The Holy Grail Has Been Found – Create Forms Fields in InDesign

*Update #4

TomaxxiFORMS is now updated to 1.4. This update adds support to print and reset buttons by adding -prn and -rst. However, the script does not create a print or reset button via the normal Acrobat method, instead, it uses JavaScript. Because of this workaround, all fields are reset.

Another new feature is the ability to set multi-line text fields by adding the extension -txm.

In addtion, if there is more than 1 field with the same name, just first field is created,
and others are deleted automatically, but there is alert if that happens. It also corrected a few small issues with radio button groups.

The IDML and PDF have also been updated.

*Update #3

TomaxxiFORMS is now updated to 1.3. This new update fixes the tab order problem. The script will now change the tab order to by row in Acrobat. The other news is that you can now create radio button groups. Name each button with a unique name to start, followed by _rad and then another _group name. Ex – mac_rad_computer or win_rad_computer

I have also updated the IDML and PDF assets to include radio buttons for your own testing.

*Update #2

There is a now another update to the script available here and the other links in the article. This update adds an icon and a version number, 1.2.

If you are using Acrobat X, you can now to run an action instead of having to install the JavaScript. To install the action, download the script and sequence and unzip into a folder. Next, go to file > action wizard > edit actions. In the dialog, click import and browse to the sequence file. The next time you want to convert your buttons into form fields, go to file > action wizard > tomaxxiFORMS and the script will run.

*Update #1

I woke up with morning with an email from Marijan who has updated the script. Apparently, tool tips are transferred. The next part is the best, we can now setup other form fields with the following codes.

_txt – text field
_chk – check button
_rad
radio button
_sig – signature
_lbox – list box
_cbox – combo box


Last month at the InDesignSecretsLive Print & ePublishing Conference Tony Harmer presented an amazing feature request to Adobe via a poem during his ignite presentation. Like a lot of users, he had been waiting for native form field creation inside InDesign, but at the conference Adobe didn’t really seem to provide much of an answer other than ” file a feature request”.

After feeling hopeless about this feature, I kind of forgot about it until a few days ago when I came up with an idea. Since it is possible to create buttons inside InDesign and have them transfer without any issues, why not run a script inside Acrobat that looks for buttons and convert them into text form fields? I sent a message to Marijan Tompa, an author of many amazing scripts, and asked him if it was possible for Acrobat to do this via scripting. After explaining my idea to him, he sent me a prototype script in 15 min!

Over the new two days we worked out some bugs, but now we are ready to share it with you. At the end of the article I have links to download the script and a sample form via a IDML and PDF.

How the Script Works

Begin by designing your form as normal inside InDesign. When you are ready to create the form fields, I recommend that you create a layer for the form buttons.

Next, draw empty frames (no formatting) wherever you would like text fields to be in your layout. After creating all of your text fields, convert each of them into a button. It is not necessary to give them any attributes like actions or appearances.

Creating InDesign Buttons form form creation

Name each button with the text field name that you would like (Phone). However, you need to add an underscore followed by txt after the name. (Phone_txt). This _txt is what the script will look for when it converts it into a text field. The script will ignore the buttons that do not have _txt in their filename.

InDesign Layers panel with buttons names

Exporting to PDF

After finishing the layout, export your form to an interactive PDF. In the export options, be sure to create a tagged PDF. The most important thing to remember is to “Include All” under Buttons and Media, otherwise the buttons would not be included.

Installing the script

In order to run the script, you will need Acrobat Pro. I have tested the script on Acrobat Pro 9 and X.  After downloading the script and unzipping, just copy the script to the following folder depending on your OS and Acrobat Version. You might need to restart Acrobat in order to run the script.

Acrobat 9 – Mac

Applications > Adobe Acrobat > right click or ctrl-click on the software icon > Display package > Contents > MacOS > JavaScripts

Acrobat X – Mac

Users > [user account] > Library > Application Support > Adobe > Acrobat > 10.0 > JavaScripts

Acrobat 9 – PC

Program files > Adobe > Acrobat > JavaScripts

Acrobat X – PC

Program Files > Adobe > Acrobat 10.0 > Acrobat > JavaScripts

Running the Script

Now that you have the script installed, open your PDF in Acrobat Pro. When you run the script, it will only take a second or two and all of your buttons with _txt will now become text form fields. Be advised that the script will add another underscore to the name of the field

Example: Phone_txt will become Phone_txt_

In Acrobat 9, go to the tools menu and you will see tomaxxiFORMS. Select this option to run the script.

acrobat 9 pro tomaxxiFORMS script

In Acrobat X, click on tools and at the bottom, open up Add-on Tools and you will see the tomaxxiFORMS script. Click on the script to run it.

Assets

TomaxxiFORMS Script version 1.3 (unzip after downloading)

Acrobat X Action

IDML Form (for testing)

PDF Forms (start and end)

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Comments

65 Comments on “The Holy Grail Has Been Found – Create Forms Fields in InDesign

  1. Is there any way to style these form elements in InDesign before exporting to Acrobat? I’m trying to figure out how to control leading on multiple line text boxes, how to define square radio buttons and control font colours and sizes in InDesign so I don’t have to redo them every time I want to make some changes to what is a 12 page form with hundreds of fields.

    Any help would be greatly appreciated.

  2. What are the export settings for PC user for Acrobat X. I have tried several different settings and none seem to relate to the script. When I use the sample pdf the script works great. SO my assumption is that I am not using the correct export settings from Indesign CS5.5 PC platform. Any help would be AWESOME!

  3. Hi there,
    I did the first steps to install this script but when I get into acrobat I do not have the option for Add-on tools.

    I am in acrobat x, can you help?

  4. I am having the same problem.

    I’m running Acrobat Pro X (10.1.2) under Windows XP, Service Pack 3.

    I really need this for a tight deadline so any help would be greatly appreciated.

    David.

  5. Figured it out. Feeling a bit dumb. I copied the wrong file over.

    Ashley, make sure you download the tomaxxiFORMS script, not any others.

    It’s a bit confusing because the link takes you to a general download page and the forms script is not the first one on that page.

    Too many late nights or blonde roots? :-)

    I have about 50 forms to get out in a month and I was worried about the lack of exact positioning in Acrobat. This tool is going to save me a lot of headaches. I’m very grateful to the author for creating it and being willing to share it.

    Thanks,
    David.

  6. Is there a way to add the script without dropping it in Applications > Adobe Acrobat > right click or ctrl-click on the software icon > Display package > Contents > MacOS > JavaScripts.

    Reason being I need to work with forms but I haven’t got admin rights to drop the js file there?

    cheers

  7. I would love to make adonation for a script that would allow me to have an image field in an Acrobat X Pro form (mac). I need the end user to be able to click on a box to add a picture.

    Here’s hoping . . .

  8. I have created the form fields and made them editable but the script isnt allowing me to save the document – only print it. Any hints or do i need another script?

    Thanks

  9. Tried it in Acrobat 9.5 and 11

    9.5 (script showed up but nothing happened
    11 the Add-on Tools option is gone and I cannot find the script.

    any help is appreciated.

  10. Got it to work in the 9.5 I missed the Button step.

    AWESOME!

    I was able to edit it in 11 once the scritpt ran in 9.5 but still cannot find the script in 11

  11. After I download and extract the files I attempt to import them into Acrobat X. But when I open Import no script files are found in that folder. It is looking for *.sequ files but finding none. When I attempt to just double-click the script it opens in Dreamweaver. I must be doing something wrong.

  12. Hi,

    I’m trying to make a folio where users can comment and rate various places (like yelp) is there anyway i can use a similar form like this but instead of submit it will be a comment button. Once comment button is pressed that content will be add to the page?

    thanks in advance,

    anthony

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