    My "Identify Form fields" is greyed out in the example because I was testing out a theory I had that worked...

                    Example 4.PNG

                    • 8. Re: Can I export interactive forms to another InDesign document?
                      Eternal Warrior Adobe Community Professional

                      At least I think that's what you were asking... It's hard to not start doubting your answers when you only have text and no actual examples to go on.

                      • 9. Re: Can I export interactive forms to another InDesign document?
                        David Borrink Level 1

                        I know. Here are some specifics.

                         

                        I took an existing planner file in InDesign and added a new layer called "Interactive Layer". I created tons of text fields on many pages on that layer. I then created a copy of the InDesign file and deleted the design layer so that "Interactive Layer" was the only one. Then I exported as Adobe PDF (Interactive) with Create PDF Layers checked. So this PDF only has the interactive fields on a layer.

                         

                        I opened up that file in Acrobat and went to pages that had fields, and there they all were on their correct pages. Excellent.

                         

                        Now to test this by seeing if I could add all these interactive fields to an existing copy of one of last year's planners. The layout structure is the same. So the fields would show up on the correct pages.

                         

                        In Acrobat DC, I opened a PDF copy of one of last year's planners after I exported it out of InDesign with "Create PDF Layers" (so that there would be existing layers in the PDF). I went to the Layer popup in Acrobat and chose "Import as Layer".

                         

                        The dialog box came up and I

                        - chose the source file of my PDF with only the interactive layer on it (I note that there is a page number selection and it's single digits, so this had me wondering if I was able to import the whole document with the layer)

                        - chose "Create new layer" and called it "interactive layer"

                        - chose "add to group" with the name of the existing file

                        - noted that Appearance was "appear in front of page"

                        - clicked OK

                         

                        The "interactive layer" showed up at the bottom of the group. "Layer 1" is the design layer. I don't see a way to move the "interactive layer" up. Even then, it would seem to not help because I turn off Layer 1 to see if the field boxes are visible, and they are not. It looks like the interactive fields did not import.

                         

                        Screen Shot 2017-01-25 at 10.37.21 AM.png

                        • 10. Re: Can I export interactive forms to another InDesign document?
                          Eternal Warrior Adobe Community Professional

                          Ahh...yes so because you have a big document I would do it my alternative way (see actual discussion as I replied to myself).

                           

                          Essentially you just *unfortunately* need to do an additional step... BUT It's easy!! and I'll repeat myself here:

                           

                          Do your same step by step process as before...

                           

                          The dialog box came up and I

                          - chose the source file of my PDF with only the interactive layer on it (I note that there is a page number selection and it's single digits, so this had me wondering if I was able to import the whole document with the layer)

                          - chose "Create new layer" and called it "interactive layer"

                          - chose "add to group" with the name of the existing file

                          - noted that Appearance was "appear in front of page"

                          - clicked OK

                           

                          BUT THEN >

                          you need to use the "Identify form fields tool" to find the already created fields OR use Edit "Prepare Form" tools found by searching in the acrobat toolbar on the right hand side > This should re-locate your fields and all you need to do is save...

                           

                          Example 4.PNG

                           

                          As before... My "Identify Form fields" is greyed out in the example because I was testing out a theory I had that worked...

                           

                          Ergo...I would use the Identify Form fields as this worked in my test...

                           

                           

                          HOWEVER:

                           

                           

                          For a one page document I would do it this alternative way....

                           

                          1. I would have the interactive fields PDF open in acrobat only (not calendar)
                          2. chose the source file of my PDF with only the calendar layer on it
                          3. chose "Create new layer" and called it "Calendar layer"
                          4. chose "add to group" with the name of the existing file
                          5. noted that Appearance was "appear behind page"
                          6. click OK

                           

                          You could still use this method but it will likely add another couple of additional steps to the workflow.

                          • 11. Re: Can I export interactive forms to another InDesign document?
                            Eternal Warrior Adobe Community Professional

                            In addition you could explore creating .FDF files and importing/exporting these:

                             

                            http://www.nuance.com/products/help/NuancePDF/en_US/Importing_and_Exporting_Form_Data.htm

                             

                            The only thing I have noticed if you are using text fields in your interactive PDF is that you need to make sure they have field names ([EDIT] or just make sure they are bordered/framed properly) or you may not be able to use these when using the identify form fields option....

                             

                            Also Identify form fields option can create/find additional form fields in long documents that you weren't aware of/didn't want if you're not careful.

                             

                            So at least now you have a couple of options to try and figure out which will work best for you....Either way it's hopefully reduced your workflow significantly...

                            • 12. Re: Can I export interactive forms to another InDesign document?
                              David Borrink Level 1

                              I tried your method by taking the setup I already started with and did the next step by typing "Identify form fields tool" in the "find your tools here" search box. It brought up the Prepare Form area, which went through and created a whole ton of fields in my document, but apparently did not pick up any field I had created already. It made new ones, which while accurate in some instances, did not work in others. I clicked on the "Interactive Fields" layer icon and the fields didn't disappear. So these are a brand new set of fields.

                               

                              I tried this "in reverse" with my two files ... where I used my interactive output-only file and imported the graphics layer into it. That worked using the import layer feature, and my artwork was able to go below the interactive field, but... I was only able to import one page at at time. That clearly isn't going to work because each planner has about 160 pages.

                               

                              So it would appear the only way I'll be able to do this is to create one set of interactive fields on a layout, then output the layout as a PDF with the interactive fields. That planner version will be saved as a copy and I will replace the pages with another designed version using "replace pages" in order to add my other designs. I know that the interactive layer will remain intact. In other projects, I've had to do this way.

                               

                              I also discovered some horizontal layout pages will need to remain horizontal and not be flipped vertical because the interactive fields cannot be rotated in a PDF. So that's a layout change I'll need to make.

                               

                              Thank you for taking the time to point out these features, EW. I do appreciate it.

                              • 13. Re: Can I export interactive forms to another InDesign document?
                                Eternal Warrior Adobe Community Professional

                                You're welcome...

                                 

                                I know this was an InDesign question.. and in most circumstances it's probably "best practice" to do this in InDesign so that when you export you know for sure the end PDF's will have the same consistent compression etc all the way through.

                                 

                                However I try and approach questions on most forums I participate in here as what is the easiest method for the OP - Unless asked to directly do something one way...

                                1 person found this helpful
                                • 14. Re: Can I export interactive forms to another InDesign document?
                                  David Borrink Level 1

                                  Exactly. I know that Acrobat can do more than InDesign when it comes to form layout and function, and that InDesign has limits on the output (such as the inability to set different fonts in the form text fields). So it's just a matter of education in what app does what.

                                  • 15. Re: Can I export interactive forms to another InDesign document?
                                    BarbBinder Adobe Community Professional

                                    David—a link to this script showed up in my inbox this afternoon, and I remembered your question from the other day. I wonder if it would be helpful?

                                    https://redokun.com/blog/indesign-copy-entire-layer-one-file-another

                                    1 person found this helpful
                                    • 16. Re: Can I export interactive forms to another InDesign document?
                                      David Borrink Level 1

                                      Wow, Barb. That looks exactly what I need! I wondered if there was a possibility that a script might exist for something like this. I couldn't possibly be the only person who needed to move a lot of form fields to another version of a InDesign document.

                                       

                                      I was looking to insert the "design" from one document into a PDF file with the interactive layer intact via "Replace pages" in Acrobat, so that would mean one set of interactive files existing in one of the four InDesign files.

                                       

                                      This script if it works, would allow me to put all four InDesigns with native interactive fields in each one. That would save me a good amount of versioning, and even allow custom modifications for each if needed, well, it is needed because my table of contents links would have needed swapping out via an Acrobat paste-over-from different files to do.

                                       

                                      Anywho.... THANK YOU for taking the time to share that.

                                      • 17. Re: Can I export interactive forms to another InDesign document?
                                        BarbBinder Adobe Community Professional

                                        It sounded like a good match. If you give it a go, come back and let us know if it worked for you, or not.

                                        • 18. Re: Can I export interactive forms to another InDesign document?
                                          David Borrink Level 1

                                          I just tested it on a duplicate copy of my planner without the interactive layer in it. It took a while, but it did a perfect job. The layer copied over perfectly.

                                           

                                          This is going to save me a ton of work and dramatically simplify my project.

                                           

                                          Thanks again!