I need to simplify the extraction of csv data from a fielded pdf form

New Here ,
May 27, 2016 May 27, 2016

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I have a complex .pdf file with fillable fields. Once these are filled in, I want to extract the data in the fields, for insertion into a database.

I know that I can use Prepare Form, then More|Export Data... will create an .fdf file. Then I can use Merge Data Files Into Spreadsheet... to generate a .csv file that contains all the fielded data. Then I've written some code to extract this data and put it into my mssqlserver database.

There are several steps involved and I would like to streamline them as much as possible.

Beginning at the beginning.

1. When I select Export Data, I am presented with a dialog that uses "Test Adobe_data.fdf" as a default filename. Can this default be changed? Can it default to the name I used last time?

2. When I select Merge Data Files Into Spreadsheet I am presented with a dialog requesting the file. Can't it default to the .fdf  file I just created? This dialog has a checkbox (Include most recent list of files to export data from) but I don't want the most recent list, I want the .fdf file that I just created as the default. Also, this whole procedure is geared to "merging" data files. I just want to "merge" one file! The only reason I'm using this is it seems to be the only way to convert the .fdf to a (pseudo)-fielded) .csv file.

3. When I click "Export" from the dialog, I have to retype the name of the .fdf file, since that filetype is not a part of the "save as type" so I can't make the name reappear.

4. This step ends with yet another dialog (Export Progress) with a View File Now and Close Dialog buttons. I have to click Close Dialog.

This seems like a lot of steps, and it will be harder than it should be to train someone to step through these procedures.

Is there a better (simpler  way?

Thanks.

roricka

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Acrobat SDK and JavaScript, PDF forms, Windows

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correct answers 1 Correct Answer

Most Valuable Participant , May 31, 2016 May 31, 2016
You call each click a "step"? That's a bit of a stretch...Anyway, are you exporting the values from a single file, or from multiple files? If a single file then this task can be scripted, yes, and the script can be attached to a button that can be triggered using a single click.If multiple files then it's much more complicated and would require using an Action and a button, and I don't think it will save you any "steps", compared to the original functionality.

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Most Valuable Participant ,
May 27, 2016 May 27, 2016

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You don't need to use FDF files at all. The "Export data from multiple forms" dialog accepts PDF files directly. Just select your files and they'll be processed and their data will be merged directly.

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New Here ,
May 31, 2016 May 31, 2016

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Hi,

Thanks, but how does this eliminate any steps? It's still four clicks, whether I Save As... or Export Data. So you're right, the Merge Data Files Into Spreadsheet... will take a .pdf or a .fdf, but why are there so many steps to then get this into a .csv:

1. Prepare Form

2. More

3. Merge Data Files Into Spreadsheet...

4. Add Files

5. Double-click the file

6. Export

7. Save

8. Close Dialog

And if any navigation is required to the save folder, add a couple more steps.

I want one step that will export the fillable data into a .csv file, using the name of the saved .pdf. Or two steps. Or three steps. But twelve steps???

So here's a question (probably for another thread, but maybe you can give me a heads up): I notice there is a javascript API that for Acrobat. The most recent version I can find is 2008.

1. Can this be used with Acrobat Pro DC?

2. What is the API used for? Can I use it to simplify this process (assuming the form is being filled out via a web browser)?

3. How do I obtain support for the API? No one I've spoken with at Adobe has much info about this.

Thanks,

Roricka

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Most Valuable Participant ,
May 31, 2016 May 31, 2016

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You call each click a "step"? That's a bit of a stretch...

Anyway, are you exporting the values from a single file, or from multiple files? If a single file then this task can be scripted, yes, and the script can be attached to a button that can be triggered using a single click.

If multiple files then it's much more complicated and would require using an Action and a button, and I don't think it will save you any "steps", compared to the original functionality.

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New Here ,
Sep 29, 2020 Sep 29, 2020

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I'm having a similar issue and think you might be able to help... When I "Merge Data Files into Spreadsheet" some data is not getting extracted properly.

 

The PDF form is a rubric, with checkboxes behaving as radio buttons. The form is typically completed by an instructor, saved as a .pdf or printed to pdf, then sent to me. When I load the rubrics into the Merge wizard all of the textbox data comes through correctly but the checkboxes all display "Off" even if they were checked.

 

If I open the .pdf in Acrobat and re-select all the checkboxes, then merge to spreadsheet, the checkbox values are returned. It's not really feasible to ask all the various instructors to only complete the form via Acrobat (when web/Chome works easily). Is there something I'm missing or doing wrong?

 

Thanks so much in advance!!

 

 

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Most Valuable Participant ,
Sep 29, 2020 Sep 29, 2020

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> It's not really feasible to ask all the various instructors to only complete the form via Acrobat (when web/Chome works easily).

 

This is the crux of the matter. It's easy to use these plugins because they are usually the default ones in the browser and will just open the file when you click it, but you shouldn't do it, exactly because of issues like the one you encountered. These plugins are usually sub-par, especially when it comes to form fields and scripts. If you want to avoid such issues instruct the users to download the file and then open it in Adobe Acrobat/Reader directly, and then it will work just fine.

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