7 Replies Latest reply on Apr 15, 2011 10:02 AM by George_Johnson

    problems with unrestricted fill in forms

    Richard P. Welty

      i am using OpenOffice to create a fill in form. the security is wide open as i want folks to be able to fill in and save the form.

      with Preview on Mac OS X, this is working fine, i can save and then reopen and the fields are filled in. With Adobe Reader on OS X (9.4.3 and 10.0.1 have both been tried), i can fill in but am being told i can't save the form.

      if i fill in and save a form with Preview, then open it with Reader, the filled in fields only become visible when i select them. haven't explored any further, but this sure seems like a bug somewhere.

        • 1. Re: problems with unrestricted fill in forms
          ~graffiti Adobe Community Professional & MVP

          No bug.

           

          In order for a fillable form (PDF) to be saveable in Reader, you need to add form fields and specially enable the file using Acrobat.

           

          You may be abloe to do some typing in Preview but once the form is saved, it's ruined in both Reader and Acrobat.

          • 2. Re: problems with unrestricted fill in forms
            Richard P. Welty Level 1

            i have to say that this seems odd. i've done some programmatic processing of pdfs before using iText from Java, and the notion of special knobs accessible only from acrobat doesn't seem terribly compatible with what i know of the internals of pdf security and the notion of the pdf file as an open standard.

            • 3. Re: problems with unrestricted fill in forms
              George_Johnson MVP & Adobe Community Professional

              The bug is with Preview. It has rather limited support for PDF forms and in fact corrupts them when it is used to save them, as indicated above. It's crazy that PDF forms have been available since Acrobat 3 but that Apple cannot (or refuses to) get it right. For a bit more information, see: http://kb2.adobe.com/community/publishing/885/cpsid_88564.html

               

              Adobe introduced usage rights quite a while ago (Acrobat 5.1?). They unlock features normally not available in Reader, such as saving a filled-in form. Non-Adobe software is free to do whatever it wants as far as editing and saving a PDF, even ignore the security restrictions. Some do allow more than Adobe Reader, such as FoxIt Reader, which allows saving a filled-in form and adding annotations.

              • 4. Re: problems with unrestricted fill in forms
                Richard P. Welty Level 1

                ok, i understand preview might have a problem. there's a reason why i was deliberately vague about bug, i didn't specify what was buggy.

                 

                but even so, i'm creating a fill in pdf using openoffice, and exporting the pdf version without restriction (including no password). reader (both 9.4.3 and 10.0.1) won't let me fill it in and save it, but will let me fill it in and print it.

                • 5. Re: problems with unrestricted fill in forms
                  Richard P. Welty Level 1

                  as far as usage rights go, i'm somewhat familiar with those, having done some work manipulating pdfs programmatically as part of a consulting gig at bank of america. and it's not strictly true that non-adobe software is free to ignore them; in fact, if you turn security on, then you also get a bunch of encryption stuff going.

                  what i am not understanding is why adobe reader is enforcing a restriction that i didn't request when i exported the pdf. again, i'm being vague about where i think the issue is because maybe it is open office's fault.

                  • 6. Re: problems with unrestricted fill in forms
                    George_Johnson MVP & Adobe Community Professional

                    but even so, i'm creating a fill in pdf using openoffice, and exporting the pdf version without restriction (including no password). reader (both 9.4.3 and 10.0.1) won't let me fill it in and save it, but will let me fill it in and print it.

                     

                    For what it's worth, it has always been that way with Reader since form features were introduced with Acrobat 3. The usual quip is "It's a Reader, not a Saver." The introduction of usage rights was a step forward, since they allow Reader to save.

                    • 7. Re: problems with unrestricted fill in forms
                      George_Johnson MVP & Adobe Community Professional

                      It is true that non-Adobe software is free to ignore security restrictions, assuming the software can read the file. The algorithm for reading files with standard security applied is published, so it's no mystery. PDF consumers (software that reads PDFs) are expected to honor any restrictions, but they do not have to.

                       

                      Reader is restricted not (just) by the security settings of a document, but because it simply does not have the functionality to save, unless the document has usage rights applied. You could create a PDF viewer that only displays the first page of any document is reads, and does not allow printing. The restrictions would have nothing to do with the document, but with the way the viewer is implemented. Same thing with Reader.