Create an interactive pdf with expanding text-fields from scratch

I posted about Making text fields grow to accommodate text last month and here in the office we’ve found that it would be nice to have the process documented step by step.

  • 1. Open Adobe LiveCycle Designer

    1. Open Adobe LiveCycle Designer

  • 2. Create a new form

    2. Create a new form

  • 3. Follow the steps in the New Form Assistant

    3. Follow the steps in the New Form Assistant

  • 4. Save as a dynamic pdf

    4. Save as a dynamic pdf


    This is an important step so I prefer to save now. “Save early and save often!”
  • 5. Set up your layout

    5. Set up your layout


    This is a look at all the window panels I have displayed. The following are a screenshots of the most relevant ones.

    • 5b. Layout - open Hierarchy panel

      5b. Layout - open Hierarchy panel

    • 5c. Layout - open Object Library panel

      5c. Layout - open Object Library panel

    • 5d. Layout - open Object panel

      5d. Layout - open Object panel

    • 5e. Layout - open Paragraph panel

      5e. Layout - open Paragraph panel

    • 5f. Here's a screen shot of my workspace with all the panels exposed

      5f. Here's a screenshot of my workspace with all the panels exposed

  • 6. Now you’re ready to build your form. The Object panel contains the tools you need. Find the Text Field object.
    • 6. Add a text field from your object panel

      6a. Add a text field from your object panel

    • 6b. Drag the text field to the screen

      6b. Drag the text field to the screen


      You don’t need to worry about size and caption position at this point. We’ll do that later.
  • 7. Make that form flow
    • 7. Edit subform object - select the subform that contains the textfield in the Hierarchy panel

      7a. Edit subform object - select the subform that contains the textfield in the Hierarchy panel

    • 7b. Edit subform object - in the object panel -> subform tab, set the content to Flowed and check the Allow Page Breaks box

      7b. Edit subform object - in the object panel -> subform tab, set the content to Flowed and check the Allow Page Breaks box

  • 8. Text field layout
    • 8. Text field layout - set the caption position - top

      8a. set the caption position - top

    • 8b. Text field layout - check the Expand to fit box

      8b. check the Expand to fit box

    • 8c. Text field layout - update the height and top margin and caption reserve

      8c. update the height and top margin and caption reserve

  • 9. Text field object field properties - Check Allow multiple lines and Allow Page breaks

    9. Text field object field properties - Check Allow multiple lines and Allow Page breaks

  • 10. Save your form

    10. Save your form

  • 11. Test your form!

    You can open the form in Acrobat Pro or Reader, but if you’d like to stay inside LiveCycle then you can configure some settings to accommodate dynamic pdfs in the preview window.

    To use the preview window: follow these steps (from Stefan Cameron’s ‘Previewing as dynamic pdf’).

    In Designer, there are two different locations containing settings which affect the type of temporary PDF file created when you click on the Preview tab:

    1. Under the “File Options” section within the “Document Handling” panel of the “Tools | Options” dialog,
      11b. Seting up preview - Options

      11b. Setting up preview - Options


      you can set the Default File Type for New Forms. This type is used on new forms which you preview prior to saving (because Designer doesn’t know which format you’ll use at the time of preview). This is set to a static PDF format by default.
      11c. Options Document Handling - Default Type

      11c. Options Document Handling - Default Type

    2. Even if you’ve specified a dynamic PDF format for the Default File Type for New Forms, this setting may be overridden by the Preview Type and XDP Preview Format properties in the “File | Form Properties” dialog in the “Defaults” panel once you’ve saved your form.
      11d. File -> Form Properties

      11d. File -> Form Properties


      The Preview Type property, set to “Interactive” by default, determines whether the form will be previewed as an interactive (dynamic) form or as a print (static) form. This property supersedes the PDF format. The XDP Preview Format property usually picks-up the Default File Type for New Forms setting and determines what PDF format will be used to preview your form should it be saved as an XDP. (Note that if you’ve saved your form as a PDF file, then the XDP Preview Format setting is ignored).
      11e. Form Properties -> Defaults - Dynamic XML Form

      11e. Form Properties -> Defaults - Dynamic XML Form

    Now that we’ve covered the different properties which affect the PDF preview format, here’s how to kick that flue I was talking about earlier (so that you actually do preview in a dynamic PDF format and stop pulling your hair out):

    1. If you haven’t saved your form, make sure the Preview Type is set to “Interactive” and that the Default File Type for New Forms is set to a dynamic PDF format. You may also want to set the XDP Preview Format to a dynamic PDF format while you’re at it.
      11f. Form Properties -> Preview - Dynamic XML Form

      11f. Form Properties -> Preview - Dynamic XML Form

    2. If you’ve saved your form as a dynamic PDF, make sure the Preview Type is set to “Interactive”.
      11g. Form Properties -> Preview - Preview Type - Interactive Form

      11g. Form Properties -> Preview - Preview Type - Interactive Form

    3. If you’ve saved your form as a static PDF, none of these settings will help you. You must first save your form as a dynamic PDF.
    4. If you’ve saved your form as an XDP, make sure the Preview Type is set to “Interactive” and the XDP Preview Format is set to a dynamic PDF format.
    5. If you’re tired of running into these problems and want to avoid them in the future, just set your Default File Type for New Forms to a dynamic PDF format.

    Save your form

    12. Save your form

That should do it.
Now you can go back and text and other objects. Feel free to copy the text-field you just created if you need more of those.

Comments
  • Tron says:

    Thank you so much for this tutorial. I didn’t even know the keyword to search for when looking on the internet to make a form fillable expandable form. This tutorial not only spells it out for you it also gives pictorials to ensure you know what to do. I followed the instructions and the form worked perfect. Thanks again. Tron

  • Keith says:

    How can I do this to an existing PDF?

    • vid@uoregon.edu says:

      Hi Keith; I don’t know of a quick or easy way. It was an arduous process when trying to make an existing PDF created from a word doc flowable, to the point that it wasn’t worth the effort.
      If you’re going to tackle it, the concept is the same and you’ll have to walk through the hierarchy of the current form in LiveCycle Designer, editing the form and sub-form elements and possibly their objects, adjusting the positioning of each to work for your form. See step 7 above. Good luck!

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