Previewing as Dynamic PDF

Have you ever lived through the frustration of previewing a form on which you’ve written a simple little script to affect the presence of an object when a button is clicked and pulling your hair out because you keep clicking on the button and nothing happens (object doesn’t disappear, there’s no error message, etc.)? Or maybe you’ve been in a situation where you’ve added script to a button in order to “insert a new instance of a repeatable subform”: and while clicking on the button doesn’t produce one, the submitted XML data file contains entries for each new instance that was added?

Even if you haven’t, it may happen someday so here’s the remedy for the case of the “Common (Static PDF) Flue”…

In Designer, there are two different locations containing settings which affect the type of temporary PDF file created when you click on the Preview tab:

# Under the “File Options” section within the “Document Handling” panel of the “Tools | Options” dialog, you can set the _Default File Type for New Forms_. This type is used on new forms which you preview *prior* to saving (because Designer doesn’t know which format you’ll use at the time of preview). This is set to a static PDF format by default.
# Even if you’ve specified a dynamic PDF format for the _Default File Type for New Forms_, this setting may be overridden by the _Preview Type_ and _XDP Preview Format_ properties in the “File | Form Properties” dialog in the “Defaults” panel once you’ve saved your form. The _Preview Type_ property, set to “Interactive” by default, determines whether the form will be previewed as an interactive (dynamic) form or as a print (static) form. This property supersedes the PDF format. The _XDP Preview Format_ property usually picks-up the _Default File Type for New Forms_ setting and determines what PDF format will be used to preview your form should it be saved as an XDP. (Note that if you’ve saved your form as a PDF file, then the _XDP Preview Format_ setting is ignored).

Now that we’ve covered the different properties which affect the PDF preview format, here’s how to kick that flue I was talking about earlier (so that you actually do preview in a dynamic PDF format and stop pulling your hair out):

# If you haven’t saved your form, make sure the _Preview Type_ is set to “Interactive” and that the _Default File Type for New Forms_ is set to a dynamic PDF format. You may also want to set the _XDP Preview Format_ to a dynamic PDF format while you’re at it.
# If you’ve saved your form as a _dynamic_ PDF, make sure the _Preview Type_ is set to “Interactive”.
# If you’ve saved your form as a _static_ PDF, none of these settings will help you. You must first save your form as a dynamic PDF.
# If you’ve saved your form as an XDP, make sure the _Preview Type_ is set to “Interactive” and the _XDP Preview Format_ is set to a dynamic PDF format.
# If you’re tired of running into these problems and want to avoid them in the future, just set your _Default File Type for New Forms_ to a dynamic PDF format.

I hope this tip improves your form design health. It did wonders for me!

~*Updated:* January 27, 2007~

3 Responses to Previewing as Dynamic PDF

  1. cd says:

    Blessings on you & yours, Stefan! I’m starting to feel better already.

  2. Ram Mohan Boddula says:

    Does this help in client side database lookup while working with Adobe Reader? I have a template that pulls data from a client database. Currently I am unable to preview my template in Reader as I am receiving “Array Index Out of Bounds” error. I am able to preview this pdf on machine with Acrobat Professional as the default for viewing PDFs.Doesn’t client side lookups work with Reader (before putting any special privileges into the document) from with in the Designer?Do I have to have “Acrobat Professional” during the development of forms that do client side database lookup?Appreciate your help.

  3. Ram,This article won’t help you out with client-side database look-ups.In short, you need Acrobat Standard or Pro to import data into forms regardless of proximity.I think my article on importing data in Acrobat might answer a few of your questions in this regard.