Web Form Design
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Frequently Asked Questions
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What is a PDF?
PDF stands for Portable Document Format which is an open standard for electronic document exchange. This format allows users to view, share, and print the document, even if they lack the original software and system used to create the document. Converting documents to PDF allows other users to view your documents exactly as you specify and unlike printed documents, PDF files can contain clickable links and buttons, form fields, video, and audio — as well as logic to help automate routine business processes. When you share a PDF file, virtually anyone can read it using free Adobe Reader software or the Adobe Reader mobile app.
What are the benefits of converting paper forms to electronic format?
The key benefits of converting paper forms to electronic format are:
- Reduces printing, distribution, storage, and processing costs associated with paper forms
- Reduces or eliminates time-consuming and error prone paper-based processes
- Improves office workflow and productivity by streamlining and reducing form processing times which in turn enhances customer service
What software do you use to design the PDF forms?
Depending on your form requirements, we use either Adobe Acrobat, Adobe LiveCycle or a combination of both to design your form.
What are the differences between AcroForms (Acrobat) and XFA forms (LiveCycle) forms?
- Does not require higher version of Acrobat Reader
- Combines into a regular PDF and make it appear seamless
- Multi-media files can be easily integrated
- Based on older AcroForm technology
- Has .pdf as file extension, deployable as PDF only
- May require additional software for form design/authoring
- Form can be edited using interface only
- Has less field types
- Fields and pages are fixed size
- Can’t handle repeatable data (ie. a line on an order form)
- Connection to database requires scripting
- Connection to web services is not available
- Ability to add static barcodes
- Convert MS Word document to static PDF with no fields
- Requires at least Acrobat Reader version 7.05
- Combines form into regular PDF as an attachment
- Multi-media files cannot be integrated
- Based on newer standard - XML architecture
- Has .pdf as file extension, deployable as PDF and HTML
- Complete form-authoring application
- Form can be edited using both interface and XML
- Has more field types
- Fields and pages can be dynamic/expandable
- Can easily handle repeatable data (ie. a line on an order form)
- Connection to database without scripting
- Connect to web services (WSDL) without scripting
- Ability to add dynamic barcodes
- Converts MS Word document to PDF form with fields
Can these PDF forms be put on my website?
You can place these PDF forms on your web site for your clients to download and fill in online or print it and fill in offline. Completed online forms can be submitted via email and/or if you have a server-side script on your web server, the forms can be sent there too. Completed offline forms can be mailed, faxed or delivered in person to your business location.
How does one submit completed forms via email?
A button can be put on a form that is preconfigured with the recipient(s)' email address(es) with a subject line. When the button is clicked on, a dialog box appears asking the user to select which email client (ie. desktop client such as Outlook Express and web-based client such as gmail) to use. After the selection, a new message prefilled with the recipient(s)' email address(es), subject line and the PDF form as an attachment. The user can add/change text in the body of the email as s/he sees fit then click the Send button to email the message.
Can forms be submitted to Dropbox?
Forms can be configured to send via email to any email address. It is possible to send to Dropbox, however, it will require additional free 3rd party service such as https://sendtodropbox.com.
How does the server-side script work for form submission?
Similar to the email method, a button can be put on the form that goes to a web site where the server-side script resides which sends the PDF directly to a folder on the web server. The script also sends a message to a specific email address to notify you of the submission. From there, you simply click the link to access the form on the web server. This method provides seamless interaction to the user, however, you would need a web server/host that is able to run php scripts, has a mail server and a writable folder.
Can I use these PDF forms with any PDF viewer/reader?
It is best that you use the free Adobe Reader to ensure the form functions as intended as other viewers/readers may not support all the features that were used in designing these forms.
What are the differences between PDF forms and web (html) forms?
- Renders consistently independent of browser type and version
- Easy to duplicate the look and feel of existing paper forms
- Works on or off line - file based
- No backend server tools/support requires
- Requires extra software to use
- Usually bigger file size, longer to load
- Form submission is indirect – via email or mail/fax (direct is possible with programming)
WEB (HTML) FORMS
- May render differently depending on a browser type and version
- Difficult to duplicate the look and feel of existing paper forms
- Works online only – server based
- Requires server support
- Does not require extra software to use
- Usually smaller file size, quicker to load
- Form submission is direct to server