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Interactive PDF form usability question

Participant ,
Dec 15, 2022 Dec 15, 2022

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As one who enjoys creating script enhanced interactive PDF forms, I really didn't know what forum to choose to post this question so I apologize if I chose the wrong one and if so please let me know otherwise. This aside, to begin I recall well over 20 years ago reading an excellent book authored by one Joel Spolsky, an MS employee at the time, pertaining to software application usabilty testing. Given the number of years that have passed, I would think that many if not most of Joel's suggestions focusing on usability might be considered dated and not applicable today other than for adhering to the KISS method (Keep It Simple Stupid). This noted, as I'm sure most would agree there exist a number of ways to accomplish a specific task regardless of what it may be, it's also apparent that some methods are far better than others. With this in mind, I was hoping to obtain some feedback from those of you that work with interactive PDF forms regarding your thoughts about using a combo box or list form field as opposed to creating a script to provide a custom popup menu. As I have used both, I am trying to figure out what the determining factor should be when trying to decide between these two options for providing the end user a list of choices in an interactive PDF form. Any thoughts/suggestions regarding this subject matter are most appreciated. Thank you ahead of time.    

TOPICS
Create PDFs , How to , JavaScript , PDF forms , Standards and accessibility

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Community Expert ,
Dec 15, 2022 Dec 15, 2022

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Comboboxes are a permanent feature of the form with a specific location, and any changes made to the combobox are saved with the form. Popup menus are ephemeral and appear at the location of the cursor, even if it's off document. Nothing about the popup menu is automatically saved. 

 

Comboboxes only display a linear list of plain items. Menus can display a tree of items with options for marking and enabling specific items. 

 

Comboboxes will work with any PDF viewer that implements form fields. Popup menus are will only work with viewers that implement JavaScript, and the popup menu functions. 

 

Each one has it's uses.

Thom Parker - Software Developer at PDFScripting
Use the Acrobat JavaScript Reference early and often

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Participant ,
Dec 15, 2022 Dec 15, 2022

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Am aware of most of what you said. Point taken. However, I am more
concerned from a user standpoint, hence the question. I am contemplating
having some individuals I know preview the form once completed to give me
their input regarding ease of use, suggestions for features, improvement,
etc. What I believe hasn;t changed much over the years is that I don't
think I require more than a half dozen or dozen people at most to Beta test
the form for me, What say u?

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Community Expert ,
Dec 15, 2022 Dec 15, 2022

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From a usability standpoint I'd say to use the combobox when the selected data is linear and part of the form, which it is for the selected name of the password data. But if there were a set of operations, then it would be appropiate to have a menu button that displayed a list of operations.  However, for your application I'd use individual buttons for the operations because there is enough room for them on the form. Buttons are much better if there is room for them. 

 

 

Thom Parker - Software Developer at PDFScripting
Use the Acrobat JavaScript Reference early and often

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Participant ,
Dec 16, 2022 Dec 16, 2022

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Thank you. Just the kind of answer I was looking for. On another note, I sent a message using the form provided on your pdfscripting site but have yet to receive a response regarding the Starbucks coffee question.

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Participant ,
Dec 16, 2022 Dec 16, 2022

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One last comment regarding usability. Not to be redundant but what if I were to include both the popupmenu and combo box on the form giving the user more than one option to perform a given task? Believe it or not, if I were just to provide the combo box, I actually only need to provide one button or 'delete' to delete a name/record from the form. As for adding a new name or editing an existing name/record, the combo box provides both whereby updating oVendors to compensate for adding or editing a name along with its associated properties/values can be done transparently once the user adds a name or edits and existing names associated field values. Your professional opinion regarding this suggestion is appreciated?    

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Community Expert ,
Dec 16, 2022 Dec 16, 2022

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Providing more than one way to perform an action is usually a good thing. You just don't want to confuse the user by having too many ways to do the same thing.  That's why I like buttons, they are intuitive and straight forward.  I think the best UI for item selection is the Combobox, but there's no reason you can't also have the popup menu. 

 

 

Thom Parker - Software Developer at PDFScripting
Use the Acrobat JavaScript Reference early and often

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