Open a PDF from webserver Let user fill online then save back to webserver

Posted on 2013-12-03
Last Modified: 2013-12-03 C# Developer, I would like to open a user specific PDF stored on a web server, the user could then fill out the PDF as a fillable form. When they are done, they would click a save button and the form, along with what they typed in the blanks would be saved back into the user's directory on the webserver.

I don't need or want to save the form field information, just the filled out form itself.

Can this be done with simple C# tools? I know of some off the shelf programs that do something like this, just hoping there is an easy I/O way to get it done.
Question by:bcolladay
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Expert Comment

by:Scott Fell, EE MVE
ID: 39693867
When you create a form in acrobat pro, you can program where the data goes.  In the form designer, create a button. Then on the button properties, go to Actions.  Use the "Select An Action" drop down to Submit a form. Click the Add button from there you get a pop up for a url to submit the form data.    You would use your .NET code to collect the form data and update the db.  

If you want the form saved as a pdf, you would change the action item drop down from submitting a form to a menu item and choose Save As.  Then you would need to instruct your user to upload the pdf and use your .NET page to accept the upload and save it.

Author Comment

ID: 39693913
It is the second part that I am wanting, except what I want is someway to do this automatically so the end user doesn't have to upload something.  

So in my mind: The end user would click on a link that maybe opens the pdf in an iframe and outside the iframe in the web page there would be a "save" button. When the save button is clicked, the filled-out form is saved back on my web server as a pdf with the information they typed saved as well.

I don't want to save the data from the form and I don't want to rely on the user to upload the correct file.
LVL 52

Accepted Solution

Scott Fell,  EE MVE earned 500 total points
ID: 39694030
That is what I thought you wanted.  I'm not sure why you need an iframe though.  I believe the pdf will be on the client's computer so serverside code would not come into play to do what I described although you would still need to use serverside code to accept the upload and save to the server.  

Now the question is how to use client side code to save the pdf and then upload it.  Thinking out loud, in order to save the pdf, it has to go to the hard drive and therefor, browser code (javascript) couldn't come directly into play.  You would need to use a java applet or adobe air? to save or perhaps a macro.  But then there is the part of auto uploading.  I think all of this would need to be done in an applet or air?  

It may be easier to just have a form on the site that once filled in will generate a pdf and save to the server. This way, nothing is on the client.

Or if you use acrobat to post to a url, the serverside code would accept the data, and create a pdf on the fly serverside.  

I think it is too much trouble to try and open the pdf client side and then automatically save and upload.
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Author Comment

ID: 39694050
I believe you are correct. Just wanted to see if I had missed anything. This is for a medical portal, that has several, more than 20, clinics, they all have their own forms (5 - 15 per clinic) for new patients, medical history, etc.

Right now all I do is open their .doc files, convert them to fill-able form pdfs and upload them. They are all unique, so I am wanting to avoid parsing the data or recreating the form for each clinic.

The best work around is the print to pdf / save pdf and have them upload it. I just don't think end users read or follow instructions very well. I think most of them are unwilling to do this. I will talk to my clinics and see if this is an acceptable method. SO many browsers and so many versions of Adobe Reader.

Author Closing Comment

ID: 39694052
Not what I was hoping for but I believe it to be accurate.
LVL 52

Expert Comment

by:Scott Fell, EE MVE
ID: 39694506
For the type of info you are gathering, it would probably be safer to store the data to a db rather then the entire form anyway. Then just recreate a pdf programmatically when needed.  At least with storing data to the db you can encrypt it and it does not take up as much space.  With documents, you have to upload to the server, then use your scripting to move the document outside of the www so it can not be accessed accidentally.

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