5 Replies Latest reply on Jul 16, 2017 3:45 PM by BlueDing

    Enabling form fields to 'track changes' at multiple different times within a single form document?

    BlueDing

      I'm very new to InDesign and would appreciate some help with creating interactive PDF forms. I'm looking to design a PDF form which will, in theory, be passed between two teams multiple times as a complex request progresses towards completion. Team A will first complete some of the form fields and pass it to Team B to action; then a few weeks later Team A might update the same form with more details and re-send it as a request to update the previous work, or Team B might send it back with some corrections or questions added for Team A, etc. I'd like this to be a PDF form so as to make it look attractive/reasonably modern and to keep the information for each request somewhat standard, but I'd also like to be able to use a single document version for each request (perhaps to be kept on a shared drive accessed by both teams), to minimise double-handling and version proliferation. I'd also like to enable each team to quickly identify the form edits made by the other team, each time a given form gets updated, rather than either team having to check through the entire form and cross-reference with related systems etc to check which parts of the request have already been done.

      Additionally, any 'track changes' functionality also has to be user-friendly so that form users will actually make use of it. For example, I could put a radio button next to each form field asking the user to nominate 'Needs action from Team A', 'Needs action from Team B' or 'N/A' for that field, but I doubt the form users could be bothered doing that extra step for every field, every time they update the form.

       

      A couple of vague ideas I have so far:

      • Is there a way of making the editing of one field, automatically prompt the updating of the value of a different field? (There does seem to be a way of one field prompting the appearance/disappearance of another field, but after that's been done once I'm not sure if that functionality would properly track changes in later editing rounds.)
        • In a related vein, is there a way of setting up a button or other action which will change all the values of a designated group of fields to [whatever]? That might be a more user-friendly way of using the radio button idea I mentioned above, if a given team can reset the radio buttons alongside all fields with one click, and then quickly cherry-pick the ones alongside the updated fields. If there's no 'update all these fields' functionality per se, could this perhaps be accomplished by a complicated 'hide all these fields' set up instead? (However, even if this is possible, I'm not sure if users would take to it so it may not be worth the trouble.)
      • I know that there's a 'text variable' option for adding a 'date modified' value to a document, but to my limited understanding it only applies to the entire document, and can't be applied to a single field. Is that correct?
        • 1. Re: Enabling form fields to 'track changes' at multiple different times within a single form document?
          BlueDing Level 1

          Just adding that I've possibly made some progress on this today, but am still not quite there. The short version: I still need to know, is there any way to trigger a show/hide field action by the 'event' of a user changing the content within a text field, rather than via a click/release/focus/etc on the text field?

           

          The long version, in case it helps anyone else: I've been trying out the 'hiding/showing' fields feature for this purpose. It's a bit convoluted, but I've created two separate button fields, one of which looks like a checked checkbox (but is actually just an image of one) and the other of which looks like an unchecked checkbox (ditto). I've laid them directly on top of one another and set things up so that the relevant image automatically 'hides' or 'shows' when certain other fields are clicked, with only one of the buttons showing at any given time. These two button fields therefore serve as a kind of barometer of recent changes made to selected other fields. (I first tried doing this with actual checkbox or radio button field types, but the 'hiding' made those fields disappear altogether and rendered them no longer clickable, when I just wanted them to become unchecked/deselected). I've then repeated this set up with a new 'fake checkbox' (ie, pair of button fields) for each different group of fields throughout the form.

          Additionally, a radio button at the top of the form now lets me reset all of these 'fake checkbox' button fields to 'unchecked' (in actuality, it accomplishes this by 'hiding' the checked button and 'showing' the unchecked button), so that a user can reset things when they want to just have their subsequent, new form edits highlighted.

           

          So far so good. However, I run into difficulties when it comes to text fields. I want users to be able to click into, or tab through, text fields on the form without updating the content therein, and to not have that erroneously register as a field update. However, if they click into / tab into the field and do make an adjustment to the text content, that should register as a field update. I've tried various settings for the events 'On release or tap', 'On focus', 'On blur' etc for my text fields, but in my testing there always remains some probable user action which produces the wrong status for the 'fake checkbox'. Ergo: is there any way to trigger a show/hide field action by the 'event' of a user changing the content within a text field, rather than via a click/release/focus/etc on the text field?

          • 2. Re: Enabling form fields to 'track changes' at multiple different times within a single form document?
            BobLevine MVP & Adobe Community Professional

            What you’re looking for is way too advanced to be done in InDesign. You’ll get more help in the Acrobat forums.

            • 3. Re: Enabling form fields to 'track changes' at multiple different times within a single form document?
              Steve Werner Adobe Community Professional & MVP

              Here are the Acrobat forums which would probably be most useful (my guess would be that it would require JavaScript programming):

               

              PDF forms

               

              Javascript

              1 person found this helpful
              • 4. Re: Enabling form fields to 'track changes' at multiple different times within a single form document?
                John Mensinger Adobe Community Professional & MVP

                What Bob says is true. If you intend to continue pursuit of these functionalities as you describe them, the field features available in InDesign will fall well short of your needs; whereas everything you want is available (some will require Javascript) in Acrobat.

                • 5. Re: Enabling form fields to 'track changes' at multiple different times within a single form document?
                  BlueDing Level 1

                  Thank you all for your advice. I wasn't sure if this wasn't doable in InDesign, or if I just didn't know how yet. Most likely the time I have available won't allow for me to dig into Acrobat for this, so I might need to abandon the idea this time. However, I appreciate your help.