Stefan Cameron on Forms
Building intelligent forms using Adobe LiveCycle Designer

It's almost here: A book on Designer!

I’ve lost count of how many times, over the past year, I’ve been asked if there was a good book on designing forms using LiveCycle Designer. Until now, the answer was always an unfortunate “no”.

Well, I’m very happy to announce that J.P. Terry from SmartDoc Technologies has been hard at work over the past few months on a book titled, Creating Dynamic Forms with Adobe LiveCycle Designer.

Based on some of the chapters I’ve reviewed so far, this is going to be an excellent resource for those of you who might not know where to start or perhaps would like a few pointers on good form design. I, for one, am really excited about this since it’s the first (of hopefully many more to come) book about the product and technologies I work on every day. It’s almost like a milestone — Designer’s first book.

No word yet on a specific release date but I’ll keep you all posted as I get more details over the coming months.

So how about you? Are you looking forward to a book on Designer and dynamic forms?

Posted by Stefan Cameron on May 18th, 2007
Filed under Books,Designer,Instance Manager,Scripting,Tables,Tutorials
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13 Responses to “It's almost here: A book on Designer!”

  1. Ken on May 21st, 2007

    Finally! A Book! That sounds great. btw How was the Symposium? Also, do you have a short tutorial on connecting to a web service? I was trying to work with a web service at and I keep getting a ‘couldn’t post data to”.’ error. Thanks…

  2. Rick Kuhlmann on May 21st, 2007

    It is nice to hear that there is going to be a book about Designer. The questions I have are:
    1. What level of knowledge is the book being written for?
    2. Will there be more extensive documentation/samples/tutorials on writing javascript? (If not my partner and I would like to give that a go).

    Lastly, We have been waiting very patiently for the XFA 2.5 Specification. Is this going to be released or with ES coming has all documentation around 8.0 been tabled?


    Rick Kuhlmann

  3. J.P. Terry on May 22nd, 2007


    The book will have a chapter on Scripting but it will not be entirely dedicated to scripting. I am trying to write it for the first time user without dumbing it down.


    J.P. Terry

  4. Stefan Cameron on May 22nd, 2007


    The BFMA Symposium 2007 was a great opportunity to get some one-on-one time with customers that use Adobe LiveCycle Designer. I was so busy with meetings that I didn’t get to attend as many sessions this year as at the previous symposium and I think that’s a good thing!

    I was able to come back to my team with both positive and negative feedback (both are equally welcome), bug reports and feature requests. This will be timely information for us to have as we start working on what comes next…

    As for a tutorial on connecting to a web service, I figured I would break down and write one since many others have been asking about web service connections in Designer as well. Please let me know if you found it useful.

  5. Stefan Cameron on May 22nd, 2007


    I trust you noticed JP Terry’s earlier reply to your questions about his book.

    As for the XFA 2.5 spec, I’ve contacted one of my colleagues with respect to your question. I’ve been anxiously awaiting it’s public release as well. I’ll be posting to my blog about its release the minute I know it’s available.

  6. Ken on May 24th, 2007


    Thanks for the web service tutorial. It was excellent and worked too! Now I just have to write the web service! We want to verify a reg and pin and bring back a name on a form so I think this will work good for us. We don’t want to have anyone able to get to our database either. I guess Forms Server is the way to go for something like this, but it’s not in the budget right now.



  7. Rick Kuhlmann on May 29th, 2007


    Thanks for doing some digging on the 2.5 XFA Spec. I lieu of the total document is there a way to get the additions and subtractions from the 2.4 to the 2.5 XFA? Most likely a smaller document.

    As an old BFMA’r (past chapter president in MN) I was sorry to miss the chance to meet you and to collaborate with you and other users. Maybe next year…

    To Mr Terry,

    Glad to hear that you are putting something on scripting in your book. One of the areas that I would like to see addressed (and that is why I asked and then volunteered), was to see if there would be some documentation regarding the basics of JS. For example: Loops, If-Then statements, etc. Also some examples of how to’s: How to turn on a text field when a radio button is checked.

    I ask this as these kind of questions seem to be asked many times over on the forum. The forum has gotten much bigger over the last year or so and it can be difficult to find answers. I would submit to you and to Stefan that maybe now would be a good time to harvest the most common problems and publish a tutorial. I thought maybe your book would be a good place…

    Thanks for all you do, I really appreciate it!

    Rick Kuhlmann

  8. Nat Mara on May 30th, 2007

    I ,too, am eagerly waiting for this book to come out. Currently reading Ted Padova’s Adobe Bible and it has a small section regarding LiveCycle Designer but I would like more information about it. I am a NOVICE, and we will be rolling out Adobe 8 Professional to some forms designers in our organization. The key features we love about Adobe is how easy it is to convert existing Word and Excel forms. Most forms are pretty basic, however there are some calculated fields and I would like to know how to set those up in Livecycle Designer. I am not sure if it is easier using formCalc or JS.

    thanks in advance,

    Nat Mara

  9. Stefan Cameron on May 30th, 2007


    My hands are tied as far as anything related to the XFA 2.5 spec goes. I’m even having trouble obtaining information related to its publishing from my own colleagues — very frustrating!

    We’ll have to wait to hear the official word from the folks at BFMA but, apparently, the next BFMA Symposium will be in Las Vegas. That should be quite the interesting venue! Maybe we’ll have a chance to meet then.

    Thanks for pointing-out some of the areas people are struggling with. I’m not sure exactly what JP’s book will cover but I’ll make note of these and try to post some tutorials on my blog about them. Incidentally, have you seen the articles I posted a while ago on conditional and loop syntax in FormCalc? These articles also demonstrate the equivalent JavaScript syntax. If there are other statements you would like me to write about, please let me know and I’ll add them to my collection of FormCalc/JavaScript articles.

  10. Stefan Cameron on May 31st, 2007

    Nat Mara,

    FormCalc was developed specifically to be familiar to those used to spreadsheet calculations like those you do in Microsoft Excel. While you can do calculated fields using either scripting language, you’ll probably find FormCalc more familiar than JavaScript if you’re used to working with spreadsheets.

    For example, let’s say your form has fields which calculate the subtotal, taxes and then a grand total based on 3 numeric fields containing costs for various items. You would put the following FormCalc script in the subtotal field’s Calculate event (using the Script Editor palette, available via the top-level Window menu):

    NumericField1 + NumericField2 + NumericField3

    For the tax field, you would use a script similar to this one:

    SubTotal * 0.14

    This would set the tax field to 14% of the value of the subtotal field.

    Finally, the grand total field’s calculation (in its Calculate event) would simply be the following:

    SubTotal + Taxes

    With these calculations setup, if you change the value set in any of the 3 numeric fields, the subtotal, tax and grand total field values would automatically be updated to reflect the change in the subtotal of the items being purchased.

  11. J.P. Terry on May 31st, 2007

    Nat and Rick,

    Thanks for your kind comments and I will take your input into account. If you’d like to preview a sample chapter (PDF) e-mail me at I would like to hear your comments on the chapter.

    We will have a section featuring common scripts for common problems. However, it will not be a JavaScript-specific book so it will not cover all of the basics of JavaScript. It will include some but it will be more focused on how to use JavaScript with the XFA Document Object Model. If you are looking for a good book that covers all the basics of JavaScript, check out “Beginning JavaScript 2nd Edition” by Paul Wilton. He covers all of the basics of JavaScript but he only does so in relation to the HTML DOM and not the XFA DOM. If you have a copy of Paul’s book and a copy of my book, you will be able to write useful scripts for your forms. – JPT

  12. Rick Kuhlmann on June 6th, 2007

    Mr. Terry,

    I have tried to send you and e-mail regarding your offer to preview a sample chapter. However the e-mail listed comes back as incorrect.

    In any event I would love to see a chapter. My e-mail is

    Rick Kuhlmann

  13. Stefan Cameron on June 6th, 2007


    I noticed that WordPress is automatically formatting what it thinks is Mr. Terry’s email address and in so doing, it’s including the period in the email address. It’s possible you might have picked-up the period and attempted to send him an email to an incorrectly-formatted address.

    I’ve corrected the problem by explicitly placing a link around his email address so that this doesn’t happen again.