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I am using the eforms package in order to build pdf fillable forms. However there is something I haven't found yet, which Adobe product do I need to purchase in order to save the edited forms? Does anyone know if I can use something for free?

I would like to create the forms using LaTeX and then offer them through our website to our customers. They should be able to complete them with their details, save them and send them back to us. We don't want our customers to buy anything extra in order to fill in a form. We just want them to open the pdf using Acrobat Reader, edit it and then send it to us.

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Are you interested in saving the fillable PDF so that you can modify any edits already made at some later stage? –  Werner Sep 28 '11 at 23:26
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I would like to create the forms using latex and then offer them through our website to our customers. They should be able to complete them with their details, save them and send them back to us. –  Dimitris Sep 29 '11 at 8:44
    
+1 I want this feature too. –  Alexey Malistov Sep 29 '11 at 9:22
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You may already know this, but just to be sure: the "savability" of a PDF form is a document property. If you create a form in any app you can open it in Acrobat (Pro) and make it savable within any other reader. So you only need one app for yourself, not one to distribute to users. I don't think this can be done on the TeX side, though. –  Matthew Leingang Sep 29 '11 at 10:47
    
Yes I do understand that saving a pdf form is not something I can control from latex. I was just interested to find out what is the best and cheapest option to be honest that most people use out there. –  Dimitris Sep 29 '11 at 10:58
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5 Answers

Update

The new version Adobe Reader XI allows to save the filled-out version of any form - special treatment with the commercial Adobe Acrobat thus isn't necessary any more.

Please fill out the following form. You can save data typed into this form.


The original answer

You can create fillable forms with hyperref which can be filled out in the free Adobe Reader and send back to you by e-mail. A minimal example would be (replace forms@stackexchange.invalid by your own e-mail address):

\documentclass{article}
\usepackage{hyperref}
\begin{document}
\begin{Form}[action=mailto:forms@stackexchange.invalid?subject={The submitted form},method=post]
    \noindent\TextField[name=name]{Name:}\\[1mm]
    \ChoiceMenu[radio,name=gender]{Gender:}{male=male,female=fem}\\[1mm]
    \TextField[name=email,width=5cm]{E-mail:}\\[5mm]
    \Reset{Reset} \quad \Submit{Submit} \quad  \Acrobatmenu{Print}{Print}
\end{Form}
\end{document}

form as displayed by Adobe Reader

Your customers can fill the form, and by pressing the Submit button, an e-mail will be sent to you with an attachment called <filename>.fdf which contains all the provided data.

You can examine this file using e.g. the free PDF-XChange Viewer: Open the PDF file containing the form, select File->Form Data->Import Data to Form... and open the e-mail attachment you received. Now all the form fields will be filled with the results. (Update: You can even use Adobe Reader X itself: Just open the PDF file containing the form and double-click on the .fdf file afterwards. You may have to accept to trust the document with the yellow notification bar on top, then the form fields will display the results.)

The advantage of this solution is that it doesn't require your customers to install an additional program: They can use the Adobe Reader which is installed on many systems by default. You can even create forms that sends the results directly to a script running on your server to store it e.g. in a database - see the hyperref manual for more details.

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Thanks that sounds like a very good option. We don't want our customers to buy anything extra in order to fill in a form. We just want them to open the pdf using Acrobat Reader, edit it and then send it to us. –  Dimitris Sep 29 '11 at 10:57
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One problem that I ran into when using this solution in the past is that the customer must have email configured on their computer. These days when lot of people use webmail of some sort, many computers do not even have a working email setup, and are not able to submit a form like this. –  Jan Hlavacek Sep 29 '11 at 11:28
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@JanHlavacek My version of Adobe Reader (10.1.1, Windows) presents a dialogue after clicking Submit where I can choose whether I want to use the standard e-mail client or a browser-based one - if I select the latter, I can save the attachment to a file in order to attach it to an e-mail manually later on. Maybe you chose the first option earlier and selected "Do not show this again"? –  diabonas Sep 29 '11 at 11:36
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@diabonas Interesting, that seems to be a relatively new feature. I have Adobe reader 9 and it tries to do the same, however, for some reason instead of starting my email program, it starts Google chrome. It seems to have some issues. Older versions of Adobe reader did not present you this choice, they just tried to start you email program. Strangely, they always worked fine for me, and did start the correct email program. Back when we used pdf forms, though, I had number of people complaining they cant use them because of the issue I described before. –  Jan Hlavacek Sep 30 '11 at 3:51
    
You pdf-document is good but I can not save fillable forms. –  Alexey Malistov Sep 30 '11 at 13:57
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If you want Adobe Reader to be able to save the filled-in PDFs (i.e. enable saving of forms in Adobe Reader), you have to buy Adobe Acrobat and create the PDFs with it (using some options I don't have handy). Acrobat then digitally signs the PDF so that Adobe Reader enables form saving (Adobe LifeCycle Reader Extensions). You can also enable other features of Adobe Reader (like saving comments to PDFs) this way.

As mentioned there are other PDF manipulating programs that also allow this, but not with Adobe software.

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In my experience PDF-XChange Viewer seems to be the best freeware solution for working with fillable PDF forms. (It's not open source, though.) Forms created with eforms can be opened, filled and saved for later editing. It's for Windows only.

Both Skim and Preview can save filled in forms on OS X.

There doesn't seem to be any satisfactory solution for Linux yet.

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PDF-XChange Viewer works fine under WINE. Not an ideal solution, but it works. –  DevSolar Sep 30 '11 at 10:21
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I use the free PDFCreator (for Windows) to save a copy of such forms. The commercial Adobe product to save such forms is Adobe Acrobat (as opposed to the Adobe Acrobat Reader).

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Does PDFCreator allow you to save a fillable form for use later? I don't think so, since the source page states: "Create PDFs from any program that is able to print." This flattens the PDF, removing any future (re-)fillability (that's a made-up word, by the way). –  Werner Sep 28 '11 at 23:17
    
@Werner: No it doesn't, you're right. It's just a digital back-up so you can look up later what you put in that form before you mailed it. –  doncherry Sep 29 '11 at 6:29
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@doncherry I used to be a big fan of PDFCreator, but the last few times I've tried to download it, it has gotten dinged as having adware in it. –  Canageek 2 days ago
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@Canageek I agree, but I haven’t gotten around to surveying alternatives, and I think if you just click “No, I don’t want anything else with that” often enough during the installation, you actually only get PDFCreator. –  doncherry 2 days ago
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The easy way would be to click the "print" option and create a PS print file of the "filled out" PDF form, which can be converted to PDF later using ps2pdf or any other PDF creator.

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