Share/distribute a fillable interactive PDF - Issues on filling interactive PDF

Explorer ,
Jan 17, 2022 Jan 17, 2022

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I love the ability to create a fully customized interactive form with InDesign. However, it doesn't matter how strong this feature is if nobody can properly fill my form. I've tried many times to send my interactive PDF via email (as a file attachment) to clients, but there is always an issue: some don't have their Acrobat up to date and simply can't fill the file, others will use Preview which won't display some of the interactive fields properly, etc.

 

I wonder if there is a possibility to share/host my interactive fillable PDF online somehow, which would allow me to send a link to my clients to access and fill the PDF directly on their browser? If not, can I request this feature somewhere? (Yes, I'm desperate...)

I've tried the Publish Online feature but the interactivity disappears with it.

 

Thank you for any tips you may have!

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Feature request , Publish online

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Adobe Community Professional ,
Jan 17, 2022 Jan 17, 2022

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jotform.com is an online form solution that you can convert pdf forms to online forms, collect response data, and send hyperlink of form to recipients.

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Explorer ,
Jan 17, 2022 Jan 17, 2022

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Thank you, but the issue with these third-party apps (like Google Form or PDF Escape) is that I would have to re-do entirely my document and loose all the layout and design that I've done in InDesign, which is what I would like to keep.

I tried uploading my PDF to Jotform, it detected pretty good all my fields, but the entire layout is gone.

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Adobe Community Professional ,
Jan 17, 2022 Jan 17, 2022

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And the issue with using what you've already done is that it doesn't work in most PDF readers.

This is not even close to being an InDesign issue. It's a "form over function" issue but suit yourself if you want to fight this battle.

That may sound cold but it's the way it is.

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Explorer ,
Jan 18, 2022 Jan 18, 2022

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Actually, I was just inquiring if there is an Adobe solution that I didn't know of regarding this topic since they are developing more and more online features. I thought the Publish Online feature from the Indesign export menu might be the beginning of a solution (and I wanted to select both Indesign and Acrobat but wasn't given the possibility so I chose to post on the area where I found all the questions regarding interactive PDF, which was Indesign).

Sorry if you found my question offending somehow, that was never my intention, I thought that this community was the place to ask for advice when in need for help...

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Adobe Community Professional ,
Jan 18, 2022 Jan 18, 2022

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No offence has been taken, and you have seemed to have received lots of suggestions and comments about this important and complex issue.

 

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Adobe Community Professional ,
Jan 17, 2022 Jan 17, 2022

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You're pointing out all the limitations of interactive PDF. It only works well on desktop apps with Adobe Reader or Adobe Acrobat. Viewing in a browser or third party app has no consistency and doens't work.

 

Publish Online doesn't work because it is HTML based, not PDF based.

 

I suggest looking into in5 from Ajar Productions:

 

https://ajarproductions.com/pages/products/in5/features.php

 

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Adobe Community Professional ,
Jan 17, 2022 Jan 17, 2022

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AFAIK know you can't include interactive forms in in5 documents.

They may have changed it, but in 2020 I asked Justin and he replied:

Right now, I recommend embedding a Google Form (or similar):

How to Include a Submittable Form in Your InDesign Document

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Explorer ,
Jan 17, 2022 Jan 17, 2022

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This is very interesting, thank you for sharing!

@Derek Cross scrolling down on the link that Steve shared, it seems that they now support most buttons & form from the Interactive panel. I'll dig deeper into this. Thanks!

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Adobe Community Professional ,
Jan 17, 2022 Jan 17, 2022

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Contrary to the others here, I will repeat, again, my usual advice. Forget InDesign; Forget Acrobat.

If you need a form filled out in a browser, just create an HTML form and do it the right way. If it's a Wordpress site there are scores of form plugins with far more power than anything you can do with InDesign.

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Adobe Community Professional ,
Jan 17, 2022 Jan 17, 2022

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Bob, curious what wordpress form plugins are you using successfully? I know this is off topic, but there are issues with wp forms that I have encountered, everything from unwanted spam, to email notification not working.

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Adobe Community Professional ,
Jan 17, 2022 Jan 17, 2022

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I’ve tried most of the biggies. Gravity is pretty good as is formidable but I hate Contact Form 7. Lately, I’ve taken to using the native form element in Avada which is the only theme I’ve used for the last 5 years.

 

There’s not a ton you can do to completely eliminate spam but with captcha and a honeypot field I’m not seeing anywhere near what I used to get including my own site which I just re-designed with that theme. Emails not sending could be anything including totally overzealous spam filtering or a hosting issue.

 

I’ve seen this recommended but I haven’t needed to go this far: How to Configure Your WordPress SMTP Settings (The Easy Way) (wpmailsmtp.com)

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Adobe Community Professional ,
Jan 17, 2022 Jan 17, 2022

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Thanks for the info, Contact Form 7 is the plugin that I've encountered a number of issues and will try Gravity.

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Adobe Community Professional ,
Jan 17, 2022 Jan 17, 2022

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CF7 is awful. For the life of me I don't understand why it's so widely used.

Gravity and Formidable, I think, both have free versions. Way easier to style, too.

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Explorer ,
Jan 17, 2022 Jan 17, 2022

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Yes, I've thought of this as I want to keep my form branded and not lose the design, however, my questionnaire is around 20 pages and an alternance of texts, images and fields (which is why InDesign was perfect as it offers full customization of the layout). Therefore, I am afraid that a huge form like this on a website would not be convenient (especially if the user can't save his progress) and splitting it into 2-3 different forms is not ideal too. And with the form module on my WP site (I use the Divi builder), I'm limited with the layout.

I guess I'm just disappointed that I'm paying a full Adobe CC license, I can design the perfect form with Indesign, BUT I just can't really use it...

 

I'll check the form plugins you mentioned that I don't know already. Thanks for your opinion!

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Adobe Community Professional ,
Jan 17, 2022 Jan 17, 2022

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You could place a disclaimer on form that states:

Form must be downloaded, and opened in the FREE Acrobat Reader application. Also provide a link to Reader download page.

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Explorer ,
Jan 18, 2022 Jan 18, 2022

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Thank you, yes that's a good idea while searching for a permanent "fix" to my issue

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Adobe Community Professional ,
Jan 18, 2022 Jan 18, 2022

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It's not a solution and I can assure you it will lead to pain for you and your client. Are you also going to provide explicit directions on how to return the filled in form as well? You're not providing a service to the client if there are barriers to getting this form filled out.

 

Seriously, I'm going to repeat this one more time and then I'll leave it alone...give it up. I get that you've poured a ton of work into this, but chalk it up to a lesson learned and move on. 

 

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Adobe Community Professional ,
Jan 17, 2022 Jan 17, 2022

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>>>some don't have their Acrobat up to date

>>>others will use Preview

>>>I guess I'm just disappointed that I'm paying a full Adobe CC license,

 

You are designing the form you want.

Your users are out of date. How is that Adobe's fault?

David Creamer
Adobe Certified Instructor, Adobe Certified Professional, and Adobe Certified Expert (since 1995)

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Explorer ,
Jan 18, 2022 Jan 18, 2022

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I'm disappointed that every solution that I found with Acrobat required a paid subscription (like Adobe Sign) from my client's end, whereas I'm already paying a full license. I expected that one party paying would be enough, hence my frustration because I was certain I would find a solution within all the CC apps (like hosting my form online to share it easily).

As I said previously, I just find it disappointing that we can build powerful interactive files, but we can't really share them, as I would be if I could create a great design with Ps or Ai or whatever, but couldn't share the final exported file for my client to see.

 

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