By Laurie Hazard
Many educators have heard about the wonderful ways you can use Adobe Acrobat to create classroom materials like worksheets, forms and portfolios. Don’t get me wrong. This is really cool stuff. But today I want to talk about a hidden gem. Bundled with your Windows version of Acrobat Pro or Acrobat Pro Extended is a lesser known, elegant and robust application called LiveCycle Designer ES. LC Designer is a full-featured form design application that enables you to create electronic forms using a WYSIWYG (what you see is what you get) interface. I will be honest here. LC Designer is not for the novice user. If all you want to do is take an MS Word document, convert it and make a nifty form, then by all means use the Form Wizard in Acrobat. But if you want more form options, a more flexible layout, and the ability to easily edit your form design, then you really should give LC Designer a test drive.
Last year, I was asked to make changes to our school’s progress report card. I had previously created the progress report card in MS Word and then used Acrobat’s Form Wizard to create a pdf form. This seemed to be a great solution until I had to make changes to the content in the progress report card. Of course, I couldn’t edit the text in the pdf document. To make the necessary changes I had to revise the original MS Word document, convert it to pdf and then create all of the form fields again. I had close to 80 form fields in the progress report card and I wasn’t happy about having to create them again. Clearly, I needed a different product to tackle this job. Out of desperation I scoured my hard drive for something else and stumbled across LC Designer. With LC Designer I was able to create all the elements I needed in my form from scratch, including static text, design elements and a wide variety of form fields. I had more control over the layout and functionality of the form, and best of all, it was a breeze to edit when I needed to make changes after publishing the form. The following screenshots show the LiveCycle interface and what the final progress report card looks like in Adobe Reader.