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6. Dynamic PDF > 77. PDF Form-Filling Sessions

PDF Form-Filling Sessions

Walk your users through the form-filling process.

Collecting information with online forms is an interactive process. We have discussed how to collect form data [Hack #2] and how to drive forms [Hack #75] . Now, let’s use what we know to program an interactive, online form-filling session, such as the one in Figure 6-6 (visit http://www.pdfhacks.com/form_session/ to see this example and download PHP source code).

A PDF form’s dynamic state
Figure 6-6. A PDF form’s dynamic state

Set the Stage

To submit data to your server, the PDF form must be displayed inside a web browser. I recommend displaying it inside an HTML frameset. This enables you to bracket the form with (HTML) instructions and a hyperlinked escape route, so the user won’t feel abandoned or trapped. It also adjusts the user to the idea that this isn’t any old PDF. Most people experience PDF as something to download and print out. Not only will this look different, but also the frameset conceals the PDF’s URL and prevents reflexive downloading.


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