Avoka Blog: Adobe LiveCycle

October 30, 2008

Submitting from a form in PDF Format

Filed under: Designing Forms, LiveCycle — htreisman @ 3:21 pm

When you put a Submit button on a form, you can select either XML or PDF format (as well as some others that we’ll ignore for now.)

  • XML format contains only the data from your form, in XML format.
  • PDF format contains a copy of the form being filled in, as a PDF file.

Submitting as XML always works. However, submitting as PDF may or may not work. Here’s what happens:

  • If you open the form in Acrobat, it will submit correctly as PDF.
  • If you open the form in Reader, it will silently fail when you try to submit. (There will be no warning or error messages – it just doesn’t appear to work. This will not impress your customers 🙂 )

The reason for this is that only Acrobat can create a “new” PDF file; Reader is only for reading existing files. Since you’ve typed new information into the fields on your form, submitting as PDF would effectively create a “new” PDF file and is not allowed in Reader.

You have a number of options for resolving this problem:

  1. Ensure that everyone filling the form has Acrobat rather than Reader. (Difficult to do if this is a public form.)
  2. Buy an Adobe product called LiveCycle Reader Extensions for your form – this will allow you to “extend” the capabilities of Reader to allow it to send the completed form as PDF.
  3. If there are fewer than 500 recipients of your form, there is a limited version of Reader Extensions built into Acrobat. You simply need to convert the form after saving it. Open it in Acrobat, use Forms/Distribute… and select Save for later.
  4. Change from PDF submission to XML. You will either need to:
  • Teach the recipient of the XML how to import the XML data back into a blank copy of the form. Open the original blank form in Acrobat, select Forms/Manage Form Data…/Import Data…
  • Use Adobe LiveCycle on the server (LiveCycle Forms or LiveCycle Output is the product you’ll need) to merge the XML data back into the original blank PDF template.

    For more details on Reader Extensions, check this out:

    What is Reader Extensions?

    If you’d like any further information about Reader Extensions or anything else in this blog post, please contact info-at-avoka.com



    1. Excellent blog! Interesting article and very informative! I will necessarily subscribe for this blog. http://lowsalego.com/map.html

      Comment by bopdilly — November 13, 2008 @ 7:54 pm

    2. Just wondering what this will do for anyone. It doesn’t teach you how to do anything and doesn’t give any examples of anything. Very unuseful.

      Comment by micheal — December 6, 2008 @ 5:33 am

    3. Hi Michael
      I base my blog entries predominantly on questions that come up on the Adobe Forums site. This particular question, in various guises, has come up dozens of times. I’m sorry that you don’t find it very useful, but I think there may be some who do.

      If you have a different topic you’re interested in, let us know, and we’ll consider it for a future blog.

      Comment by htreisman — December 6, 2008 @ 5:06 pm

    4. Thanks Howard – you’ve solved a very frustrating problem. Do you happen to know if you can specify (and if so the format) more than one return email address under the distribute tab?

      Thanks again


      Comment by Bill — January 27, 2009 @ 7:52 pm

      • Hi Bill
        A quick test indicates that if you have multiple submit buttons on your form, you can submit to multiple email addresses – the “Distribute Forms” only seems to care about the first one it finds.
        If you want different types of submission (eg PDF vs XML), then use a regular button (instead of an email button), use a type of “Submit”, and specify the URL as “mailto:[your-email-here]”

        Comment by htreisman — January 27, 2009 @ 9:47 pm

    5. Hi, First of all i like to thank you for your blog. I have been trying for a very long time to make a form so that everybody can fill out the form so that it can be send as a pdf file to the resiever..the above explains it all..I can not believe that they made this so stupid…how easy is it to make a normal button so you can click on it and then send it as pdf as an attachment to a resiever..I looked at a lot of forums but still can’t find an easy solution..maybe you can help me out..(sorry for my english, it is not my native language)

      My best regards,
      Jim (new user)

      Comment by Jim — January 28, 2009 @ 12:53 am

      • Use a regular submit button rather than an email button, and use “mailto:myaddress@myserver.com” as the URL.
        I’ll try to find some time to post a more detailed explanation soon.

        Comment by htreisman — February 9, 2009 @ 8:33 am

        • I used the mailto: function but it did not work…..why?
          It says message has not been sent

          Comment by theo — December 29, 2010 @ 7:56 am

    6. Please can someone help me how to send a filled pdf form via email.Asap

      Comment by theo — December 27, 2010 @ 8:40 pm

      • You don’t provide much information, but I suspect that you’re trying to send a PDF via email. You can only do this in Acrobat, or if you Reader Extend your form.

        Comment by htreisman — February 2, 2011 @ 8:05 am

    7. i used the mailto:myaddress@myserver.com but it did not work

      Comment by theo — December 27, 2010 @ 8:49 pm

    RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URI

    Leave a Reply

    Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

    WordPress.com Logo

    You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

    Google+ photo

    You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

    Twitter picture

    You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

    Facebook photo

    You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


    Connecting to %s

    Create a free website or blog at WordPress.com.

    %d bloggers like this: