Stefan Cameron on Forms
Building intelligent forms using Adobe LiveCycle Designer

Field Background Color Fill

Did you know that you can quickly set the background fill color of a field via script using the


property? This can be very handy if you want to highlight a field for some reason. The property takes an RGB color value as a string: "255,0,0" would give a red fill.

What you may not realize is that fields actually have two areas: The "nominal extent" represents the entire field, including the caption, while the "content extent" represents only the data input portion of the field. There’s a difference between setting the fill color of one vs. the other.

The Nominal Extent Fill

When you set the fill color using the "fillColor" property, you’re setting the fill color of the nominal extent’s border property. It’s actually a shortcut:

TextField1.fillColor = "255,255,0"; // yellow

is equivalent to this:

TextField1.border.fill.color.value = "255,255,0";

Here’s a text field with no fill:

And here it is after setting its "fillColor" property to yellow:

(On a side note, you may notice that the field now has a border and you’re probably wondering where it came from. See this article for an explanation and what you need to do to get rid of it.)

The Content Extent Fill

So how do we set the fill color of the content extent without filling the entire field? The content extent’s fill color is specified within the field’s content extent (or "UI", in XFA terms) border and is accessed like this:

TextField1.ui.oneOfChild.border.fill.color.value = "0,200,0"; // green

(If you’re wondering what the "oneOfChild" property is, see this article.)

The result of the above line of script on the initial text field is as follows:

For example, you could use the content extent fill color as a way to communicate to someone that a field is disabled (by setting its content extent fill color to light gray (230,230,230)).

Finally, you can combine the two as follows (this being the combination of setting both the nominal and content extent fill colors):

Posted by Stefan Cameron on March 14th, 2008
Filed under Scripting,Tutorials
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14 Responses to “Field Background Color Fill”

  1. Mark J on March 27th, 2008

    This is a great tutorial, i was just trying to figure out how to do this.

    Is there a way to keep the fields colored on the screen but when the document is printed via a print button, remove the coloring so it doesn’t show on the printed document?

    thanks again, I’m going to implement this today, no more questions on which field to fill in. I’ve found it difficult to educate everyone to use the high light fields button.

    Mark J

  2. John Nesbitt on March 27th, 2008

    You can attack this is two ways (I think!):

    1) Set the “relevant” property on the border to “-print” (this will keep it visible on the screen but won’t print it….essentially like the “Visible (Screen Only)” option on the object itself). Please see Stefan’s article on version specific implementations first though ( However, I think this will actually remove the whole border so it might look a little odd when printing.

    2) You could try to reverse the script in the “prePrint” event, then execute it again in the “postPrint” event.


  3. Mark J on March 28th, 2008

    thanks for the reply John. I have been messing around with your first idea and i cant seem to figure out how to apply the relevant “-print” to the fill color and not the object, granted I’m not the most experienced coder but I’ll continue to work on this and research using your second suggestion. I appreciate your help but if you can think of anything else i would appreciate some more input.

    thanks again,


  4. John Nesbitt on March 30th, 2008

    No worries Mark, try this:

    yourFieldName.ui.oneOfChild.border.relevant = “-print”;

    Let me know if that doesn’t work.

  5. John Nesbitt on March 30th, 2008


    Sorry, I just tried out that script and also referenced the LC Designer Reference document and it looks like a fill can’t be given a relevant property – sorry!

    The script I gave earlier only removed the border’s edge (I assumed it applied to all of the border’s child objects and therefore the edge and the fill would not be printed).


  6. Mark J on April 3rd, 2008

    Thanks John,

    I appreciate your efforts and time with trying to help me solve this. We will have to just live with the colors being printed until i can come up with something else but if you think of anything else i would appreciate more input. thanks again.


  7. John Nesbitt on April 3rd, 2008

    Reversing the script in the prePrint event will definitely work – give that a go if you still want to remove the colour.

  8. E. Loralon on February 20th, 2009

    Hi Stefan,

    Is it possible to change object type for instance textfield to drop-down list at runtime?

    Thank you for your help.

  9. Stefan Cameron on February 20th, 2009

    E. Loralon,

    Unfortunately, you can’t change the object at runtime. The best you can do is show/hide the appropriate object or use the instance manager to add/remove the appropriate subform that contains the object you want to use (better for data binding).

  10. E. Loralon on February 20th, 2009

    Thank you Stefan.

    Actually, I had the show/hide solution working and thought there might be a more elegant solution to accomplish the same thing.

  11. Abu Saleh on September 3rd, 2009

    Hi Stefan,

    How do you reference the visual properties of non-interactive objects in Adobe LC Designer?

    I need, for example, to fill a circle (or rectangle) in solid, linear, or radial format (with start and end colors).



  12. Stefan Cameron on September 13th, 2009

    Abu Saleh,

    Setting a fill on a circle or rectangle is a little tricky. In this case, the XFA object will look like this (for a circle or rectangle):


    When setting a solid fill, you need to set the following XFA structure inside the <arc> or <rectangle> value type node:

    <fill presence="visible*">
        <color>R,G,B</color><-- start -->
        <linear type="toRight*|toLeft|toTop|toBottom">
            <color>R,G,B</color><-- end -->

    (* = default)

    The problem is that, initially, none of those nodes exist so you need to create them.

    Here’s a sample script that sets a linear to-right fill on a circle object:

    // JavaScript:
    // create start color
    var startColorNode = xfa.form.model.createNode("color");
    startColorNode.value = "255,0,0"; // red
    // create end color
    var endColorNode = xfa.form.model.createNode("color");
    endColorNode.value = "255,255,0"; // yellow
    // create linear node for fill type
    var linearNode = xfa.form.model.createNode("linear");
    linearNode.type = "toRight"; // start on left, end on right
    linearNode.nodes.append(endColorNode); // add end color
    // create fill node for arc (circle)
    var fillNode = xfa.form.model.createNode("fill");
    fillNode.nodes.append(startColorNode); // add start color
    fillNode.oneOfChild = linearNode; // add fill type
    // remove old arc fill (if any) and set new one
    if (Circle1.value.arc.resolveNode("#fill"))

    For a radial fill, you need to set the following XFA structure inside the <arc> or <rectangle> value type node:

    <fill presence="visible*">
        <color>R,G,B</color><-- start -->
        <radial type="toEdge*|toCenter">
            <color>R,G,B</color><-- end -->

    (* = default)

    The code would therefore be very similar to the example above, creating a new radial node rather than a linear node.

    For the solid fill case, the XFA structure is much simpler:

    <fill presence="visible*">
        <color>R,G,B</color><-- start -->
  13. Neha on June 8th, 2010

    Hi Stefan,

    How can we set the background color of all the fields in a particular subform based on a dropdown value.
    Do we need to go field by field or do we have a script to access all fields in a subform with nested subforms.


  14. Stefan Cameron on June 16th, 2010


    Yes, you have to do it field-by-field, recursively into all containers. My Process All Fields script can help you with that.