Tips for creating PDFs

How to add a date field to a PDF form

With a date field, users can select a date from a calendar dropdown instead of manually typing it. For convenience, you can set the format in which the date will be entered (dd/mm/yyyy, mm/dd/yyyy, etc.).

See how to add a date field in a fillable PDF using different PDF editors. 

Adobe Acrobat

1. Open the necessary PDF form, choose Forms & Signatures > Prepare Form and click Add a Date Field.

 2. Drag it to the designated place in your form.

3. Double-click the field to open its Properties. Go to Format and select the date format you need.

4. Save changes.

Fluix

1. Go to Actions and click Create PDF Form.

2. Choose whether you need to edit an existing form, or create a new one.
3. In Fields, click Date and drag the added field where you need it in the form.

4. Save changes.

DocFly

1. Upload the form and go to Form Creator.

2. Click Date Field and drag it where you need it in the form.

3. In Date Format in the toolbar on the right, select the date format in the dropdown menu.

4. Save changes.

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How to add an image field to a PDF

PDF forms are one of the most convenient formats for data collection, sharing and storage. Apart from text, you can insert images into PDF files by taking a photo with your mobile device or uploading it from the gallery.

In forms without predefined image fields, you can add an image field straight to the PDF without leaving a document you are working on. There is no need to manually add a blank page or attach an image as a file.

Let’s see what tools to use to add an image field to your PDF form.

Adobe Acrobat

Adobe Acrobat is a PDF app that lets you manage PDF files: view, comment and fill out, and documents. Acrobat works best for personal needs, allowing you to create a professional resume, research paper, hand-out, etc.

Note: To use this tool, you need an Adobe Acrobat Pro license.

1. Open your PDF form in Adobe Acrobat, choose the Prepare Form mode and click Add an Image Field.

2. Drag it to the designated place in your form.

3. Save changes to the PDF form.

Fluix

Fluix is professional document management software with an inbuilt form builder. It allows users to both manage PDF forms online and offline (fill in, comment, review, sign, add images, add fields) and use them for task assignments within automated workflows.  

Note: To use this tool, you need a Fluix license or free 14-day trial account.

1. Go to Actions and click Create PDF Form.

2. Choose whether you edit an existing form or upload a new one.

3. Click Image and drag it to the designated place in the form. 

4. Save changes to the PDF form.

Read more about what other fields you can add to PDF and fill out in Fluix.

Jobsite Photo Documentation

Construction photo documentation is often used to manage the jobsite better, prove the location, show the defects, etc. In this case, it makes sense to use a document management tool so that to standardize the form appearance and flow they pass, from a new template to completed PDF document sent to customers.

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How to add a signature field to a PDF

For proper online document eSigning documents should contain signature fields. This way you and your customers will be able to sign a document fast on any smartphone, tablet or computer.

We will suggest you a couple of tools where you can add a signature field to your PDF form.

Adobe Acrobat

Note: To use this tool, you will need Adobe Acrobat Pro license.

Step 1. Open your PDF form in Adobe Acrobat, choose Prepare Form mode

Step 2. Click on the Signature Field and drag it to the designated place in your form

Step 3. Save changes to the PDF form.

Fluix

Note: To use this tool, you will need Fluix license, or Fluix free 14-day trial account

In Fluix you can add signature field both as an admin for a form that will be used by all team members of a workflow, and as a user on iPad/iPhone for a particular form.

Adding signature field in Form Builder

Step 1. Open your PDF form in Fluix Form Builder under Actions:

Step 2. Choose whether you need to edit an existing form, or create a new one:

Step 3. Click on the Signature and drag it to the designated place in a form

Step 4. Save changes to the PDF form.

Adding signature field on iPad/iPhone

Step 1 – Tap and hold on the document and select Add Signature Field:

Step 2 – Drag and drop it to the designated place
Step 3 – Tap and hold on the document and select Make required

Form with signature field

Now, you only need to simply tap the respective field in the PDF form and sign on mobile device.

Once the field is added, you can also make it required. In case a form participates in a document flow, by configuring mandatory fields you will ensure the signature is collected before the form is passed to the next step of the flow. 

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How to add calculations in a PDF form

Save your team some time and automate calculations in PDF forms. You can set up basic calculations such as addition and multiplication with a click of a button.

Step 1. Open a PDF form in Adobe Acrobat Pro and select Prepare Form in the list of tools:

Step 2. Find the field where you want the final calculations to be shown, right click on the field and proceed to the field Properties:

Step 3. Under Properties, go to Calculations and the second option Value is. For a sum, select the fields you want to be added up under Pick button:

Step 4. When calculation is in place, the field you’ve chosen will add up the values automatically:

Step 5. Save changes to the PDF form and upload it to the storage folder that is used in a workflow.

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How to add file naming convention to a PDF form

It’s hard to keep a unified folder structure organized when each fieldworker names documents up to their own will. Hours of time are wasted searching for files, proper naming, and structuring. 

File naming convention prevents this kind of a mess and arranges your documents in a logical order. It describes, at a glance, what the document is about, what it contains, and how it is related to other files. Therefore, it can be said that file naming is some kind of passport or identity code for your documents.

How it works:

  • Firstly, you set up a naming convention in the file template, then upload it to your storage folder used in a workflow.
  • Each time a fieldworker fills out fields used in your pre-configured naming convention, the file name changes accordingly.

Benefits for the field workers:

  • Saving time on manual entry when renaming documents.
  • Eliminating human error.
  • Browsing file names more effectively and effectively. 

Benefits for the office staff:

  • Unified file structure in the destination storage folder.
  • No time waste on manual corrections.
  • Quick file search.

You can configure automatic document naming with Naming Convention in Fluix, or set it up in Abobe Acrobat Pro.

Here are the steps to proceed:

1. Open the PDF document in Adobe Acrobat Pro:

2. Go to File > Properties > Custom:

3. In the Name field, type RDNameFormatString

4. In the Value field, specify the desired name format string. Here’s the example:

Original File Name – Customer Name (Work Order),  then type in the Value field: %rdpdf.baseFileName% – %Customer Name% (%Work Order%)

5. While filling in the Value field, keep in mind the following things:

  • You should type the field names exactly the same as in your PDF document.
  • Order and number of field names used are optional.
  • The percent character (%) has a special meaning in the name format string. If you wish to use the percent character as part of your file, then use it twice – ‘%%’ in the format string becomes ‘%’ in the resulting filename.
  • The slash character (/) cannot be used in a file name, so all slashes will be replaced with hyphens (-).

6. When done, press the Add button, then OK.

Built-In Parameters 

There are a few built-in parameters that you can use. These naming parameters remove any need for using certain form fields in your PDF document.

rdpdf.baseFileName – Name of the PDF file without extension (the ‘.pdf’ is dropped). Do not need a form field asking for the name of the PDF file.

rdpdf.currentDateShortStyle – Current date in a short format – “3/26/20” on March 26, 2020 (date format depends on device’s local settings). Do not need a form field asking for the date.

rdpdf.currentDateMediumStyle – Current date in a medium format – “Mar 26, 2020” on March 26, 2020 (date format depends on device’s local settings). Do not need a form field asking for the date

rdpdf.currentTime – Current time in 24-hour ‘HH:mm’ format – “13:47” at 1:47 pm. Do not need a form field asking for the time.

rdpdf.currentTime{hh:mm} – Current time in ‘HH:mm’ format – “1:47” at 1:47 pm. Do not need a form field asking for the time.

rdpdf.userName – Name of the user currently logged into Fluix. Do not need a form field asking for the user’s name

rdpdf.userEmail – Email of the user currently logged into Fluix. Do not need a form field asking for the user’s email.

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How to auto-populate multiple fields in a form

Auto-population can be applied to fields with the same data. The user needs to type the text only once, and it will be automatically pulled in other fields. This helps increase data capture speed, and prevents errors and misspelling.

Step 1. Open your PDF form in Adobe Acrobat Pro, choose Prepare Form > Fields and name the field(s) that you need the information to be copied to EXACTLY like the field where the information will be copied from.

The system will then mark it with a “#” sign which means that fields are auto-populated.

Step 2. Save changes.

Note. Fluix supports auto-population for forms created in Adobe Acrobat.

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How to create a fillable PDF form

PDF form is a popular format for fillable forms for a number of reasons:

  • Uniform appearance which is critical for business and legal documents
  • PDF remains intact regardless of the device and operating system
  • The form looks similar to the paper form which is critical for non-techy team members who used to work with paper forms for years
  • Digital signature
  • Security. It is possible to make form fields required, hidden, view-only. Moreover, the form itself can be protected with a password.

In this article you’ll learn how to create a fillable PDF form in two tools: Adobe Acrobat Pro and Fluix.

Note: in case you need to create a fillable PDF form for your individual use, we advise you to create it in Adobe Acrobat. To create fillable forms for collaboration with your team, choose Fluix mobile form filling and workflow automation platform. 

Creating a fillable PDF form in Adobe Acrobat Pro

Note: to create a fillable PDF form in Adobe, start with a trial account, or buy a license.

To start creating a form, open Adobe Acrobat Pro and click Prepare Form. 

In the suggested list of options you will need to either select a form you already have in a different format, or select Create New to create a form from scratch.

In the opened interface you will see the menu of elements on top of the page: 

To add an element, drag & drop it from the menu to the form. 

To change the properties of the added field, double click on it:

Here you can learn how to add date, image, signature fields, and get other tips on form creation.

Creating a fillable form in Fluix

Note: To create a fillable form free in Fluix, you can use a 14-day trial account.

Then you will need to subscribe to the service to use the Fluix app for the daily paper-based processes together with your team.

To start creating a fillable form in Fluix, open Fluix admin portal and navigate to Actions -> Create PDF Form.

Choose whether you want to create a form from scratch, or edit an existing form.In the Form Builder menu, you will see a list of elements on the left. Tap on any of them to start creating a form. To create a form faster, you can choose blocks:

By clicking on the added element, you will see its properties:

To delete or duplicate an element, hover your mouse pointer over it and choose the option:

To add a new page, click Add page at the bottom:

To delete a page,click on the garbage bin icon in the right upper corner of the page:

Once the form is ready, click Save Changes in the top right corner and choose the option you need:

Fluix built-in cloud storage is an integral part of the Fluix system. It allows you to store and manage the forms that your team need to fill out. To start using a fillable form you created in the daily work of your team, create a workflow

In case of any questions feel free to contact us at support@fluix.io.

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How to duplicate pages in a PDF form using JavaScript

While capturing data in a form in some cases extra pages with designated fields need to be added. For example, more photo fields should be added to the inspection checklist. 

We can suggest to you several ways how to duplicate pages in a PDF form:

1. In the Fluix app, you can copy pages on the go on the iOS device. Here is a separate guide on how to do this.
2. In Adobe Acrobat Pro, you can add JavaScript to the form template.

How the script works

This duplicate function copies a source page and inserts it into a document after another specified page. 

Note: You will need an Adobe Acrobat Pro license. This function is developed by Fluix and won’t be available when working with the document in Adobe Acrobat or any other PDF editor.

Steps to add the script

Step 1: Open your PDF form in Adobe Acrobat, choose the Prepare Form mode and click on the button as shown below:

Step 2: Having clicked on the button, drag it to the designated place in your form and specify its field name in the popup (the name will be shown to you only in the Adobe Acrobat, while it won’t be displayed to the app users in Fluix):

Step 3: Click All Properties to proceed with configuring the actions for this button. 

Step 4: Go to the Actions tab, select Mouse up as a trigger, select Run a JavaScript as an action and click Add to specify the following Javascript: 

var sourcePageIndex = *page number*;
var pageIndex = *page number*;
this.flx_copyPage(sourcePageIndex, pageIndex);

Arguments:

  • sourcePageIndex – the number of the page that is going to be copied
  • pageIndex – the number of the page after which the copied page needs to be inserted 

The index value of the pages starts from 0, i.e. the first page of the document = 0, the second one = 1, the third = 2, and so on. If it’s needed to insert the copied page before the first page, the index value should be -1. 

For example, the JavaScript below copies the first page and inserts it after the third page of the document:

Once the JavaScript is created, click OK.

Note: The function may display alerts using a standard app.alert() PDF JavaScript method (NOTE: The function fails silently in case invalid page indices are passed as arguments).

Step 5 (optional): To inform the Fluix app users about the action this button performs, go to the Options tab and select whether you would need to add a Label or Icon to the button.

Step 6: Once done, click Close, ​​save changes to the PDF and upload it to the storage folder that is used in a workflow.

Button in a Form

Users in the Fluix app will be able to add pages with a click of a button:

In case of any questions feel free to contact us at support@fluix.io.

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How to lock a PDF form after signing it

Once you’ve collected all eSignatures for the document, you can lock the entire document or its separate parts to prevent any subsequent changes and ensure security.

Step 1. Open a PDF in Adobe Acrobat Pro and choose Forms & Signatures > Prepare Form.

Step 2. Double-click the necessary signature field to open its Properties.

Step 3. In Signed, tick the box Mark as read-only. Select one of the options: All fields, All fields except these, Just these fields.

Step 4. Save changes.

Note. In Fluix, you can protect documents with sensitive data with a password. This way, only users who have a password granted by the admin can access the document and edit it. 

To enable password protection, go to Configuration > Settings > Security and tick the Default PDF password box.

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How to make PDF form fields read-only

There are many examples when flattening a PDF may prevent files from being edited. E.g., you sent a contract for a signature to your customer in fully editable mode. Your customer both signed and changed some details in the contract.

Here is how you can make a whole document or selected fields read-only:

1) Via workflow setting in Fluix. The document will be automatically flattened when submitted. Make sure that nobody needs to edit/correct the document once it was submitted:

 

2) Automatically, based on built-in events, e.g. digital signature added – achieved with configuration in Acrobat Pro. To enable it, open the file that has a signature field, go to the field Properties-Signed, and select which fields will become read-only once signature is placed:

 

3) Automatically, based on certain conditions, e.g. all fields in a specific section fully completed – achieved with Javascript.

4) Manually, by end user tapping a button, e.g. Section finished  – achieved with Javascript.

Does paperwork clog up your daily routine? Then consider Fluix – a lightweight document management software solution, which helps to digitize paperwork and automate the document workflow across your company.  

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How to make a field required in a PDF Form

To ensure that users don’t leave blank fields in the document and fill in all the important information, you can enforce mandatory fields in the form.

See how to create required fields in a fillable PDF using different PDF editors.

Adobe Acrobat

1. Open the necessary PDF form, choose Forms & Signatures > Prepare Form.

2. Select the field that needs to be required, right click on it and choose Set as a Required Field:

3. Save changes.

Fluix

1. In Taskstreams, open the taskstream with the form you need to edit:

2. Click the task with the corresponding document and choose Forms:

3. Choose the necessary form and click Assign form fields:

4. Click the necessary field, select Make Required and click Save Changes:

DocFly

1. Upload the form and go to Form Creator.

2. Click the necessary field and tick the Required box in the toolbar on the right.

3. Save changes.

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How to prevent printing or editing a PDF form

To prevent PDFs from being printed or edited, set up the respective security settings that won’t allow the files to be tampered with.

Step 1. Open a PDF in Adobe Acrobat Pro, proceed to the File option on the top menu bar and select Properties in the list:

Step 2. Choose Password Security in the dropdown below:

Step 3. In the Permissions section, choose whether printing and editing is allowed. For more granular permissions as to editing, select Changes Allowed:

 

Step 4. Once all permissions and restrictions are set up, enter a password that will later allow you to change these settings.

Step 5. Save changes to the PDF form and upload it to the folder that is used in a workflow.

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How to protect a PDF form with password

Having sensitive information in PDF might be tricky, but you can always password protect it, so people outside your organization wouldn’t have a way to even open it.

Steps 1. Open your PDF in Adobe Acrobat Pro and proceed to the Protect option under Tools or in the right side bar:

Step 2. Under More Options select Security Properties: 

Step 3. Choose Password Security in the dropdown below:

Step 4. Tick the checkbox next to Require a password to open a document and come up with a password for this file:

Step 5. Save changes to the PDF form and upload it to the folder that is used in a workflow.

As a result, any person will need to enter a password in order to open a PDF.

In case you’d like your users to open such protected PDFs without entering password manually each time they open a document, consider a document management software solution like Fluix.

Tired of dealing with so much paperwork at the office? Then consider Fluix – a lightweight document management software solution, which helps to digitize paperwork and automate the document workflow across your company.  

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Supported scripting in Acro Forms

1. HTTP replies for submit actions

Fluix presents HTTP replies with Content-Type “text/plain” and “text/ html” to the user. For other content  types the “Form successfully submitted.” is shown. 

2. Objects scriptable in Fluix

  • field
  • event
  • doc
  • app
  • util
  • console

field Object

Properties

  • borderColor
  • borderStyle
  • charLimit
  • currentValueIndices
  • defaultValue
  • display
  • fillColor
  • hidden
  • name
  • numItems
  • page
  • print
  • readonly
  • rect
  • required
  • strokeColor
  • textColor
  • textSize
  • type
  • userName
  • value
  • valueAsString

Methods

  • buttonGetCaption
  • buttonImportIcon, parameters are not supported
  • buttonSetCaption
  • checkThisBox
  • clearItems
  • defaultIsChecked
  • deleteItemAt, nIdx is required
  • getArray
  • getItemAt
  • insertItemAt
  • isBoxChecked
  • setFocus
  • setItems

event Object

Properties

  • change
  • changeEx
  • name
  • rc
  • selStart
  • selEnd
  • source
  • target
  • targetName
  • type
  • value
  • willCommit
doc Object

Properties

  • calculate
  • numFields
  • numPages
  • pageNum
  • URL, can be used in combination with ” pdfefile://” scheme to transfer data to a form.

Methods

  • calculateNow
  • deletePages
  • getField
  • getNthFieldName
  • gotoNamedDest
  • mailDoc
  • mailForm
  • submitForm, supported cSubmitAs values: FDF, XFDF, HTML, PDF.
  • resetForm

app Object

Methods

  • alert
  • launchURL
  • mailMsg
  • openDoc, Ignores all parameters except “cPath”. cPath is a relative path according to the current document. Returns null.

util Object

Methods

  • printd
  • printf
  • printx
  • scand, Note that Fluix is more strict than Acrobat Pro to correspondence cDate to cFormat.

3. Custom JS API

 

flx_CopyPage(nSourcePage, nPage)

Copies a source page and inserts it into a document after specified page index. Defined on a document level.

This function represents a simplified routine of manually copying & pasting a single page via page manager in Fluix iOS app (available since app v. 2.36).

Arguments:

  • nSourcePage – (required) the zero-based index of the page to copy
  • nPage – (required) the zero-based index of the page after which the copied page is inserted (-1 means before the first page)

Return Value: The function returns boolean result of the operation

Side effect: Function may display alerts using standard app.alert() PDF JavaScript method (NOTE: The function fails silently in case invalid page indices are passed as arguments)

4. Workflow JS API

app.fluixUser

This property can be used to pre-fill/get User full name, User Group(s) and Company name

The property app.fluixUser contains the following keys:

  1. fullName — user full name in Fluix
  2. companyName — company name in Fluix
  3. groups — the array of groups (strings)

fluixShouldSubmit

This is a special function fluixShouldSubmit(submitRuleName) which should be defined on a document level.

Fluix calls this function upon document submit on device of User App (e.g. to validate the fields, user groups, etc.)

Argument: The only function argument is a string, the name of submit rule from admin portal

Return Value: The function should return boolean true when submit is allowed or false if not.

Side effect: Function may display alerts using standard app.alert() PDF JavaScript method. Alerts may contain Yes / No buttons that could allow PDF author to display non-fatal warning.

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