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InDesign Insider Training: Interactive PDFs
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Understanding PDF forms


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InDesign Insider Training: Interactive PDFs

with David Blatner

Video: Understanding PDF forms

It was only a couple of years ago that making digital interactive PDF forms was a chore that every designer hated. Generally, if you wanted a form field in a PDF, you'd need to create it in Acrobat, or Adobe's LiveCycle Designer. Neither of which were really designer friendly. InDesign users rightfully argued that if InDesign was being used to layout the design of a form, then InDesign is where the form field should be added. But Adobe apparently finally got the message in 2011 when the head of the London InDesign user group, Tony Harmer, wrote a 16 stanza poem called InDesign Should Have Support For AcroForms. He performed this poem on stage at Pep Con, the printing and publishing conference in front of hundreds of InDesign users. Who cheered him on so wildly, that the Adobe product managers in attendance moved PDF forms way up on the priority list.

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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

Understanding PDF forms

It was only a couple of years ago that making digital interactive PDF forms was a chore that every designer hated. Generally, if you wanted a form field in a PDF, you'd need to create it in Acrobat, or Adobe's LiveCycle Designer. Neither of which were really designer friendly. InDesign users rightfully argued that if InDesign was being used to layout the design of a form, then InDesign is where the form field should be added. But Adobe apparently finally got the message in 2011 when the head of the London InDesign user group, Tony Harmer, wrote a 16 stanza poem called InDesign Should Have Support For AcroForms. He performed this poem on stage at Pep Con, the printing and publishing conference in front of hundreds of InDesign users. Who cheered him on so wildly, that the Adobe product managers in attendance moved PDF forms way up on the priority list.

The next year InDesign CS6 was released with Acrobat form fields as one of top new features. Making forms was overnight transformed from something to be avoided to something actually really fun. InDesign can add text fields, popup menus filled with list items, check boxes, radio buttons and more. And best of all, these form field work great when you export a PDF and open it in Adobe Reader, even on a tablet. PDF is a great way to collect information from people, because it's now so easy to create a well designed, nicely laid out form.

Something inviting, that people are drawn to fill out and submit. And Adobe Acrobat has made it super easy to collect your data, and get it into a format like a spreadsheet that you can use and analyze. Let's take a look at how you can make form fields in InDesign, starting with adding editable text fields and lists.

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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