Collecting data from forms

Via hardcopy printout

This is a simple fill-in and print to hardcopy solution. This is great if your form recipients are located together, perhaps in the same office.

  • If using Adobe® Reader®, any completed form data will be lost when you close your completed PDF form. Exceptions exist when using Standard or Professional software.

Within the PDF file

Alternatively, it is possible to store form data within the PDF Form itself by using the Save or Save As… command. One condition of this is that the form recipient must be using one of the following versions of Acrobat software:

  • Adobe® Acrobat® 6.0 (or later) Standard or Professional.

  • Adobe® Acrobat® 7.0 (or later) Elements.

  • Adobe® Reader® software (6.0 and above) is unable to save form data within the form. However, for form recipients with Adobe® Reader® 7.0 software, Reader Extensions software is available from which will permit form data to be saved locally with the form. This is called rights-based PDF Form handling.

Using email

If you can save data within the PDF form then it’s clear that you can email the completed form to the form originator. With the completed form still open, use File>E-mail to send the email to the intended recipient.

Via the web

Your PDF Form can be configured to be web ready by passing completed form data to a CGI application on a web server. This would typically be a server-sided web page designed to process the data and pass it to either a text file, database or other storage location. As an example, new subscriber details, collected via a PDF Form, can be sent automatically to a previously configured “subscribers” database.

All web-ready forms have one thing in common—they must be submitted to allow data to be collected. Typically, you may have come across this on web sites when you enter details into a form then submit the data by pressing a Submit button. The same applies for PDF forms—a Submit button can be configured in order to submit the form data to the web server. You can either create the button unaided or use the Form Submit Wizard. Either way, the use of the submit process is the major difference between web-ready and other less dynamic forms.

The web process, as mentioned, requires a web server to operate. Not everyone will have access to or even want to operate their own web server so, as an alternative to this, you can use Serif Web Resources. This is a free web to email gateway service which will collect your valued form data at Serif and send it to your email address—the service does require that you firstly have a Customer login (for security reasons), which will allow you to create, edit and delete Form IDs via a web page accessible from the Wizard. The Form ID, a unique 30-digit number, is required for the service to operate and is generated automatically when you enter your destination email address in the above web page.

  • No personal data will be stored on Serif web servers. All form data is redirected in real time.

Submitting Form Data

The submission of form data sounds a very complicated operation but by using a Form Submit Wizard the process is relatively straightforward. The Wizard not only creates a Submit button for your form, but configures the underlying submit process and the format in which your form data is to be stored in.

The submit process is made either to Serif Web Resources or to your own web server address (e.g.,

Form data can be stored in HTML, FDF, XFDF, and PDF data formats.

Data Format

via Serif Web Resources

To Web Server


ASCII. The form data can be read directly in your email without acrobat software.

ASCII. Use for sending form data directly to the Server-sided Databases, as in web forms.


The form data is emailed as an attachment, and when opened, is reunited with the original form to allow data to be read In Situ.

binary. The form data can be stored on the web server.


As for FDF but with additional XML-based support.

binary. The form data can be stored on the web server.


Not available.

binary. The form data can be stored on the web server. Useful for preserving digital signatures.

To run the Form Submit Wizard:

  1. Select the PagePlus tbr form submitbutton Collecting data from forms Submit Button from the Button flyout menu on the Form toolbar.

  2. In the first step, start the wizard by clicking the Next> button.

  3. Choose either Serif Web Resources or your own server as the destination of your form recipient’s data. The former is appropriate if you don’t have access to your own web server. Depending on your choice, you can:

  1. For Serif Web Resources, click Next>.

  2. Click the Get a Form ID button to display Serif’s customer login web page. This page is where you log onto
    your customer account to enter firstly your email address to send form data to, and secondly to generate a unique Form ID for use in the secure email communication.

  3. At the web page, if you already have a customer login you can enter your email address and password. For new customer you must register before continuing.

  4. After login, select the add form link to enter the email address that you want your form data to be sent to.

  5. Click the Add Form button. This generates an entry in the displayed list from which a 30-digit Form ID can be copied.

  6. Paste the Form ID directly from the web page into the input field in your Wizard dialog.

  7. Click the Next> button.

  8. Select a Data format from the drop-down menu that you would like to store and transport your form data. Select one of: HTML, FDF, or XFDF (see above).

    – or -

  1. For your own web server, click Next>.

  2. Add your Web Server address to the displayed field, click Next>.
    NOTE: this should not be a file directory but a valid website on the Intranet/Internet.

  3. Choose a data format for exporting the form data. Select one of: HTML, FDF, PDF or XFDF (see above). NOTE: You must ensure that your server is able to process the above data formats.

  1. Finish the Wizard process by clicking the Finish button.

  2. Move your PagePlus cur pictureimport Collecting data from forms cursor to the location for your button and click once.

  3. The Submit button settings can be edited (as for other form fields) by right-clicking and selecting Form Field Properties. This will allow form fields to be included/excluded from data collection.

  4. PagePlus tbr form resetbutton Collecting data from formsReset buttons are also created from the Button flyout menu.

Importing form data (FDF only)

It’s possible to import form data which has previously been submitted into another PDF Form. The original form data must have been submitted in FDF format. A great way of doing this is to create a button, which when pressed will automatically populate the form fields on your PDF Form. This means the form originator can exactly replicate how the form was originally filled in—a very important feature when dealing with contractual, legal or financial forms.

To create an import button:

  1. Select the PagePlus tbr form webbutton Collecting data from forms Button option from the Form toolbar.

  2. Move your PagePlus cur pictureimport Collecting data from forms cursor to the location for your button and click once.

  3. Right-click on the button and choose Form Field Properties from the drop-down menu.

  4. Overwrite the current Name with, e.g. “import”. This assigns an internal name to the form field.

  5. Go to the Options tab, and choose enter a new Caption name. Enter a suitable import text, e.g. “Import Form Data”.

  6. Go to the Actions tab and click the Add button. This adds the action to the list.

  7. In the resulting Action dialog, ensure that On MouseUp is selected as an Event.

  8. Choose Import form data as an Action from the drop-down menu.

  1. Click the Browse… button and navigate to the FDF file that is to be imported.

  2. Click the OK button.

Understanding export values

Export values are used in web-ready forms where menu items in Combo or List Box can be assigned a unique value. The export value is passed to and interpreted by the web server when the form is submitted. If no export value is set then the menu item name is used.

  • You only need to set the Export value if you are sending the data to a web-enabled database across your Intranet or the Internet.

Export values can be modified in Form Field Properties, Options tab for the above control types.

For example, a Combo box may have replacement export values assigned as well as the menu items:

Menu item

Export Value

Apples (2kilo) bag


Apples (3kilo) bag


Apples (4kilo) bag


Apples (10kilo) box


Apples (15ki
lo) box


Apples (20kilo) box


Collecting data from forms