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While form-field insertion capabilities are present in InDesign, it's really not a great tool for setting up form functions. Personally, I don't even waste my time adding form fields in InDesign; opting rather to do so in Acrobat, where it doesn't take any longer to add them (in fact, it's a much 'freer' process because they are fully independent of the layout and you can just draw/drag/drop them wherever you need), and you can indeed select multiple fields and set properties, along with many other Acrobat-only features.
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Thanks, John, I think you're right. There are many features Acrobat handles better than InDesign in the form design process. Many times, the best approach is just to do the "broad strokes" in InDesign, and do the refinements in Acrobat Pro.
Thanks for the info. I may have to go that route but, in the meantime, I created text frames the same size as my table cells on a new layer and was able to select them all at once to apply the same form field options before I customize the name of each one.
A test export to Acrobat seemed to get better results for field detection with those text frames converted to text fields than using the base table I set up for the product info and entry fields. Acrobat wasn't detecting all of the cells or grouping several cells into 1 big cell. It was messy and would require creating individual cells regardless so InDesign seemed to be a faster method for creating uniform fields that were properly aligned and spaced.
there is no way to do that by using the "Buttons and Forms" panel.
Because you are using a nested structure. Table cells that contain graphic containers—a.k. graphic cells are nested structures.
Like a row of anchored objects in a text frame. You can only select one to convert them.
You can select a couple of cells, but you cannot select a couple of graphic containers in each of the cells at one time.
Even if the containers are visible in a row in the Layers panel.
What you can do is ( but is this advisable? ) :
Do one form field with one cell—e.g. a button—select the cell and copy it to the clipboard.
To select the graphic cell select the form field and hit esc on the keyboard.
Select a couple of cells and the one cell you copied will be pasted to all selected cells.
A bug with copy/paste buttons
Actions with "Show/Hide fields" you have defined with your original button will be removed when a button is pasted.
FWIW: Duplicating buttons will also remove all actions with Show/Hide fields.
Why would you like to do formfields within a table?
I'd keep it as simple as possible.
// EDIT: I did not read your last comment before posting this.
// Ok. You dropped the idea doing all in a table structure. Good…
Thanks very much for the explanation and tips.
Yes, I dropped the idea of using Graphic Cells for form fields. The reason I set up the form in a table is that tabled data for product listings and pricing was the most sensible format to arrange the info. Having fields next to the prices for specifying quantities was also the most sensible format in this case and then the form can calculate the cost based on those quantities, like a spreadsheet with formulas.
It's too bad InDesign doesn't have the capabilities for converting table cells directly into form fields. It would make things a lot easier for those of us making price sheets full of tabled data.
dugost wrote… It's too bad InDesign doesn't have the capabilities for converting table cells directly into form fields. It would make things a lot easier for those of us making price sheets full of tabled data.
I doubt that.
At least when you are using buttons a lot, that control visibility of other form fields.
One reason are some bugs or not well designed properties of buttons:
If you move a button off the page ( say to the pasteboard ) and in again it could lose some of the set visibility properties or values. And that's really bad. And Tag Order is only a property of a single page. Not of the spread.
Then the "Buttons and Forms" panel:
You cannot change properties of two and more buttons selected at one time.
Just only one by one.
I didn't realize that when it concerns buttons but I'm mostly dealing with text fields for data entry. And once I converted text frames to text fields instead of using Graphic Cells I was easily able to select all of my text fields and apply the same properties to them. After that it was a much quicker process to specify unique names for each field instead of clicking a bunch of same checkboxes over and over.
But then could have stayed easily with your table cell approach. :-)
Just prepare one specific form field that you need elsewhere in the table.
Or maybe even a row or column of form fields you need elsewehere.
Select one cell by clicking one form field, hit ESC to select the cell.
If you like to select more cells move on with the selection by using the arrow keys while holding the SHIFT key as well.
Copy the selection to the clipboard.
Move on to the target.
Could be a selected cell in this table.
Could be a selected cell in a different table.
Now some tricks.
1. Select one single target cell and simply paste:
As long as there are no merged cells in your table and as long as there are enough cells and rows available to hold the cells in the clipboard, all the cells from the clipboard will show up. Without first selecting them.
2. Have one cell copied and select a bunch of cells and paste.
The one cell in the clipboard will be copied to all selected cells.
Thanks for the tips but I'm afraid I'm not seeing how that would allow me to make and duplicate table cells into form text fields. You perfectly described how to select, copy and paste cell/row/column content into another area of a table but that doesn't work for form text fields, as far as I can tell. Since a table cell can't be changed to a form text field using the Buttons and Forms panel, all that achieves is selecting table elements.
Am I overlooking something?
First convert the container of an empty graphic cell to a form field.
The cell is still a graphic cell. Containing a form field.
Select the cell, not the container! Then copy the cell.
Select some cells. Then paste. Done.
All cells you had selected before pasting contain now copies of the form field.
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In case it's still not clear:
1. Create a table:
2. Select a cell:
3. Convert to graphic cell
4. Select the empty container of that graphic cell and convert to form field:
5. Hit ESC on the keyboard to select the cell
Copy the selected cell:
6. Select some empty cells. Could be in that table, could be in a different one:
8. Inspect a pasted cell using the "Buttons and Forms" panel:
Thanks so much for that walk-through. I totally get how that method works now and may do that in the future.
The only drawback I can think of is that you wouldn't then be able to select multiple graphic cells converted to fields should you want to make any batch changes. However, the method you outlined is pretty simple so redoing the fields wouldn't be a huge issue. Plus after the PDF is created there's always the option of making multiple field edits at the same time in Acrobat if InDesign is too clunky.