Join Anne-Marie Concepción for an in-depth discussion in this video Reviewing the new Form tools, part of InDesign CS6 New Features.
By far, one of my favorite features in InDesign CS6 is the ability to completely create forms right in InDesign, not just the pretty backgrounds, but also the form fields themselves. Now I am going to be getting to the form field tools in a minute, but what I want to show you is how it used to be. And maybe you've never actually created an interactive form. I am talking about those PDF forms that you could fill in online and then you can print out or submit. Up until now, this is what we had to do. First of all, all forms that you see in Reader or Acrobat that you fill in had to be designed somewhere. You can't design them in Acrobat.
So they are either designed in Microsoft Word or InDesign or a similar kind of program. So if you are in InDesign, you might, for example, design this form that prospective students of Roux Academy could download from the Roux Academy website and fill in to schedule a campus tour. So we created all of these holders for their name and email address and so on, but we can't actually create the fields in any version of InDesign, up until CS6. What you are supposed to do would be to design this and then rely on the Acrobat Form Wizard, which has been around for a couple of versions.
And I talk about it at length in my Acrobat 10 Essentials Training and also Acrobat 10 Tips and Tricks, but let's see how this works. I am going to export this to PDF. From the Export menu, choose PDF Interactive, right up onto the Desktop. We are just going to accept the default values, okay, and I am going to click OK. And here it is, open up in Acrobat 10. It basically works the same way in earlier versions as well. So it's just a normal PDF; it's not a form. You're supposed to then go to the Form area and choose Create.
And it says, how do you want to do this, should we use the current document, yes, please, yes, the current document. And then it scans it and it says, okay, I'm done. Now you're in Form Editing mode. And how many fields was it able to detect? One, one whopping little radio button right here. See, it found the XLarge radio button, but not Name or the E-mail address or Comments or this Submit button. You would have to re-create these yourselves with the form tools in Acrobat. Now reason that it didn't recognize it is because it's too beautiful. Acrobat is used to very plain and simple kind of forms.
So there are many video tutorials, including mine and blog posts and articles, all about how to create a form in InDesign that the Form Wizard will recognize. Basically, you have to create a really simple form, like this one. You put boxes or lines next to the labels, and then we export again to PDF Interactive. I just press Command+E or Ctrl+E. It's a shortcut. We'll accept the defaults. Click OK. Fit in window and go to the Create Forms Wizard. Next. Yes, I said this one.
And now it did a much better job of recognizing the fields. So designers were resigned to creating very simple forms in InDesign if they wanted to be able to leverage the wizard in Acrobat. No, I don't want to save you. Now let's see what's new in CS6. Here is another form that looks just like that first form. Remember the one that Acrobat didn't recognize? Except this one has fields in it, fields that I created with the tools in InDesign. Let's export this guy to PDF. You use the same defaults. And check that out.
It's already a form. We don't have to run the Form Wizard; it is a form. We can enter our name here, AM Concepcion. We can tab to the next field, where I can enter my E-mail address, and it was outlined in red because it's required. That was something that I set up in InDesign. I can say yes, I'm interested in seeing the classrooms and the dorms or the library. There we go, classrooms and library. My T-shirt size is extra large. I have a bunch of comments I might want to enter, and I write really long, so you I get a little scrollbar.
This, again, I did in InDesign. The year that I'm going to be attending Roux Academy is, and I can choose from this list, and even that tooltip. When do you expect to enroll? I did that in InDesign. 2014. And then I can Submit. And this Submit button I added in InDesign. And it's going to submit the filled-out PDF form via an attachment to an email, so it's asking, which email program do I run? So I am not going to go that far right now, but I just want to show you how much we were able to do right in InDesign. Now, there are still some tweaks that you might want to do in Acrobat, and I'll be getting to that in another video in this chapter.
But let's jump back to InDesign, and let me show you where all the miracles happen. So I'll change the view to normal mode. First let's switch our Workspace from Essentials to Interactive for PDF, where most of our tools will be located. And you can see down here that the Buttons panel has been renamed to Buttons and Forms. So when you make something into a button, just by dragging it out of shape or selecting an object on the page, and you come to Buttons and Forms and you click the friendly little icon to convert it to a button, you can go under the type of button and choose these form fields.
So I want this thing to be a combo box, for whatever reason, or a text field or a radio button. It's nice that you can just switch from one to the next. You don't have to remove it, you know deconvert it from being a button and re-apply it. You can just switch among types of buttons. I love that. In addition, InDesign has added a few more actions, such as Clear Form, so you might make a button that says Reset and then assign this action to it. Print Form and Submit Form, that's the one that I used down here.
Part of the Interactive for PDF workspace has this library that's been around ever since we had an Interactive for PDF workspace. It used to be called Sample Buttons, and now it's called Sample Buttons and Forms. They have some preset form buttons up at the top. All the regular buttons are below. So if you want to create a series of radio buttons really quickly, you can just use these if you wanted to. I could select this one and then just drag them out here and drop them on the pasteboard and resize them as I'd like. And they have already been set up, if I select one and go to Buttons and Forms, as a radio button with a Normal and a Rollover On and a Normal Off, so whether it's selected or not selected. It's really nice.
A couple of other places that have been updated to deal with the new forms features are up here under the Object menu. So if you go to the Interactive flyout menu, that's also a place where you can take any kind of button and convert it to a form sort of button, or convert it back to an object. And the Set Tab Order now applies to the actual fields that you add. In your forms, you can set the tabbing order right here and it's maintained. And then that export to PDF dialog box, let me bring that back up, call this 2, you see right here that under Media, it used to just say Media and now it says Forms and Media. So you want to Include All, rather than Appearance Only.
So if you are at all familiar with working with buttons in your InDesign files, then changing those to actual form fields is very easy to do. And even if you've never created an interactive form in either InDesign or Acrobat, it's really simple. So, one of my top features of InDesign CS6 is this one right here, creating form fields, interactive forms, right in InDesign.
- 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