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Is it possible to programatically fill out a fillable ADOBE PDF form?

Posted on 2016-11-18
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Last Modified: 2016-11-21
If so then is it with an application or programming of some sort.    I have PDF forms that users are currently using by just opening them Adobe Reader and filling in the fillable fields.      I would like to have a Web App or program, or something similar, for them to enter the data in and then to post it to the pdf form fields.     Is there a way to do it?
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Question by:patrickmiller
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Joe Winograd, EE MVE 2015&2016 earned 500 total points
ID: 41893220
Hi Patrick,
I'm a big fan of the PDF Toolkit (PDFtk) from PDF Labs. PDFtk comes in both command line and GUI versions. The command line version is called PDFtk Server and may be downloaded here:
http://www.pdflabs.com/tools/pdftk-server/

Don't be misled by "Server" in the name. I don't know why they called it that, but it's just an executable (pdftk.exe, with a supporting DLL, libiconv2.dll) that runs on "standard" Windows — it does not have to run on a "server" Windows.

As you can see at its documentation, one of its operations is fill_form. I have written many programs that modify an FDF file with values, thereby creating a new PDF file with those values. Here's a sample call:

pdftk.exe InputFile.pdf fill_form InputValues.fdf output OutputFile.pdf

Open in new window

You can use it with any programming/scripting language that is able to call a command line executable. This seems to be exactly what you want to do. Regards, Joe
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Expert Comment

by:Edwin Hoffer
ID: 41893927
Dear patrick,

Hello. My friend working in accounts department always prefer to use SysTools PDF Form Filler. He has to deal with thousands of forms daily. So to save time he simply load the PDF in the tools and fill PDF form easily.  The provided is the procedures to fill the form. Hope this can be helpful.

Thanks & Regards
Edwin Hoffer
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LVL 54

Expert Comment

by:Joe Winograd, EE MVE 2015&2016
ID: 41894232
Hi Edwin,
Your comment says that PDF Form Filler can fill PDF forms "easily", but Patrick said that he wants to fill them "programmatically", not merely "easily". I checked the link you posted and, as far as I can tell, PDF Form Filler has an easy-to-use GUI, but no way to call it programmatically, i.e., no command line interface, application programming interface, software development kit, etc. If I missed it, please provide a link to its CLI, API, SDK, etc. Thanks, Joe
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Author Comment

by:patrickmiller
ID: 41896557
Will it allow for any type of fields, for example, Signatures, Check boxes, text fields and numeric fields?
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Expert Comment

by:Joe Winograd, EE MVE 2015&2016
ID: 41896622
Will it allow for any type of fields, for example, Signatures, Check boxes, text fields and numeric fields?
What is "it" in that question?
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Author Comment

by:patrickmiller
ID: 41896632
Sorry, I was speaking about the FDF file that would be used to populate the form.
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Expert Comment

by:Joe Winograd, EE MVE 2015&2016
ID: 41896651
A field's Value (the V param in an FDF file) may be the following Field Types (copied here from the PDF specification under "Fair Use"):
Button fields represent interactive controls on the screen that the user can manipulate with the mouse. They include pushbuttons, check boxes, and radio buttons.

Text fields are boxes or spaces in which the user can enter text from the keyboard.

Choice fields contain several text items, at most one of which may be selected as the field value. They include scrollable list boxes and combo boxes.

Signature fields represent digital signatures and optional data for authenticating the name of the signer and the document’s contents.
Regards, Joe
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Author Closing Comment

by:patrickmiller
ID: 41896670
Thanks Joe.    This should work for us.
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LVL 54

Expert Comment

by:Joe Winograd, EE MVE 2015&2016
ID: 41896689
You're welcome, Patrick. Good luck with the project! Regards, Joe
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