Stefan Cameron on Forms
Building intelligent forms using Adobe LiveCycle Designer

Archive for July, 2008

Hyphenation and Advanced Text Formatting

With the release of LiveCycle Designer 8.2 came many new features. Stephanie Legault, from the Designer Team, has posted two very detailed articles on some new features on the team’s blog:

Posted by Stefan Cameron on July 28th, 2008
Filed under Designer

Adobe LiveCycle ES Update 1 Documentation

Since the release of Designer ES 8.2 and now LiveCycle ES Update 1, the documentation page has been updated with all sorts of goodies related to Update 1, including the following Designer-related documentation:

  • Scripting Reference (technical document about scripting your forms)
  • Target Version Reference (if you want to know what features are compatible with specific PDF versions or if you’re using Designer ES 8.2 to build a form for users on Acrobat/Reader 7.x and you want to make sure they can use your form)
  • Scripting Errors Reference (solutions to common scripting errors)
  • FormCalc Reference (for those of you who like to use FormCalc instead of JavaScript, this reference includes previously-omitted information about various language constructs such as “while”, “for” and “for each” loops)

Posted by Stefan Cameron on July 21st, 2008
Filed under Designer,FormCalc,Scripting

Auto-splitting text between two text fields

The scenario

You have a compliant form that has sections for users to fill-in information. Because the form is compliant (i.e. its layout has received the “stamp of approval” and cannot change without another lengthy approval process), the sections cannot grow (they cannot expand-to-fit all of the text users may fill-in). To provide more space for users to add more text, you’ve provided an expandable “overflow” section at the end of form since expanding that section will not affect the portion of the form which has been approved.

The problem

You need to capture the text entered into the form using an interactive Form Guide which is not limited to the restrictions of the form’s approved layout. As such, the Form Guide will capture the text in a single field and you need that text to be entered into the PDF version of the form. If you put all the text into the appropriate section on the form, it won’t fit and the text will be cut-off (e.g. it will not print entirely and you will miss some of the important information).

You need some way to automatically split that text between the small section in the form and the overflow section at the end of the form. In other words, you need to ensure that only the text that can fit within the small form section is placed there and the rest is placed in the overflow section at the end.

In Designer 8.2, the content of fields can now be split between pages however in this case, you can’t use this feature because the small form section can’t be expanded (it’s fixed in size).

The solution

This is the problem Stephanie, Glenn and I were faced with on a recent customer visit. Stephanie took the time to put this into a sample form which provides the script we wrote to handle this task. It’s basically a mini text parser written in JavaScript that splits text between two fields with a fixed-width font (e.g. Courier New, Lucida Console, etc.).

Posted by Stefan Cameron on July 10th, 2008
Filed under Acrobat,Designer,Form Guides,Scripting,Tutorials

Acrobat Pro 9 with Designer 8.2 now available!

You can now purchase Acrobat 9 Standard, Pro and Pro Extended. You can also download Reader 9.0. An updated version of Designer (8.2) is included with the Pro and Pro Extended versions.

I’ve been using Designer 8.2 for quite some time now (working at Adobe does have its perks!) and I must say it’s much more stable than 8.1 and has a lot of really nice, new features to offer such as:

  • major tab ordering UI update — we listened to your feedback and made this a whole lot better than it ever was before;
  • hyperlink support;
  • advanced text formatting with kerning, horizontal/vertical stretch, hyphenation, etc;
  • enhancements to the Fragment Library (you can now edit Fragment Info metadata without having to open the fragment and you can also delete fragments right from the Fragment Library);
  • contents of fields (text fields, numeric fields, etc.) and text objects can now be split across pages for a nicer layout;
  • authenticated web service support.

Those are only the highlights. There are many other little but very significant updates that I’ll be sharing in future blog posts so stay tuned and in the mean time, get the free trial and check it out!

Acrobat/Reader 9.0 also has a host of new features including:

  • native support for Flash (you can now embedded SWFs directly into your PDF documents);
  • assemble various files together into a cohesive, branded package called a PDF Portfolio;
  • and many more features that will enhance productivity and collaboration.

As usual, there are enhancements to XFA-PDF forms in Acrobat/Reader and I’ll be highlighting a few of those as well in future posts.

PS: Note that the standalone version of Designer has not been updated yet. I suspect it’ll be updated very soon however at this time, it looks like the only way to get Designer 8.2 is by downloading/purchasing Acrobat 9.0 Pro/Extended.

Posted by Stefan Cameron on July 3rd, 2008
Filed under Acrobat,Designer