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Now let's actually dive in and see how we create interactive forms in InDesign. Now, I am going to give you an overview and give you a tour of all the different kinds of form fields, point up some important settings that I think you should know about, but for detailed information and for all kinds of special tricks that you can do with these form fields, I think that you should keep an eye out for a title on using InDesign CS6 to create interactive documents that lynda.com should have shortly. First of all, you need to make sure that you have Acrobat to preview, because it doesn't help if you have just the free preview app, for example, that comes with all Macintosh computers. You really need to have Acrobat Pro to be able to edit these form fields and to preview them accurately, and to save them in a way for your reader users, for them to be able to save form data, for example.
I'll be covering that in more detail in a next video. But you'll see that as we construct this form in this movie, that I'm frequently jumping over to Acrobat to preview, to see what I have, because there's no built-in preview for interactive form fields in InDesign, unfortunately. They do have something called a SWF Preview. This is the same as the Preview panel from CS5 and 5.5. They just believe that it's more accurate to call it SWF Preview, because it's using Flash to give you the preview; it's not an actual PDF preview or HTML preview.
And it will show you a preview of the page, but you couldn't fill in any forms. So just make sure that you have Acrobat installed. Now the first thing you want to do is create the artwork, which I've done here, and then go ahead and start making your labels and places for people to enter type. Now when I first started playing with this new feature, I thought, oh great! I am going to create this cool-looking text frame, and then I'll just turn this right into a text field. So I created a text frame. Now this isn't a normal text frame right from InDesign; it is just a rectangular text frame to which I've replied a fill and a stroke and a fancy Corner effect. That's all.
And then to turn this into a text field, you just select it. And one of the easiest ways is to right-click, go down to Interactive, and choose Convert. And you can see that all the form fields are here, and this would be a text field. Anytime you want people to enter generic information, then you want a text field. So if I convert that to a text field, Buttons and Forms automatically opens it up. And I don't need to add any action. I just want people to be able to type in text. Now what I'm saying is, this is the wrong way to go, because watch. I'm going to export this to PDF, and you can only use the Interactive PDF Export. You can't use the Print PDF Export for this; it won't retain fields.
So you have to use the regular old Export command and make sure that you choose Adobe PDF Interactive, not Print. I'm going to save this out to the desktop. And the one setting that you want to make sure is turned on is Forms and Media, Include All; you don't want Appearance Only. By the way, while I am here, I know a new feature in InDesign is that you can now say interactive PDFs should be exported as individual pages. They forgot to add that. Up until now, everything came out as a spread, unless you used a special script. So I already chose Pages as my default.
Right, so I am going to go ahead and click OK. And look what they've done to my field. Acrobat is able to support fills and strokes, so it does have that correctly set. And by the way, I turned off Highlight Existing Fields. If you turn it on, it will look like this, and you'll be like I, didn't say blue background. Nut this is just a default of more recent versions of Reader and Acrobat. So you can turn that off. So it did retain the yellow background and the stroke around it, but it didn't retain the fancy outline. So if you want something like that--let's close this up-- you're going to have to just add it as a background and then put a normal no- stroke, no-fill text frame on top of it, which is what I ended up doing with this brochure.
So I don't want this to be a field anymore, so how do I convert it back into a text frame? Very simple. I can just do it right here at the bottom of the Buttons and Forms panel. And I could also do it with a right-click or from the Object > Interactive flyout. I want to convert it back to an object, and then now it's just a regular frame. So it actually wasn't even a text field; it was just a regular object. Take a text frame. I am just going to drag it out up here, because I think I am going to get confused if I put it right inside the yellow box to begin with. And then I'll drag that on top of here, just like that.
And now this frame, I have selected with my Selection tool, and I want to turn it into a text field. This time I think I'll go up to Object menu, go down to Interactive, and say Convert to Text Field. So buttons and fields get a dashed outline around it, and a little icon indicating what kind of button or field they are. So InDesign has helpfully said this is a text field. You can call it whatever you want. You probably want to give it a name of what people are supposed to enter, so I'll say Full Name.
This is not something that people see, but when you get the form data, what they entered is preceded by this label, so it's important to put that in here. You can put a description. Now this is a tooltip that people see when they hover over this field. So I can say, "Please enter your full name." If you want to allow a person to print what they've entered, you can turn that on. And if they enter something really long, then you can turn on Scrollable. And Scrollable just means, especially if you don't turn on Multiline, Scrollable means it's going to move from left to right, and if you have a really long name, they are not going to be able to see the stuff on the left, as they are typing, and the stuff on the right. So it's kind of a pain, especially if you specify a font size, like right here it specified to be 12 point.
And the thing is that as designers, we don't really have control over the type size and the front of what people are going to be using in Reader or Acrobat or whatever PDF reader they're using to fill out the form. If you insist on 12 point, then you're going to end up with text that might actually be running out of the field. What I would recommend is that you leave it at Auto. But a lot of people hate this setting. I like it. Auto means it starts out at whatever is the default type size that the person has set or accepted in their preferences in Reader or Acrobat, and if they type something that needs more room, then the type size starts getting smaller and smaller and smaller as they type, so that it can all fit.
Who cares what the data looks like? But if you do care, and I guess as a designer, you probably will care, you can leave it at 12 point. If you want to require that the person fill in this field before clicking Submit, then turn on Required, and that's going to add a red line around the field in Reader and Acrobat. That means when they click Submit, if they didn't feel in any required fields, they'll get an alert saying the Name field or Full Name Field is required. It will put a red line around the fields that the person forgot to fill in, and I am sure you've seen that before when you've filled out a form online and you forgot to enter something.
Another field that you should know about is Multiline. If you want to be able to have multiple lines in the same field, then you have to turn that on. Otherwise, it will never break the line and it will just create one long horizontal line of text. Normally you don't use Multiline unless for like a larger text field, not a one-line text field. You don't need to add any kind of action to this. The Event is On Release or Tap, is fine. And now we are going to do the same thing with E-mail address, and what you could do would be to select this existing field and then just Option+Drag or Alt+Drag it down to Email address.
And then change of name, because the name of every field has to be unique, so I added the number 1. But this field, we want it to stay a text field, but we want it to be Email. So, really easy to do that kind of thing. Now let's talk about two special kinds of buttons: those are check boxes and radio buttons. Check boxes are used in a list when somebody can choose one or more. So the person might be interested in seeing just classrooms or classrooms and dorms, so you use check boxes. So you can just drag out your own box if you want. I can just drag out a little box and say, hey buddy, this--I am going to convert to button--is a check box.
You see that when you choose Check Box it automatically defaults to what check boxes look like, which is kind of nice, And it shows you what it's going to look like when somebody checks it and when somebody unchecks it. And then you can just Option+Drag or Alt+Drag multiple copies and put them next to your listings. Now, the ones here I've already set. So this one is called Box1, Box2 and so on, but what's important about check boxes is that you add a value, because otherwise when somebody submits the form, you're not going to know what was the checkbox that they want. So that one says Housing, this one says Library. So not every kind of field has a value area, but check boxes definitely do.
Radio buttons are for list of things belonging to a category where only one choice is possible. Somebody can get one T-shirt, either Medium or Large or X-Large or XX-Large, not two, so then you'd use radio buttons. And you can make a radio button the same way that we made check boxes. You can just take the Ellipse tool. And it can be any shape you want; it can be even a piece of artwork if you wanted it to. But I am just going to make a real simple one, and say that is a button and it is a radio button. But what's even better--I am going to undo--is before you even turn it into button, is to make all of your radio buttons. So I am going to Option+Drag or Alt+ Drag down to make copies and then select all of these and turn them all into a radio button.
And when you do that, then InDesign correctly makes them into one set so that only one can be chosen, and you can just drag and drop that over here. So this first one is called Radio Button 8, button value choice, whatever the choice is. So notice that their names are all the same, Radio Button 8. This is important for radio buttons. But again, the value, you have to actually choose X-Large, XX-Large, Medium and so on. Let's go back here. This one would be X-Large, and this one would be Large.
So with radio buttons, the name should be the same for them all. It doesn't have to be Radio Button 8; it could be T- shirt size for all of them, but the values need to be different. Here the button names and the values need to be different. Again, remember that you can come up here to the Sample Buttons and Forms and a lot of these radio buttons and check boxes already set up for you with different selected states. You can just drag and drop them right onto your page. So what are these things? These are radio buttons with names R14, radio button 14, and then you just change the choice for each one and resize them as you'd like.
The Comments field here is just a large text field, so here I've made a text frame and we would turn this into a text field. But we want to turn on Multiline for this one. That's what adds the scrollbar that I showed in the previous video, and the fact that it is scrollable. And this is called a combo box right here. So this field, which I gave a little background to, if I select it and choose Combo Box, this was a dropdown list of years, if you remember from the previous video, so you need to add the list items here. Let's say it's a different kind of list, like a list of fruit.
All right, so I'll say Pears and then you click the Plus symbol. But here is a tip: if you press Shift+ Return, then it adds it, but puts your cursor back in the list item field, so you can continue typing. Pears, Apples Shift+Return. What else? Oranges. Let's just do those three kinds of fruit. If you hover your cursor on any of these list items that have been entered, you'll see a useful tooltip that tells you to select an item on the list and make it the default choice, so that instead of being blank, you could say this one. Or you might say, Choose a fruit. And then I want this one to be first, so I am going to drag it to the top, and I am going to leave it highlighted, because when you highlight something, as you can see select an item in the list, you can make it a default choice. If you want any default choice, then you wouldn't select any item.
So we'll leave that there. If you want them sorted alphabetically or numerically, then you turn on Sort Items. We could do that and then bring this up to the front so it can be--let's turn off Sort Items and be neat about it. Finally, I know we are going long here, we have the special kind of buttons like Submit and Print and Reset, and for those, you can take any bit of artwork-- here I used one of the buttons from the Library and I added the word Submit on top and then grouped it. So for the Button type, I am going to leave it as a button, but for the Events I don't want it to be Go To Next Page, which was the default event that came with this. So I am going to delete that and instead, the event was going to be Submit Form.
And if I want to, I can put a tooltip here in case I think people don't understand what this means. Click to send this completed form as a PDF. Now the last thing you need to do for these Submit buttons is, where do you want the form to go? So if you already have something set up on your web server or with Acrobat to collect form data, you'd put that in here. If you just want somebody to be able to attach it to an email, you can put it in your email address, like I might put in mail to:email@example.com.
One more kind of field and then we are done, and that is a signature field. Yes, you can add a signature field here. You can take any existing object or drag out a frame yourself, just like for any kind of button creation. So I'll drag out a frame. We'll put something right here and then select that. Let's use the Object > Interactive > Convert to Signature Field. Sign here, in case it's not obvious. You don't need to do anything else. Now let's export this to PDF and see what it looks like. Version 2, and let's highlight the existing field so you can see that everything that is an interactive field is now highlighted in the default blue color.
And I can click in here and type in a name, email address. I want to go to both the dorms and the library. I want a Large T-shirt. No, I'll change my mind, Medium T-shirt. You see Large becomes deselected. I can add lots of comments and it starts scrolling as I go. I can choose. It says--oh I didn't make my field large enough to say Choose a Fruit, and I forgot to change the name, you see it's a combo box. So I want it be Oranges. And I could submit it or I could click in the Signature field and then I get the usual Reader or Acrobat prompt to, how do you want to add your digital ID? So I just think it's amazing that you can add all the stuff right in InDesign.
Now, there are still some tweaks and fixes that you might want to do that you can't do in InDesign, and I'll be covering that in the next video.
- Working with the Conveyor tool to link objects and map styles
- Applying Liquid Layout rules
- Using flexible columns
- Creating auto-sized text frames
- Accessing recently used fonts
- Fitting frames to more types of text content
- Exporting to EPUB 2 and 3 using new controls
- Inserting HTML and Edge content into a layout
- Creating a PDF form with interactive text, radio, and checkbox fields
- Mapping text styles in linked objects