9 Replies Latest reply on Apr 16, 2010 9:31 AM by Chris TMC

    Changing hand-filled forms into PDFs, fill-in lines are making it tough

    Chris TMC

      Hello!

       

      I joined the forum because I see that so many people are being assisted and their questions are being answered. I hope that I will be as lucky!

       

      I am quite new to using LiveCycle, and I am just getting the hang of it. My employer has a large number of preexisting .doc forms that were designed to be printed and filled in with pen (I know, so old fashioned lol.) We are now looking toward making these exact forms into digital PDFs. We want the forms to be both pen AND digital friendly. Therefore, I am working with forms that have things like multiple FIB lines for writing. Whatever I do to these forms, whats underneath cannot change... and so it has to work with the multiple fill-in-the-blank lines that are already there.

       

      I am hoping there is someone out there with the "tech-how" to help me solve my problem, and do the two things that my employer really, really wants:

      (1) allow these existing pen-friendly forms to be filled in electronically

      (2) mark these existing forms along the bottom left with the date they were printed off the server (and possibly with the network login of whomever printed them.)

       

      In order to try and accomplish (1), I created text fields for each of the lines in the "additional information" and "additional details" secitons. What I do not understand is, wow do I make it so that when a person fills in the first field, it will then automatically jump the next whole word to the following field? Is there a way to "link" the four fields together? The way I have it now, the user fills in the first line, then the user must tab to the next, fill that one, tab to the next, and so on. This prevents people from simply typing their answers, which is an unfortunate hinderance.

       

      I tried setting a field up on my own, creating it so that one large field covers the entire area. However, it does not line up properly with the lines that are already there on the page- and it looks awful.

       

      I also see that when for example one is setting up fields for phone numbers, it is possible to make the cursor jump to the next field after the 3 area code digits. This is closer to what I want, but not exactly. I still would not want people having to push the space button to get to the end or have words cut in half and continue on the next "line." There has to be a better way!

       

      My other issue is that, while I understand the concept of, say, javascript code, I need someone to literally SPELL OUT where I am to go and exactly what I am to do. I mean, Im not even sure what the "change event" of a text field even is. I am a smart person though, so hopefully once someone spells it out for me I will get it.

       

      As far as (2) goes, I presently have no idea how to accomplish that task. Any help would be sincerely appreciated!

       

      -Chris

        • 1. Re: Changing hand-filled forms into PDFs, fill-in lines are making it tough
          pguerett Level 6

          It is always difficult to take a form that was built for a pen and make it electronic .....something will always not be right. For fields where you have multiple lines of input you would define a single field and set it to multiline. This will allow the response to wrap as required to fit the field. Having lines in the box for the printed version will cause nothing but pain for the online filling experience. You coudl make the form intelligent such that if the user hit the print button you coudl check to see if there is data in that field and if there is not then you could add the lines (as you now know they are printing a blank copy - presumably to fill out with a pen). Is this acceptable?

           

          For the 2nd issue putting the date across the bottom when the form is printed is easy. You will need a field to hold the information and on the prePrint event of that field you can add the FormCalc code:

           

          $.rawValue = num2date(date(), DateFmt(1))

           

          Each time the print command is issued the prePrint event will fire and the current Date will be placed in that field. Getting the logged in user is not allowed for security reasons.

           

          Hope that helps

          Paul

           

          1 person found this helpful
          • 2. Re: Changing hand-filled forms into PDFs, fill-in lines are making it tough
            Chris TMC Level 1

            First of all, thank you for responding so quickly!

             

            You are right, it is very difficult to work with pen-intended forms... but that is exactly what I need to do.

             

            The blank fill-in lines are already there on the form. I cannot edit the "look" of the form in any way without going through a long bureaucratic process... so the lines have to stay there.

             

            Before I even posted this question here I tried to define a single field, enlarge it over the entire area in quesiton, and set it to multiline. I thought that doing so would allow the response to wrap and fit into the field. This would definitely be acceptable. The problem is that I do not know how to control the spacing from one line to the next- or if changing that is even possible. When I set it to multiline and enlarge the text box, it wraps the way that text wraps here- tightly, based on the size of the font. I need it to wrap with additional space in between each of the lines, in order to compensate for the larger size of the lines that were originally intended for writing in responses.

             

            I want a 12pt font to wrap from one line to the next as if it was the size of perhaps an 18pt font... but I do not want to use an 18pt font because it is too huge. Is there a way to change the line spacing inside of a multiline text box without making the font huge? If so, then I can try out differently-sized line spacings and get it so that it lines up with the fill-in lines that are already on the page. That would be great!

            • 3. Re: Changing hand-filled forms into PDFs, fill-in lines are making it tough
              pguerett Level 6

              Line spacing can be set in the paragraph palette (activate under the window menu), but that wil be very painful. Why can't we remove the lines from the

              electronic version (or hide them until they are needed). Did you create the form such that each structure in word creates a new Designer object or did  you simply created an image of the form and lay fields on top (hence the lines are not individual objects).

               

              What if we created a rectangle that was white that would be put over top of the field with lines so that they were blanked out.....then we coudl control the visibility of the box depending on how we woudl use the form. That way you woudl not have to touch the source of the form but we may still accomplish what we want.

               

              Make sense?

               

              Paul

              1 person found this helpful
              • 4. Re: Changing hand-filled forms into PDFs, fill-in lines are making it tough
                Chris TMC Level 1

                I will explain to you how I set it up. If you think there is a better way for me to start off doing this in the first place that might allow me to bypass this problem, by all means please correct me! The way I did this is I pushed "create a new form," imported the old .doc file, auto detected form fields, and then I edited the auto-detected form fields into exactly what I wanted. It seems to just be an image of the form upon which I lay various form fields. The lines are pretty much nothing to Adobe, other than the fact that it "gets" that it is probably a good place for a text box (and it is corerct)

                 

                This might sound silly, but I do not know what you mean in regard to "creating the form such that each structure in word creates a new Designer object." The form I am working on right now as a trial is relatively new, but my company has a number of forms that are ancient- some made in the 90s- and many were created by people who did not know much at all about computers. (I am talking using spaces to move parts instead of tabs, etc.) I just want to feed these poorly constructed forms into adobe and give them easy-to-use fill-in boxes, check boxes, drop-down boxes, date boxes, etc- but still have the form look exactly like it does now (even though many are admittedly pretty bad looking lol.) I have had success doing all of that, apart from FIB lines like this:

                 

                Additional Details: ______________________________________________
                ______________________________________________________________
                ______________________________________________________________
                ______________________________________________________________

                My employers want one single, simple version of a form sitting up on the server. They want it so that people cannot edit things they way they presently can with all these .doc forms. They want a form that can be (A) filled in electronically and printed (B) printed blank and then entirely filled in with a pen later on or (C) a combination of the two ((C) is going to be most common, since we have departments who get the printed version with some of it electronically filled in and then they fill in the rest with a pen.) I cannot have different versions depending on what people are going to do, because nobody will understand that. Let's just say I do not work in a tech-savvy environment. Let's put it this way I am the one trying to move their forms out of 1992 technology and I am here looking for help lol.

                 

                It is too bad that adjusting the line spacing is so painful or difficult to accomplish. I really would have thought that would be my best bet to fill in an area like the one above.

                 

                I find the idea of a conditional white box somewhat interesting. I guess that might work IF the box only shows up in the background if a person enters text into that particular text field. However, there might be some real concerns that the "look" of the form has changed- and they might not accept what I do because of that. I have been specifically told that the "look" of the form cannot change in any way. My goal is to modernize what is already outdated- if I get them comfortable doing things electronically, then hopefully as forms are reconcepted in the future, we can move into making modern forms that do not have to adhere to these old-fashioned conventions.

                 

                -Chris

                • 5. Re: Changing hand-filled forms into PDFs, fill-in lines are making it tough
                  pguerett Level 6

                  Sounds like you are starting in Acrobat and then calling Designer from there. This technique will turn the doc into a PDF then will try and discover where fields shoudl go and place them there.

                   

                  There is another technique where the document is interpretted and native objects in Designer are made. Depending on how well the document was created will dictate how good a job of translation can be done. You can use this technique by opening Designer first then doing a File/Open and choosing the Word Doc. A macro will run inside of Designer and will interpret your Word file. Your results will depend on the complexity of the original form. In using this technique each word, line, box becomes an XFA form object and can be manipulated in Designer (by hand or by code).

                   

                  In the 1st technique only the fields that you lay on top can be manipulated. Try it and see if the conversion is acceptable to you. If so it will give us more flexibility in solving your issue.

                   

                  Lets start there - can you send a sample converted form and I will have a look at possible solutions for you. If you are interested send the form to LiveCycle8@gmail,com

                   

                  Paul

                  • 6. Re: Changing hand-filled forms into PDFs, fill-in lines are making it tough
                    Chris TMC Level 1
                    ...opening Designer first then doing a File/Open and choosing the Word Doc. A macro will run inside of Designer and will interpret your Word file. Your results will depend on the complexity of the original form. In using this technique each word, line, box becomes an XFA form object and can be manipulated in Designer (by hand or by code)...

                     

                    I tried this- but things such as the header and other objects seem to have shifted or they have boxes around them which render them unreadable. Either way, it does not keep the form exactly as it looks now... so it is unfortunately not acceptable for what I am trying to accomplish. I guess that means the document was created poorly, but that is no surprise to me lol. And this is one of the better ones, even- so there you go!

                     

                    I just sent you the pdf version I created that is most acceptable, except for having to tab through the multiple text box lines.

                     

                    -Chris

                    • 7. Re: Changing hand-filled forms into PDFs, fill-in lines are making it tough
                      Chris TMC Level 1

                      $.rawValue = num2date(date(), DateFmt(1))

                       

                      This works! It prints the date where I put the box.

                       

                      How do I add: "This document was printed on" right before the date and have those words only show up when the document is printed, as well? The way I have tried it, the words are always sitting there... and that isnt what I want, I only want to see them when the document is actually printed. The answer is probably very obvious, Im just not seeing it!

                       

                      If I can get this to work, it would at least be something. It wouldnt be the exact thing my supervisor wants, but it would be close.

                       

                      Looks like this person here is looking to do the same thing as I am trying to do-except they are adding the 7-day part, I just want to say, "Document printed on [todays date]" Unfortunately, I just cant seem to follow what it is saying.

                      • 8. Re: Changing hand-filled forms into PDFs, fill-in lines are making it tough
                        pguerett Level 6

                        On the prePrint event you can add the code:

                         

                        $.rawValue = concat("This document was printed on: ", num2date(date(), DateFmt(1)));

                         

                        Paul

                        • 9. Re: Changing hand-filled forms into PDFs, fill-in lines are making it tough
                          Chris TMC Level 1

                          $.rawValue = concat("This document was printed on: ", num2date(date(), DateFmt(1)));

                           

                          Whoo!