Now that you’ve had some time to check out the Adobe FormsCentral service and poke around the form-building environment, let’s get to talking details about how best to use it. Over the next few days, you’ll see some posts come up here that dive into some of the features of FormsCentral. Today, we’ll talk about creating your form and the tools that’ll help you do it; next week, we’ll carry on with testing and distributing your form, and finally we’ll take a look at analyzing all the data you garner over the course of your form’s life. For now, read on for the down-low on form creation in FormsCentral.
Let’s begin in the FormsCentral dashboard; this is the first thing you see when you log in. We have two options for creating a new form file: we can either start from scratch by selecting “New Form”, or we can load a template form and customize it to match our requirements and style. Regardless of which option you choose, when you create a new form you’ll be adding it as a form file to your FormsCentral organizer; it will also appear in your Acrobat.com organizer if you’ve got an account over there. When it opens up for the first time (this is once you’ve hit “New Form” or opened the template), you’ll find yourself in the Design tab; there are three other tabs along the top, all contained within this one form file, but we’ll get to those in later posts. For now, let’s splash around in Design to see what we can do with this form.
The first thing with which to familiarize yourself is the Forms Palette. This little tool bar will become your best friend whenever you’re making a new form. It persistently floats below the final element on your form (whatever that element may be), waiting patiently for you to choose the next element to add. The palette makes it amazingly easy to add questions and helpful structure to your FormsCentral forms: you just point and click, and the element (whether drop-down list or multiple selection question) appears in your form immediately above the palette. You can drag and drop these elements to place them in your form, or you can pull the palette up to where you’d like to add a new element by clicking on that little blue plus sign that appears to the left of any existing element when it’s selected.
While we have an element selected, make note of that little properties box that appears over to the right side of your form; this is where you can add even more intelligence to a particular question, whether it’s adding help text for your respondents or opting to include an “Other” choice on single- or multiple-choice questions.
The take-home point here is really that your form is entirely under your control; you can customize every little piece of it—from font to text size and color to page color to extra intelligence to the images you want to include. There are also structural choices to make, such as where the label for each question will live (above the answer field or to the side?) and what the form’s header will look like (color! size! image and text, or just one or the other!).
Plus, any time you open the form’s Design tab, you can go back to tweak colors here and there, edit the whole thing, or just admire your handiwork. Whether you’re customizing a template from our pre-loaded collection of forms or starting from the very beginning, you can use FormsCentral to create forms that will look great on just about any device on which it’ll be filled out. Check back in with us next week when we’ll be talking about testing and distributing the forms you design.
Have you been trying FormsCentral? Let us know what you’ve come up with! If you have a really great-looking form that you’d like to show off, get in touch with us by commenting below or sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Great to hear from you!