Form with Function: Reader Enabling Your PDF Forms

Continued from part one.

The purpose of the Forms Extension for APDFL is to allow you to expand the capacity of the Adobe PDF Library to work with PDF forms documents that you already have.

If you have received 10,000 completed and saved PDF form documents from customers and prospects, you could use the Forms Extension to export the data from these forms into an XML file so that you can load the data into a database. You can flatten these files to turn them into regular PDF documents, and if you have a set of old XFA forms documents you can convert them into PDF AcroForm files. And you can import data into an existing set of forms documents, such as to populate name and address fields with customer contact records.

But what if you want to create new PDF forms documents to distribute?

You can use Adobe Acrobat to create a new PDF form, but keep in mind, for the form document to work—to have a PDF form that a customer or prospect can fill out, save, and return to you—the PDF form probably needs to be Reader Enabled.

Reader Enablement is a process that sets up a PDF document so that a user can open it in the free Adobe Reader tool and have rights, in Reader, to edit that PDF document. With a PDF document enabled for use in Adobe Reader, a user can open the PDF, complete the fields, sign the document, save it, and then send it back to you. Reader Enablement also makes it possible to work with a bar code on a PDF form document. With Reader Enablement, when a user completes and saves a PDF form, the Adobe Reader software can automatically add the values that the user entered on the form to a bar code attached to that document. Then, especially if the form is printed before returning it to the sender, the sender can scan the bar code and read the data found in the form. Manually retyping the values on the page is not needed.

There are three ways to apply Reader Enablement to a PDF form document:

  • You can open the completed PDF Form in Adobe Acrobat and save it as Reader In Adobe Acrobat DC, select File, Save as Other, Reader Extended PDF, and Enable More Tools. Note that this is not always necessary. For example, if you want to use a 2D bar code on a PDF form, it must be Reader Enabled.
  • Send the document to Datalogics and let us process it for you. We will use the Adobe Extension Reader Enablement (AERE) tool to apply Reader Enablement to your file, save it, and return it to you. In this case, you can download as many PDF form documents as you like, but how much you pay us depends on how many files you want us to Reader Enable, and how many people you expect to receive and complete these forms. The AERE online tool is based on our PDF Java Toolkit product, but the advantage of using AERE is that you don’t have to install the software on your own network, because you are effectively using PDF Java Toolkit remotely.
  • Purchase and install PDF Java Toolkit and process your PDF forms yourself using the RELite command line tool provided with the If you use your own copy of PDF Java Toolkit, you retain full control of the PDF files in your workflow and can process as many PDF forms documents as you need to as part of a batch process. This would be the most efficient and cost-effective approach if you have a large number of PDF forms to Reader Enable, and if you need to manage all of your files and data internally, in order to guarantee the security of your content.

At Datalogics, we offer a comprehensive approach to working with PDF forms documents. Stay tuned for the next post, which will further expand on XFA and AcroForm. Please visit to get a free trial of our forms enhancement products.

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