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Here is our InDesign document in CS6 where all of the fields are completed. Let me switch to normal editing mode so you can see, here is our button for the text field for the Name and E-mail address. We have down here a combo box listing year, and a Submit button that's going to mail to:firstname.lastname@example.org. The thing is that if you use SWF Preview here, if we preview this--and I am just opening up the SWF Preview panel and clicking the little triangle at the bottom to preview it, and let's detach it and make it larger-- you can see it, and you can see that there is a button, so buttons and rollovers, you can test those kind of things, but you can't actually enter anything inside the Preview field.
So to actually test your interactive forms, you need to export to Acrobat. In addition, there are a bunch of other little tweaks that you might want to do to some of your fields that just aren't yet available in InDesign. This is version 1.0 of the interactive form field. I am going to close this up, and we'll go ahead and export it PDF by going to the File > Export menu or pressing Command+E or Ctrl+E--my favorite way--and we'll call it visit-form.pdf. Save it on the Desktop. A couple of things you might want to change here is you might want to change the default view, like I always like to view it so that it fits the page in the window.
This is something you can do in Acrobat as well, and it's not a new feature in CS6, but you might have missed it if you skipped to CS5, for example. And then the Layout View, this is just a single page, so it's not going to make any difference, so we'll just leave it at the default. You want to make sure that it includes all of your form data, and I always turn on Tagged PDF if it happens to be off, which helps to create an accessible PDF. So let's say OK. And then there it opens in Fit-in-Window, which is what we specified. It opens in Acrobat, which is my default PDF viewer. And again, you need to be using Acrobat in order to do a lot of these tweaks that I'm going to be talking about.
By default, forms in later versions, and I believe that the version 8 and later-- right now we are using version 10 of Acrobat--by default forms open with this horrible purple ribbon going across the top that I hate. This is not something that you can control as the form designer, not in InDesign, not in Acrobat. It is a complete preference setting for the reader or Acrobat owner for the recipient. The same thing with the highlighting on existing fields is turned on by default. You can't turn that off at all.
You can't change the color that it uses. You can't change the fact that it's a red outline. This is completely up to the preference setting of the recipient, and Acrobat just doesn't allow any access to those preference settings because that's a security risk, is what they have told me. I suppose if you think it's really going to bother your recipients, you can tell them, you know, you can click this button up here to hide that purple ribbon, or you can turn off Highlight Existing Fields before you hide the Ribbon. This is how I would prefer my forms to open. By the way, if you go to Acrobat's Preferences, which on a Mac are under the Acrobat name, on a PC under the Edit name, you can actually turn that off permanently.
This is your own preference setting. Go to Forms over here, and up here, choose Always hide forms document message bar, and this is where you would change or hide your fields highlight color and the required fields highlight color. To edit any of these fields, you go to the tools area in Acrobat 10 and go to Forms and choose Edit. So what might you want to edit? Well, for example, let's say in the Comments field. I am going to right-click on the Comments field and choose Properties, and for most of these kind of fields if you right-click and choose Properties, you will see a whole lot of settings that you can do per field that we just don't have available to us in InDesign.
We do have the name and tooltip that we have in InDesign, and whether the form fields is visible, read-only required, but we can actually rotate it if we wanted to. Under Appearance, we can change the border and fill color, which remember, I said you could set in InDesign, but if you do set a border color then you are able to change the line thickness and the line style. So there are different kinds of line styles that you can have. These just aren't in sync with those fun little corner options that we have in InDesign.
I am going to change the Border Color back to No Color because I don't want any color on this little frame. You can set the default font and size. Now this is being picked up from we set in InDesign. Remember, that I recommended that you choose Auto, which means that it will automatically resize. Well, I take that back; for the Comment field, you don't need that. You can leave it at 8 or 10 or 12 or whatever you originally had. But for a field like say the Name field--and I can't get there yet until I close out our here--you might want to change it to Auto so that if somebody is entering a name, if it won't fit in the field, it will just get a little smaller as they add more characters, so that you can see the complete name in the field.
What I really like that we can't get in InDesign yet is the ability to add a default value. So like in the Comments field I could say enter your comments here or you have 500 characters, and in fact, that brings me to the next thing is that you can limit the characters. So you can say you have a limit of 500 characters to type. That way you avoid people like pasting tomes in here, just as a joke. You can also turn on Allow Rich Text Formatting, which is something we can't yet do in InDesign, so somebody can make something bold or italic and it will come through. I think, though, that those, what I just went through, are the most common kinds of edits that you might want to make to some of your fields. To make them, you just select them and then right-click and choose Properties, and depending on the kind of field, you might have slightly different kinds of properties that you can set.
And these go into a lot of detail. I believe that there is another title at lynda.com all about creating forms with Acrobat that I'm sure can help you with all of these different panels. But in general, I just want to say that though you can create, say, 95% of all your form fields' work in InDesign, you are very likely going to have to open it up in Acrobat to at least test entering text in the form and using the Submit button, plus tweaking the look and behavior of a lot of your fields.
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