University of Oregon

Concatenate fields in a Fillable form

Recently someone referenced an old blog post: use data from one field to populate other fields in an acrobat fill-in forms and asked me how to concatenate multiple field values into one.

So I put together a sample pdf.


Presentation tips & tools in OSX

I was at the Pacific Northwest Drupal Summit this past weekend as both a participant and presenter. I came away with some new information but some of it was less about Drupal and more about presenting.
Here are some of the tips & tools I’ll be using for future presentations; (more…)

Mailman as a bulk mailer – imported member managment tips

I have 20000 email subscribers for two email lists (cjobs and ucjobs). These were all imported into our new Mailman service.
I had a few settings I needed to change to accommodate using Mailman as a bulk mailer. And it’s going pretty well.
First there were normal things like pre-pending the default email subject, updating the list name and bounce protocols, making sure no-one can post to the list except the one authorized user (bulk moderate every user).
That was easy.

But then there’s a default setting where any list member can view all the other members of the list… not good.
First I updated the html docs, removing the relevant info.
Then I needed update all the users; but there’s no bulk operation for that.
Instead there’s a Member Mgmt screen with columns of check boxes. CheckBoxMate to the rescue…
Almost; Mailman displays a max of 30 members at a time… (20000 / 30 = ouch), that’s a lot of clicking and dragging. (more…)

Dealing with php 5.3 undefined index errors

I had an old php custom report that pulls data from a mysql db and I was getting “undefined index” errors when we moved to PHP 5.3.
This function helped:

But I also had to pre-set an array with all the default values.
Before I had

$totalColumn = array();

but now I had to set the default value for each column:

$totalColumn = array("minority_check" => 0, "count" => 0, "applicant_total" => 0, "Men_total" => 0, "Women_total" => 0, "men_women_total" => 0, "percent_of_women_to_total" => 0, "white_total" => 0, "white_plus_other_race_total" => 0,
	 "white_plus_other_race_AND_hispanic_total" => 0, "white_AND_hispanic_total" => 0, "multirace_AND_hispanic_total" => 0, "protected_class_AND_hispanic_total" => 0, "protected_class_but_not_white_AND_hispanic_total" => 0,
	 "declined_race_but_hispanic_total" => 0, "declined_to_ident_total" => 0, "declined_to_id_hispanic_total" => 0, "declined_to_ident_race_with_hispanic_total" => 0, "declined_to_ident_race_and_hispanic_total" => 0,
	 "declined_to_ident_race_OR_hispanic_total" => 0, "protected_class_total" => 0, "hispanic_total" => 0, "minority_total" => 0, "known_race_OR_hispanic_total" => 0, "percent_of_minority_to_total" => 0, "white_undeclared_minority_total" => 0,
	 "non_hispanic_total" => 0, "asian_total" => 0, "pacific_total" => 0, "black_total" => 0, "native_american_total" => 0, "multiracial_total" => 0, "multiracial_and_or_hispanic_total" => 0);

Nice service offering: Laptop Registration | UO Department of Public Safety

I saw this today and thought it was a great service. Now you can register your bike and your computer!

Laptop Registration | Department of Public Safety.

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.

PDF: making text fields grow to accommodate text

  • Note: 2-11-15 I updated this post today, noting an important difference between the 2 samples.
  • Note: 5-5-14 I updated this document today, adding another sample below.
  • Note: 1-25-11 I updated this document today, adding another quote from the original article and a quote about saving as a dynamic PDF.

Creating a dynamically expanding pdf is something that I’ve tried several times over the last two years with no success until now.
Google results are littered with the sad stories of others attempting this and being shut dow n.
I even contacted the instructor of the advanced Acrobat Pro/Live Cycle Designer course, to no avail.

The goal is to create a form that includes expandable text areas and when the they expand the rest of the content adjusts to accommodate them. Ideally these fields would even allow content to break across pages.

Along the way I would frequently find encouraging check boxes or form properties like “expand vertically” or “dynamic” vs. static pdf; nothing quite worked.
The check the box to allow text to vertically expand by itself is great, unless you want to print the form… the content that goes past the text box, is hidden and a plus sign denotes that something is there… Pretty much useless…

Last month I found an article by Stefan Cameron ( that described some script that allowed fields to grow horizontally to a max width. It seemed reasonable enough and I was impressed, but when I tried to apply the code to a vertical growth it merely expanded over the top of the content below it.
At that point I started creating code that capture the position and height of the previous element and move everything down the page when ever a text field expanded. That code didn’t go anywhere fast and it seemed like it was going to be a nightmare to find all the necessary functions and tags to achieve it.
I’m glad I abandoned that project.
Adobe provides examples of inserting new fields in documents and that the adjacent content in those documents moved out of the way as the fields were inserted. So I knew there was an internal function that allowed for some document flow, but what was it?
This week I was inclined to try again and upon revisiting Stefan Cameron’s site I found something that caught my eye: flowable layout. It seemed possible that we could achieve our goal.

Convert WordPerfect Drawing .wpg files to Adobe Illustrator files .eps

We have a dozen years worth of WordPerfect Drawing (.wpg) files and we’d like to get those into a mainstream format such as Adobe Illustrator (.eps or .ai) files.

I found a post that outlined a simple but labor intensive way to do it:

  1. Open the WordPerfect drawing and save it as a pdf.
  2. Open the pdf in Illustrator and extract the image
  3. Save the image as a new file

I also found a conversion program that can do it.
Image Converter Plus: The GUI version is $49 ( with a discount for Higher Ed.
It comes with a command line version as well (
Both can be used for free but a giant watermark is added to the file.
Both versions can batch and convert entire folders as well.

I’m inclined to try the command line.
Theoretically this code would convert all the .wpg files in a network folder (and subfolders) to .eps files and drop them into a new folder called ‘converted’.

ICPCL.exe -convertto eps thumbnail:Yes -source "share$myfolderimages*.wpg" -dest "share$myfolderimagesconverted" -save_opt convert_subfolders:yes restore_subfolders:yes

It may be nice to keep the files in their respective folders.
We’ll see how it goes with a couple of test runs.

How to restore your auto complete address in Outlook 2007

When you get a new computer you may discover your auto-complete addresses are missing when you compose an email. These address are stored in an nk2 file separate from your address book.

Assuming you still have your sent mail messages, you can try a few different methods of restore those. (more…)

Use data from one field to populate other fields in an acrobat fill-in forms

Update 10-16-2014; added a sample where two field values concatenates into one with ‘and’ as a separator.

I was just asked how to use data from one field to populate other fields in an acrobat fill-in form.
Turns out you just need to write a little javascript and add it to the action tab of the initial field in your form.

To begin let’s assume we’re using Acrobat Pro 8 or 9. If you use Live Cycle Designer for your form wizard, you’ll want to edit the form in Acrobat to follow these steps exactly.