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Integrating PDF Forms and Access Databases

Hi there fellas.  I am currently contracting for a company that does medical investigations.  For quite some time now they have been using a triplicate paper form to report the results of medical background investigations.  In addition, they log the search parameters and billing information into an Access database.  Every couple weeks they run a billing report using the database.  At the end of each billing cycle they have been binding the paper forms, the billing report, and an invoice which is then sent to the customer.  Well, the customer has recently expressed their need to go paperless, so my client asked me to convert the documents to PDF in the short term, then assigned me the task of restructuring the process to eliminate the paper form altogether.

I used Adobe Designer to recreate the paper form in PDF format; it took me some time but it looks really nice.  It is easy to navigate and enter data, but we are still dependent on the Access database for billing.  After the PDF form is filled out, I am still going to have to have them manually enter the data into the Access database.  I am beginning to think I got the cart before the horse.  

My questions are these:  Is there a way to create an Access database from the fields on the PDF form I created, then populate the database with a series of completed PDF forms?  Should I have created the Access table first, then an Access form for data entry, then populated the PDF form with data from the database?  Am I way off the mark on how something like this should be done?

If any of the above questions are true, how would you go about linking an Access database and the fillable PDF form?  I have never worked with ODBC or data connections before, so any thoughts, input, directions or ideas would be greatly appreciated.
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Hillyman
Asked:
Hillyman
3 Solutions
 
Scott McDaniel (Microsoft Access MVP - EE MVE )Infotrakker SoftwareCommented:
You can get to the elements of a PDF form, but it's difficult to do. There are various things to do, like use the Adobe SDK, or a 3rd party utility to get to those elements, but in general it would be preferable to manage those from an Access form instead of trying to integrate a PDF form into your Access database.
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OzxarCommented:
I had a similar problem of trying to get database info on a pdf form that we use on a daily basis. I found this link and it worked great. Here is the link http://datapigtechnologies.com/flashfiles/pictureinreport.html.
Hope this will help
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HillymanAuthor Commented:
Wow.  What a great idea!  Thankx Ozxar.  

If you don't mind I am going to leave the question open for another day to see if I get any other info on creating a data connection or working with the XML data back and forth, but I really appreciate your input!
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Jeffrey CoachmanCommented:
Hillyman,

There is nothing wrong with using the info in Ozxar's link, this technique has been around long before the PDF format existed.

For the record, the info in that link is using "Access" as the Data storage medium, Not Adobe (as you are doing now).

So it is, in effect, the same advice that LSM has given you.

;-)

Jeff
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HillymanAuthor Commented:
Thank you all for your help.  As suggested, I am now focusing my efforts on the Access database design.  I am having a little trouble getting my head wrapped around creating relationships properly, but that's another question entirely.  Once again, thank you.
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