PDF Forms Detector

PDF Forms Detector

There are different types of forms that can be inside a PDF. While they may appear the same when viewed in Adobe Reader, these forms have different internal structure, and are compatible with different forms processing tools and techniques.

If you are developing or supporting a forms-based workflow, or just want to troubleshoot a problem you’re having with a form, the first step is often just determining which type of forms technology you’re using.

This PDF Forms Detector is a simple online tool which allows you to upload your PDF and see what type of form exists within it. It is built upon our PDF Java Toolkit and demonstrates some of the capabilities of that SDK.


Upload your file via the button below and the PDF Forms Detector will determine whether a form exists in your PDF, and if so which type:

  • AcroForm – This is the original interactive forms technology introduced by Adobe in 1996. Internally, AcroForms fields are defined through dictionaries of PDF objects and can be created in Acrobat. They support submitting, resetting, and importing data. The “submit” action transmits the names and values of selected interactive form fields to a specified uniform resource locator (URL).
  • Static XFA Form – XFA, or XML Forms Architecture, is an XML-based forms architecture introduced by Adobe in 2003 (with PDF version 1.5). Internally, forms objects are represented in XML, and creating XFA forms for use in Adobe Reader requires Adobe LiveCycle Designer. Static XFA Forms contain a predefined set of form fields which display in a predetermined fashion. XFA Forms are not compatible with Adobe Reader prior to version 6.
  • Dynamic XFA Form – In Dynamic XFA Forms, the arrangement and appearance of the form can be made dependent upon the data as it is entered: a parts list table can “grow” additional rows as data is entered, for example, or additional form fields can appear as a result of data entered earlier in the form. Dynamic XFA Forms were introduced in the XFA 2.1 Specification.