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Indesign Interactive PDF: Acrobat replaces designer checkbox/radio button icons with generic icons

New Here ,
Nov 02, 2020

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Hi guys

 

I am writing this more as a plea to the Adobe gods rather than any expectation that a solution exists. In fact, I have spent most of the day trying to find a solution online and the best answer so far is 'bad luck that's the way it is'.

 

Anyway, after spending a fair bit of time building an interactive pdf in InDesign and adopting my own custom, branded icons for radio buttons and checkboxes, when I go to test in Adobe Acrobat Pro DC, I discover that Acrobat replaces all of my icons with its generic versions. Yes, I have gone to Prepare Agreement>Right click on icon and select properties then go to Options but there is no setting that turns off the Acrobat icons. So I am basically stuck with them.

 

Remember, this is the world's premier design software, beautifully crafted where all the parts talk to one another really nicely. But as you are travelling down the Adobe highway, you hit a really big pothole with a sign next to it that reads (Microsoft was here).

 

Please do not start being Microsoft and fix this glaring oversight or else the clever programmer that thought up all these cool interactive tricks within InDesign will have been totally shafted by the Acrobat development team (which I suspect has a rogue Microsoft employee lurking about the place.)

 

Now I'm guessing this may have something to do with backwards compatibility with Adobe Reader but in any case, I have uploaded a screen shot and one of the pdf pages so can see what I mean.

 

Best regards

Bren

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Indesign Interactive PDF: Acrobat replaces designer checkbox/radio button icons with generic icons

New Here ,
Nov 02, 2020

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Hi guys

 

I am writing this more as a plea to the Adobe gods rather than any expectation that a solution exists. In fact, I have spent most of the day trying to find a solution online and the best answer so far is 'bad luck that's the way it is'.

 

Anyway, after spending a fair bit of time building an interactive pdf in InDesign and adopting my own custom, branded icons for radio buttons and checkboxes, when I go to test in Adobe Acrobat Pro DC, I discover that Acrobat replaces all of my icons with its generic versions. Yes, I have gone to Prepare Agreement>Right click on icon and select properties then go to Options but there is no setting that turns off the Acrobat icons. So I am basically stuck with them.

 

Remember, this is the world's premier design software, beautifully crafted where all the parts talk to one another really nicely. But as you are travelling down the Adobe highway, you hit a really big pothole with a sign next to it that reads (Microsoft was here).

 

Please do not start being Microsoft and fix this glaring oversight or else the clever programmer that thought up all these cool interactive tricks within InDesign will have been totally shafted by the Acrobat development team (which I suspect has a rogue Microsoft employee lurking about the place.)

 

Now I'm guessing this may have something to do with backwards compatibility with Adobe Reader but in any case, I have uploaded a screen shot and one of the pdf pages so can see what I mean.

 

Best regards

Bren

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Edit and convert PDFs, PDF forms

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Nov 02, 2020 0
Explorer ,
Nov 02, 2020

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I do not understand why in the world you're blaming Microsoft for Acrobat's default icons and PDF functionality. This has nothing to do with Microsoft.

 

The situation is caused by Acrobat's default icons, which are a lot more than just their visual appearance; they have a ton of programming behind them that make them work across all versions of Acrobat, as well as in other PDF rendering programs, such as those by FoxIt and Nuance. Much of this is controlled by international standards for the programming of all PDF files, no matter who makes them...Adobe, Microsoft, FoxIt, etc.

 

It's a waste of time to create your own icons for form buttons; instead, use the default icons and adjust their appearance in Acrobat Pro to better suit your design aesthetic. That's:

  • Select the icon.
  • Right-click / Option-click and select Properties
  • And follow the tabs at the top to change the color, shape, size, or symbol used for that form field.

 

Although in theory, you can do many of these adjustments in the INDD layout before you export to interactive PDF, the reality is that the conversion to PDF doesn't always give what we want. In other words:

 

Quote: "this is the world's premier design software, beautifully crafted where all the parts talk to one another really nicely. [ed, ha ha ha!] But as you are travelling down the Adobe highway, you hit a really big pothole with a sign next to it that reads (Microsoft was here)" [ed, Adobe was here.]

Design + Accessibility | Author | Designer | Programmer | Trainer

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New Here ,
Nov 02, 2020

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Hi Desinah

 

It was a tongue-in-cheek dig at Microsoft. Being a graphic designer from the 1980s onwards I have had to endure working in Microsoft applications to try and create compelling design and it was like going back to the clay tablet and chisel. So, to make it clear, I am not blaming Microsoft for this just comparing their clumsy user experience and lack of creative options to working as a designer in Microsoft products (which have their place in the technosphere).

 

Also, I don't deny or discredit all the work that programmers have done to make Acrobat work for as many people and functions as possible. My gripe is that we are offered these wonderful design solutions that in reality cannot be realised. It's just such a shame. It's nice to know that after the fact that, quote 'It's a waste of time to create your own icons for from buttons". 

 

But thanks for the tip. I will now proceed with the Comic Sans tick icon provided in Acrobat and perhaps perform a miracle such as changing it's colour close to something in my brand colour pallete.

 

Bren was here! 🙂

 

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Adobe Community Professional ,
Nov 02, 2020

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Hi

I have been starting all of my forms in InDesign since CS6 and I don't know why this is happening for you. It has always worked properly for me.

 

The custom radio buttons and checkboxes are groups in InDesign, so you can double-click to get inside the group and change the fill, the stroke, the center circle of the radio button, and the color of the checkmark. Acrobat recognizes the formatting, but you can't change it in Acrobat — you have to change the formatting in InDesign and export again.

 

Plus InDesign has Object Styles that make the formatting easy and quick!

 

A few questions:

  • What exact version of InDesign?
  • What exact version of Acrobat?
  • What OS?
  • Are you exporting to a Print or Interactive PDF?
  • What settings are you using for the joboptions? If it says "modified", show screen shots.
  • When you export, look in the upper right. What version of Acrobat are you exporting to?

 

If we can't solve it with these questions, can you copy a couple of fields into a new InDesign document and post a link to that? You can share it in Creative Cloud or use Dropbox. 

 

Hahaha, I love your "Microsoft was here" attitude when things go wrong. We have higher expectations for Adobe, and this made me laugh!

 

~ Jane

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New Here ,
Nov 02, 2020

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Hi Jane

Thanks for replying

I think the problem is that I have introduced my own eps graphics, imported from Illustrator. I linked an orange version of the icon as Normal off and linked a blue one for Normal On. I also placed the same orange icon within a background layer because it dissappeared when rendered in Acrobat.

 

So that is most likely the issue; I will need to use the radio buttons and checkboxes in InDesign and colour them appropriately. And no problem amending in InDesign and exporting again...I would rather avoid editing in Acrobat if I can help it.

 

I am working in InDesign 2020 15.1.2 and Acrobat Pro DC 2020.012.20048

I tried installing illustrator and indesign 2021 but it keeps crashing - I'll wait for the bugs to fixed.

I am running Mac OSX Catalina 10.15.5 (weird things happen when I install .6, probably because my iMac is from 2011)

I'm exporting to an interactive PDF

Not sure what you mean by job options so I have provided some screen shots of the Export dialog box (for interactive pdf) so you can point out what you mean. This is a reference on one of the screen shots about Acrobat 7 

 

Let me give it another go and I'll let you know how I fair.

 

PS appreciate that you get my sense of humour!!Screen Shot 2020-11-03 at 12.47.58 pm.pngScreen Shot 2020-11-03 at 12.47.44 pm.png

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Adobe Community Professional ,
Nov 02, 2020

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Hi @logozuu 

If you had been anywhere on my block, you would have heard me laughing! I'll have to remember the Comic Sans line. 😊

 

Your graphics are fairly simple. If you are using Place for the Illustrator files, try one with Copy from Illustrator and Paste into InDesign and see if that works.

 

~ Jane

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New Here ,
Nov 03, 2020

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Thnx Jane. Glad I could make you chuckle.

I'm surprised that the four tick options in the sample check-boxes feature practically the same tick design!! I tried a test tick box with a sample InDesign tick that I colored green. After it exports to Acrobat and I click on the check box, my green tick turns up but when I tick on another check box, my green tick is replaced with Acrobats black tick.

However, I will give the Copy/Paste trick a go as well.

 

rgrds

Bren

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Adobe Community Professional ,
Nov 02, 2020

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Acrobat doesn't support custom icons. Don't edit/change the form in Acrobat.

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Adobe Community Professional ,
Nov 03, 2020

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"Acrobat doesn't support custom icons."

 

@Bernd Alheit 

Here is the Adobe Help page for creating forms in Adobe InDesign and exporting to PDF:

https://helpx.adobe.com/indesign/user-guide.html/indesign/using/forms.ug.html

"For a radio button, check box, or buttons: set appearance attributes for different states. InDesign adds default graphics for the various states, but you can add your own."

 

As I said in my earlier post, there is a limitation: "Acrobat recognizes the formatting, but you can't change it in Acrobat — you have to change the formatting in InDesign and export again."

 

~ Jane

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New Here ,
Nov 03, 2020

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Thanks Jane

 

I read this article and keep trying until I get a result that I'm happy with 🙂

 

cheers

Bren

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New Here ,
Nov 03, 2020

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Appreciate the response, Bernd

 

My suspicions are that there is no work around and that Acrobat will override all indesign checkbox settings. I am going to have to reconcile with black ticks and radio buttons 😞

 

rgrds

Bren

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Adobe Community Professional ,
Nov 02, 2020

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You can use those nice buttons provided by InDesign in a PDF form under only one condition: never edit them with Acrobat Pro, that's what turns them into normal PDF buttons and icons.

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Explorer ,
Nov 03, 2020

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Regardless of what Adobe's help page says, the reality is that custom icons for form elements are flakey as heck. For example, if used for radio buttons, the interactivity between the selections goes haywire, even when defined correctly in both InDesign and Acrobat.

It's just way too much time and PAIN to use your own icons. You'll have a form that won't work correctly for maybe one pair of checkboxes, and you'll tear your hair out trying to determine what's going on.

So. Not. Worth. It.

I'd rather spend my time designing.

 

 

Design + Accessibility | Author | Designer | Programmer | Trainer

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New Here ,
Nov 03, 2020

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Thanks JR

 

Okay so this is a call out to anyone in management for Adobe (maybe the Ed)

 

I need to know why you would right the following line in the official Adobe help file that Jane provided above when it clearly does not work:

 

For a radio buttoncheck box, or buttons: set appearance attributes for different states. InDesign adds default graphics for the various states, but you can add your own.

 

I have selected the basic sample check boxes and radio buttons that InDesign provides and changed the appearance with basic color applied to the stroke and fill. However, Acrobat replaces everything with it's generic black tick or radio button. I have tried every possible way and nothing works. 

 

I cannot set the appearance attributes for different states without them being replaced entirely by Actrobat and  I cannot add my own no matter what despite the help document telling me otherwise.

 

I am defeated 😞

 

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Explorer ,
Nov 03, 2020

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The Acrobat engineering team is aware of this deficiency. I have no idea when it will be corrected.

In my forms class, I give students this list:

  1. If you change the background color of a form field, most likely it won't be that color on every user's computer. Their personal preference settings in their version of Acrobat will override anything you have set.
    • Recommendation: just let it be the default Acrobat blue for form fields.
  2. If you set a specific font to be used in a text form field, the end user might not have that font and something else on their computer system will be substituted. This is true even if you embed the font into the PDF when you create it. The user must have a licensed version of that particular font installed on their computer in order to use it in a document, even in a form field in a PDF. This is due to the copyright restrictions of the font's manufacturer.
    • Recommendation: in form fields, stick with the default Times and Helvetica. These are usable by the end user per a license that is included with their version of Acrobat. No copyright problems, no missing character problems, either.
  3. If you create a specific appearance of a form field (color file and stroke), it may or may not appear that way to all users. Depends upon their version of Acrobat, or their version of another PDF-rendering software program, or whether they're viewing it via a browser plug-in, or whether they viewing it in a PDF-like rendering program such as Apple Preview (which is not a compliant PDF viewer/renderer).
Design + Accessibility | Author | Designer | Programmer | Trainer

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