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pdf forms finicky

Posted on 2015-01-20
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Last Modified: 2015-01-27
My client has dozens of pdf insurance forms that are emailed, to customers. They can fill it in online, PRINT it and MAIL it back to client.  

We uploaded these fillable pdf forms to my client's website.  ALL FUNCTIONALITY disappears in ALL browsers on all platforms.  

My client sells insurance and one of his insurance vendors insists that the pdf application that they provided to him which is fillable be fillable ON WEBSITE.  I have found that some word docs that are protected and then uploaded retain their functionality IF you upload the .doc file.  I am at a loss for "fixing" pdf forms that don't have an associated word file.

I have latest version of Acrobat Pro.
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Question by:nsitedesigns
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by:Karl Heinz Kremer
ID: 40563124
If you upload an interactive PDF file to a web server, and you are using Adobe Acrobat or the free Adobe Reader to display the file (either directly, or via the browser plug-in), you will be able to fill in the form.

This means that either you did not upload an interactive PDF form, or you are not really testing all browser and all platforms...

Chrome and Firefox come with their own built-in PDF viewer. In order to use the Adobe viewer, you first need to disable that internal viewer. See here for information about how to do that:

http://helpx.adobe.com/acrobat/using/display-pdf-browser-acrobat-xi.html

If you are using Internet Explorer and have either Acrobat or Reader installed, the PDF file should be displayed in the Adobe viewer, and you should be able to fill in the form.

If you are using a mobile device, all bets are off: Mobile PDF viewers are not on par with desktop viewers, depending on the type of viewer, you will have more or less features, but none of them will reach the functionality of even the free Adobe Reader.

What tools did you use to test if you can fill the form?
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Author Comment

by:nsitedesigns
ID: 40563152
This means that either you did not upload an interactive PDF form, or you are not really testing all browser and all platforms...
How do I upload the interactive PDF?  There aren't 2 versions of the file.  I tested on a mac desktop using FF, Chrome  and Safari.  I am not testing in IE.

Chrome and Firefox come with their own built-in PDF viewer. In order to use the Adobe viewer, you first need to disable that internal viewer
I find it hard to believe that the general public knows about this extra step to view fillable PDF forms.  I cannot imagine they will want to go through this to fill out forms.
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by:nsitedesigns
ID: 40563155
Oh, I forgot to add that a minor handful of fillable PDF forms that I got from client DO work.  I would guess that is about 10% that work.  The other 90% don't.  Is it in how the pdf form is saved?
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by:Karl Heinz Kremer
ID: 40563190
You are right, the general public does not know about the problems that non-Adobe PDF viewers can cause. That's why you need to either specify exactly what system your forms require, or actually test when the form is opened and display a warning and informant about how to download/install Reader if that's not what you find.

I have a special page that I use for my client's forms that does this test. Unfortunately, I cannot share this here.

You should not have to do anything special to save an interactive PDF (there are no two different versions, a PDF file either has form fields, or does not). Try to open this file: http://khkonsulting.com/test/Untitled.pdf

Do you see a form field and a "click here" button? Can you type into the form field? Do you have Adobe Reader or Adobe Acrobat installed on your Mac? If so, you should be able to see this in Safari. Depending on which OS version you are running, you may have to enable Reader in Safari.

Do you have any of these files accessible on a public web site so that I could take a look?
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Expert Comment

by:Dushan911
ID: 40563265
Required fields which needs to be save on PDF forms should bind to a particular XML schema then need sto be reader extended.
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by:nsitedesigns
ID: 40571487
Sorry - haven't had time to get back to y'all on this.

I opened http://khkonsulting.com/test/Untitled.pdf in Safari and Chrome I was able to click on Click Here and modify the text as well.  In Firefox I was not able to do either.

Here is a link to pdf form on his site that CAN be filled out
http://bedfordunderwriters.com/property/PackageAppBadgerMutual.pdf

I had to search for a long time to find one that worked!

We get the pdf fillable form from the insurance company to put on MY CLIENT's website.
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Expert Comment

by:Karl Heinz Kremer
ID: 40571500
Have you tried to disable the PDF viewer in Firefox to see if you can correctly open it with the Reader plug-in? Do you have a link to a file that you could fill out before uploading, and that does no longer work once uploaded?
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by:nsitedesigns
ID: 40571516
Not sure how to disable PDF View in FF.
Attached is an original word doc for a liquor application.  It works in Word.  It works when you convert it to a pdf. But when you upload it, it loses its functionality.

http://bedfordunderwriters.com/general/Liquor.pdf
Liquor.doc
Liquor.pdf
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Expert Comment

by:Karl Heinz Kremer
ID: 40571535
Both PDF files (the one linked to and the one attached to your reply) are NOT PDF forms - they are forms, but not interactive forms. You've added a checkmark on the file that is attached to your reply. But that was done using annotation tools, not via a true checkbox field. I've added "real" form fields to you document (this was done in a quick and dirty way, so don't expect to be able to use them. There are for example no radio buttons used for the Yes/No selections, which means that you can select both Yes and No). This is just to show you how an interactive form would look like.
Liquor-form.pdf
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Author Comment

by:nsitedesigns
ID: 40571552
Maybe I am confusing forms with interactive forms.  Client is wanting the forms to be filled out online and then PRINTED.  He doesn't need the form to be submitted online.  Just printed.

What you provided worked in Chrome and Safari, not FF.
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Accepted Solution

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Karl Heinz Kremer earned 500 total points
ID: 40571596
Again, you need to kick out FF's own PDF viewer:

http://helpx.adobe.com/acrobat/using/display-pdf-browser-acrobat-xi.html#Mozilla_Firefox

You cannot fill out the form online if it's not interactive. It does not matter if you want to print or if you want to submit the form online as well - the key is that you need to add form fields to your documents.

The best way for your users to get a good experience - regardless of what browser they are using - is to download the file to their local computer and then use Adobe Reader (or Adobe Acrobat) to fill put and print the form.
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Author Comment

by:nsitedesigns
ID: 40571608
Adobe Reader doesn't appear to be activated in FF.  It is asking me if I want to activate it.  Weird.
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Expert Comment

by:Karl Heinz Kremer
ID: 40571745
What exactly is the error message? Just to verify, you are running this on a Mac? Do you (or did you ever have) the trial version of Adobe Acrobat installed? If so, take a look at this discussion on the Adobe forums, it may have the fix for your problem: https://forums.adobe.com/thread/1455756
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Author Comment

by:nsitedesigns
ID: 40572698
I don't get an error message.  I just can't click on any field.   I had Acrobat Pro 9 on my computer and deleted it.  I currently have Acrobat Pro IX.
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by:Karl Heinz Kremer
ID: 40572956
I was asking about the FF message about activating Reader. That may be fixed by the link I've posted.

You cannot click on any field because the document you've linked to does not contain fields.
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by:nsitedesigns
ID: 40572970
ok thanks
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