Working for Adobe, I have access to Adobe software. Acrobat is a tool I don’t think I would have considered buying before starting with Adobe, but after using it for the last two years, I can say it’s right up there with Microsoft Office as one of the things I’d have to have on a new computer.
I was reminded of this just recently, when I was filling out the Tarion 30 day warranty form for my new house.
I received a paper copy of this form as part of the huge stack of documents I got when the house sale closed, but after compiling a list of ~30 items, I just didn’t feel like writing it all out. That’s where Acrobat comes in.
Fillable forms come in two flavours: XFA and Acroform. Acroform forms are forms where you’ve placed the input fields on the form using Acrobat itself; XFA forms are forms created using the Form Designer tool.
I found the forms online, but they’re not fillable. This is pretty common – form authors create forms using something like Illustrator or InDesign, and then create a PDF from that and just post it online, rather than taking the extra step of importing that into Form Designer and adding fields.
But Acrobat has a feature that’s designed for this specific problem: The Typewriter Tool.
I loaded up the Tarion form, got out my handy typewriter, and filled out the form. Printed it, signed it, and faxed it off.
The nice thing about doing it this way is that as I was filling out the form, quite a few times I had to go back and edit something; if I was filling it out on paper, that would have been impossible. I could have filled out a draft on paper and then copied it to the real form, but that’s just more work.
What would the next best thing have been? Loading a bitmap of the form into PhotoShop and filling it out there, I guess – doable, but not nearly as easy.