Forms
Us
HELIX 2006 Presentation (H082)
Diane Richmond
Diane Richmond - SunGard Higher Education
We’d like our
on the web
Diane Richmond - SunGard Higher Education
Technologies You’ll Hear
Word Doc – to download
PDF …and later FDF
HTML submitted to an e-mail
Form “handlers” or cgi scripts
Dynamic programming languages
asp
php
asp.NET
 Database backing
 MS SQL
 mySQL
 Oracle
 Getting really “jiggy with it”
 xml, ajax, fdf
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Diane Richmond - SunGard Higher Education
Which is the “right” one?
 Standards
 Proprietary systems
 Expertise on site
 Resources
WHAT DOES THE CLIENT
WANT THE FORM TO DO?
Diane Richmond - SunGard Higher Education
Communication is the
 Like all good relationships…
 Don’t let the client SUGGEST a solution
 Let them talk a LOT
 Guide the discussion – especially if a skilled
project manager is not the one meeting with
the client
Diane Richmond - SunGard Higher Education
A Series of Questions
 Build a matrix
 A conditional web app
 A flow chart
 OR SOMETHING to guide this process
 Here is a simplified sample…
Diane Richmond - SunGard Higher Education
Client’s Form
PDF Form
Yes
HTML
or
PDF
Fill-In
Matches Paper
Version at
What Point
Must Match Paper
Version
Print-Out
No
HTML Form
(PHP, ASP, Etc.)
A Word of Caution - Workflow
 If there IS a paper version…

What is the workflow of the paper version?



This MAY be a detailed discussion which
eventually demonstrates problem areas and the
need for a “new” system
My husband refers to this as the “Oh, [email protected]
factor
Is there a plan for how the new
web version will fit into
that workflow?
Diane Richmond - SunGard Higher Education
HTML Forms
 Great if…

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Form questions change often by content
owners, but functionality remains constant
Page layout, template must match other web
pages as opposed to print pages
There is frequent need to change the form
The form is quite complex; i.e. has many
pages/sections or is completed in stages.
The form data can be submitted online
Diane Richmond - SunGard Higher Education
Eric Coffman says…
Forms have long been and will continue to be a central part of any interactive site.
Collecting information from a form has been solved, first by posting the data to
an e-mail address, then by using Common Gateway Interface (CGI) scripts, and
currently by using other server-side technologies, such as ASPs. Collecting and
storing this data into a database is a fairly simple process and even
prepopulating a form with user-specific data via session variables or cookies has
become a sort of standard. Though we are deep within the Information Age, we
still require forms to be printed out and physically signed. Perhaps in 10 years or
so everyone will have a digital signature and this will no longer be necessary.
But, until that day we are faced with a kind of dilemma -- How to present a
form that is connectable to a database and that can be printed for
signature or other purposes. Along comes Adobe's Portable Document
Format (PDF) which is both printable and transportable. On top of this
they have added a layer called Forms Data Format (FDF), which is very
similar and similar to HTML form elements.
Eric Coffman
8/22/2001
“15 Seconds: Advanced Form Presentation and Printing w/PDF, FDF, ASP, and DHTML – Part 1”
Diane Richmond - SunGard Higher Education
PDF/FDF Forms
 Great if…
 Form must be available on the web, but
printed out for signatures and or processing
 Form must visually match a paper form that
already exists

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If this only a print-out issue, a non-PDF form
could be used to produce a printable PDF
The form data can be submitted online


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Sent to an e-mail address as a complete PDF
Form data deposited in database
Variations…
Diane Richmond - SunGard Higher Education
PDFs are not just for printing anymore…
PDF forms can be useful for submitting and collecting
information over the Web. This is done by providing
several button actions that perform functions similar
to HTML scripting macros. You must have a CGI
application on the Web server to collect and route the
data to a database. Any existing CGI application that
collects from forms (in HTML, FDF, or XML format)
can be used.
…See the FDF Toolkit Overview on the Adobe Web site.
From the Complete Acrobat 6.0 Help
Diane Richmond - SunGard Higher Education
How do I get that data?
About Acrobat form data
Acrobat can submit data from PDF forms in a variety of formats:
 FDF exports as an FDF file. You can choose to export the form fields
data comments, incremental changes to the PDF, or all three.

HTML exports as an HTML file.

XFDF exports as an XML file. You can choose to export the form fields
data, comments, or both.

PDF exports the entire PDF file that is your form. Although this creates
a larger file than the FDF option, it is useful for preserving digital
signatures.

From the Complete Acrobat 7.0 Help.
Diane Richmond - SunGard Higher Education
Acrobat Forms Tutorial
 Start with a Word or InDesign or Publisher
or…

A few hints here


Don’t draw boxes or circles, etc. at this point
Don’t draw lines in multi-line text boxes
 Convert, distill, capture, or print to PDF
 Author your fields
 Sample Doc
Diane Richmond - SunGard Higher Education
References/Resources
 Never hurts to go to the obvious…
 http://www.adobe.com/products/acrobat/
 Detailed step-by-steps
 http://www.adobe.com/education/pdf/cib/acro7/acro7_c
ib_14.pdf
 Looking for moving pictures? Here’s a video tutorial
 http://www.adobe.com/products/acrobatpro/vector/form
s_movie.html
Diane Richmond - SunGard Higher Education
Resources/References
Really old articles, but conceptually VERY helpful :
 http://www.15seconds.com/Issue/010822.htm (part I)
 http://www.15seconds.com/issue/010823.htm (part II)
 http://www.15seconds.com/issue/990902.htm
 http://www.planetpdf.com/developer/article.asp?Cont
entID=6492
 http://www.planetpdf.com/developer/article.asp?conte
ntid=6480&ra
Diane Richmond - SunGard Higher Education
Resources/References
My favorite non-Adobe (make that “MacroDobe”)
support site:
 http://www.planetpdf.com
Diane Richmond - SunGard Higher Education
Contact Info
 Diane Richmond
 Web Services Manager
 Truman State University – Kirksville, MO
 SunGard Higher Education
 Office Phone: 660-785-7191

Email: [email protected]

HELIX Session H082
Presentation Available at:
http://its.truman.edu/webservices/helix
Diane Richmond - SunGard Higher Education
Diane Richmond - SunGard Higher Education
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