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InDesign Insider Training: Interactive PDFs

Check boxes and radio buttons


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InDesign Insider Training: Interactive PDFs

with David Blatner

Video: Check boxes and radio buttons

In the last movie we looked at how to add Text fields, Lists and Pop up menus called Combo boxes. Now i have saved all that work as version 2 of this file which you can find in the exercise files folder. Let's select this frame again and zoom into 200% with Cmd+2 or Ctrl+2 on Windows. And now I want to add Check boxes here or Radio buttons that people can click on it to select one of these two items. I also want to add a check box here, which let's people say whether they're bringing some art or not. Let's start with a check box here. I'll grab a frame.

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InDesign Insider Training: Interactive PDFs
2h 22m Intermediate Jul 23, 2013 Updated Jan 17, 2014

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While PDFs can be used for printing, they also have interactive features that make them great for forms, brochures, and prototypes. In this course, InDesign insider David Blatner tells you what interactive PDFs are, why they're so useful, and how to make them yourself with Adobe InDesign and Acrobat. Learn to make hyperlinks to websites, other pages in your document, and email; add buttons that navigate, show, and hide content; create a form with check boxes and text entry fields; and embed audio and video. Plus, discover how to add polish with calculations, page transitions, and more.

Topics include:
  • Creating a new interactive document
  • Linking to URLs and mail addresses
  • Creating bookmarks
  • Adding buttons with rollover states
  • Adding text, list, and submit fields to forms
  • Embedding audio and video
  • Adding page transitions
  • Best practices for exporting high-quality interactive PDF files
Subjects:
Design Digital Publishing PDF
Software:
InDesign
Author:
David Blatner

Check boxes and radio buttons

In the last movie we looked at how to add Text fields, Lists and Pop up menus called Combo boxes. Now i have saved all that work as version 2 of this file which you can find in the exercise files folder. Let's select this frame again and zoom into 200% with Cmd+2 or Ctrl+2 on Windows. And now I want to add Check boxes here or Radio buttons that people can click on it to select one of these two items. I also want to add a check box here, which let's people say whether they're bringing some art or not. Let's start with a check box here. I'll grab a frame.

Again, you can use any frame, but I'm going to use this Frame tool for graphic frames with the x in it just because it's a little bit more visually obvious. And I'm going to make it a square by holding down the Shift key, while I drag. Now to make it a little bit more obvious on the page, I'll put a stroke around it. Maybe just a one point black stroke. That looks pretty good. To turn this into a check box, I'm going to make sure it's selected with a Selection tool. Come over to the buttons and Forms panel and from the Type pop up menu, I'll choose check box. Of course I'm always going to go up to the Name field and change the name, cause I don't want a generic name. I want an actual name, something descriptive.

And I'll say Number of tickets. Also down here at the bottom in the PDF option section I can specify a tool tip here. So, I'll just say number of tickets again. Something that'll show up when people hover over the field. And I can choose some options, like is this required? Or, is this selected by default? In other words, is there a little tick mark in there when the PDF first opens. I'm going to leave both of those turned off, and in fact I'm going to move this down. It shouldn't be next to tickets, it should be moved down here.

I just dragged it down with the selection tool. Now you'll notice in the appearance section of the buttons and forms field, you can actually have two or more different states. And we talked about states in an earlier chapter. But the basic one's that it ships with, that you always get with a check box is normal on, in other words, what it looks like when it's turned on. When somebody's put a tick mark in it or, normal off. In this case normal off is empty. Now note that you can adjust the look of these items. In fact you can really dress them up in all kinds of ways. You can change their color, you can put stuff in there. For example, maybe I want to have an O, just a circle in there when it's not selected, instead of a tick mark.

Well I could go over here, and create a little ellipse, like a circle. I'll just hold down the Shift key and drag one out. And then I will colorize it. Maybe I'll fill it with magenta just so we can see it better. I'll nudge it into position with my arrow keys. And to put it inside that button, I'm going to cut it to the clipboard with a Cmd+X or Ctrl+X on Windows. I'll select that button and I'll go to the Edit menu and choose paste into. Now, of course, before I do that I want to make sure that the appearance is selected. So I'm going to be pasting into the normal off position. That's what I want.

When I paste into, you see that it actually adds it into that little thumbnail there. So this is now the normal off position and this is the normal on when somebody clicks on it. Now another way to get a kind of interesting looking check box, is to pick one out of the Sample Buttons and Forms library. This ships with InDesign, and you can see that Adobe gave you all kinds of check marks and radio buttons which we'll talk about in just a minute and so on. You can just grab one of these things by clicking on it, dragging it out onto your page, and then you can scale it just like any object.

I'll press the Cmd+Shift > Drag, or Ctrl+Shift > Drag on Windows, and then you just drag it and scale it to size. Now note that these look really cool, but there's a problem. They don't always appear correctly in some versions of Acrobat or in some other PDF readers. Now they'll still work. They'll still just turn on and off. But they'll look more like normal default buttons. Or sometimes they'll look normal until someone clicks on them, and then the fancy look clicks in. Either way, it's safe to use these special modified buttons, but just don't get upset if they don't always have the design you're expecting. In this case, I don't need that checkbox so I'm just going to delete it by hitting the Delete key on my keyboard.

Now let's add a radio button. I'm going to make my own radio buttons instead of pulling one out of the library, and you make a radio button just like any other object. Just drag out a frame and assign it the radio button type. In this case I'm going to use that Ellipse tool, and I'm going to draw out a circle. Again I'm holding down the Shift key. I could have used the graphic frame tool, but in this case that's the tool I happen to have selected, so that's what I used. Now, with the selection tool, I'll head back to the buttons and forms panel, and I'll say type should be radio button.

What's the difference between a check box and a radio button? While each check box can be turned on and off, in a radio button set only one will be turned on at a time. So radio buttons are great for like yes no answers. Like this one; yes, I'll be there or no, I can't make it. I don't want people accidentally selecting both of them or neither of them. So I'm going to to make sure that only one is selected at time by using a radio button. Let's give this radio button a name, of course. I'll change that to RSVP. I'm going to choose required, 'cuz I want to make sure that somebody does make a choice, here, one or the other.

I'll give it a description, I'll say, please RSVP. And now I need to make my other one. With radio buttons I find it's usually good to make one and then duplicate it. So I'mm going to do that by holding down Option+Shift or Alt+Shift on Windows, and just dragging it over. Now how does In Design know that these two radio buttons are part of the same set? The key is the name. The name right now is RSVP for both of them. This is the one instance in InDesign where you can have two different objects that have the same name. I could have three, four, or even ten different radio buttons. And as long as they have the same name, then only one of them will be able to be selected at a time.

There's two other things that I want to choose here. First of all, I want to specify which one of these should be selected by default. Which one should be on when the PDF opens. And I'm going to say yes. That's going to be the one. So I'll turn on the selected by default check box on that radio button. The last thing I'm going to do, and this is crucial, is change the button value for each of these. It's really important that each radio button have its own button value. So that when the information is sent back to you, when it's submitted back to you, that you can tell which one of these radio buttons they chose.

So, this one's going to be Yes and this one's going to be No. We're set. Let's export this puppy. Go to File menu, choose Export. Make sure my format is set to adobe PDF interactive, and click Save. Finally, I'll click OK, and InDesign exports the PDF and opens it in Acrobat. Let's zoom in here so we can see what's going on. I'll click the Fit Width in Window button. Scroll down so I can see it better, and there's our radio button. Notice that they're highlighted in red. And again, that means that they're required.

One of these is required to be selected. But if I click on this one, the other one turns off. So just like we hoped, only one can be turned on at a time. Check boxes are different. Check boxes could be turned on, and off. They're not part of a set, but look what happens when I click on this. First of all, I see the little tool tip. That's the description that I typed in. But where's my custom off state, that little pink dot that I put in there? Can't see it. Well, this is what I was talking about. You can't always see it. In this case, there's highlighting on top of it.

Acrobat is actually highlighting that field with kind of a light blue field, and so I cannot see that shape. There's a preference that let's you turn that off, but most people don't even know where it is. So, they're never going to get around to turning it off. Now, when I click down on this, I'm holding down the mouse button right now. You can actually see that Off state. That highlighting gets turned off for a moment, so I can see it. But then when I let go of the mouse button, it gets turned on. So, there's my On state. Click on it again and it turns off. And you can see that because I made a selection there, the highlighting is removed and now I can see the pink circle saying no. I'll click again and turn it on.

Now, this simple form is starting to look good now and it's collecting all the information we need. But it's missing something. It's missing a way to print or submit this information. Let's finish up this form in the next movie.

Find answers to the most frequently asked questions about InDesign Insider Training: Interactive PDFs.


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Q: I am trying to turn objects in a layered InDesign document into buttons, following the lessons in Chapter 3, but they don't show up when I export to PDF. What's wrong?
A: This is a known issue with InDesign, stacked layers, and buttons. The final stacking order in your PDF is actually determined by the order the buttons are created, not the stacking order of the layers in your document. David Blatner has researched and proposed a solution to this issue on his InDesign Secrets blog. Read more about it here.
Q: This course was updated on 01/17/2014. What changed?
A: The author updated three movies in the "Links and Bookmarks" chapter, since the behavior of hyperlinks has recently changed in InDesign CC.
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