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Acrobat Forms: Populating fields across documents

Posted on 2004-09-09
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Is it possible to fill in a customer's name and address in form fields in one pdf document and then have that information automatically populate name and address fields in 3-4 related pdf documents? All these have separate file names.

Or is it necessary to create a single pdf from these multiple files in order for this to work?

Thank you for your assistance.
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Question by:goodmorals
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Expert Comment

by:Karl Heinz Kremer
ID: 12021971
There are ways you can do this across document boundaries, but it's much easier if you have all the pages in one document. Let's talk about the second - simpler - option first: All form fields that share the same name will automatically inherit the data that you set the field on the first page to. So, let's assume that you have a form field to hold the customer name on the first page (let's call this "customerName"). If you now create form fields with the same name on all pages that also need to show the customer name, the customer name will automatically be propagated to all these fields.

The other option is much more complicated. But, there are again simper and more complicated options. The most straight forward option is to store the information that you want to share across the documents in a global JavaScript variable. Your other documents would then reference this global variable to initialize these fields. The problem with this is that if you fill out the first document twice for two different customers, only the last entered information will be available to the other documents.
The next option is a bit more complicated: You create a web server that stores the data you've entered for the first document. Your documents 2..4 are then opened via the web server, which would send the FDF (forms) data to the client, which in turn would request the specific document to be opened.
And, to make things a bit more complicated and more interesting :-) you can store the data in a ODBC accessible database from the first document, and then use the same database to populate the fields in the following documents.

Depending on how you actually fill out and process the forms, I would merge the individual documents if possible.
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Author Comment

by:goodmorals
ID: 12023063
Am I correct that a person using Adobe Reader will not be able to access a global Javascript variable as opposed to a document-level variable?
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Expert Comment

by:Karl Heinz Kremer
ID: 12023227
You can actually set and retrieve global JavaScript variables with Reader.

One thing you have to keep in mind however (and this also applies to the full version of Acrobat). Adobe limits the amount of data that can be stored as global JavaScript variables to 4KB. This means that if other applications already use up 3.99KB, you will not be able to store your variables.
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Author Comment

by:goodmorals
ID: 12026632
How does one set and retrieve global JavaScript variables with Reader?

Would this be a method of entering name and address info in one form and having it populate to another?

I am leaning to combining all the forms into one file and then using bookmarks off a menu page to  jump to the one needed.

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Accepted Solution

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Karl Heinz Kremer earned 700 total points
ID: 12030975
You would use something like this:

global.myVariable = 1;
global.setPersistent("myVariable", true)

Then, to use this variable, just use this:

doSomething(global.myVariable);

It's the same for Reader as it is for the full version of Acrobat.

Yes, this would be a method to bring information from one document into your other documents (with the limitation that I listed above).

I would probably combine the three documents into one. It's much easier to use, and less error prone.
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