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6. Dynamic PDF > 75. Serve Filled-Out PDF Forms

Serve Filled-Out PDF Forms

Populate online PDF forms with known data.

To maintain form data, you must display the current state of the data to the user. This enables the user to review the data, update a single field, and submit this change back to the server. With HTML forms, you can set field values as the form is served to the user. With PDF forms, you can use the Forms Data Format (FDF) to populate a form’s fields with data, as shown in Figure 6-5.

Driving PDF forms with active data
Figure 6-5. Driving PDF forms with active data

FDF, the Forms Data Format

The PDF Reference [Hack #98] describes the FDF file format. Its syntax uses PDF objects Section 6.8[Hack #80] to organize data. To see an example, open your PDF form in Acrobat and fill in some fields. Export this data as FDF by selecting Advanced Forms Export Forms Data . . . (Acrobat 6) or File Export Form Data . . . (Acrobat 5). Our basic PDF form [Hack #74] yields an FDF file that lists fields in name/value pairs and then references the PDF form by filename:


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