How to make a PDF form and capture data using Acrobat 7

Learn how to create a form that allows recipients with the free Reader to save their form data to a database.

By January 23, 2006


Is it possible to design a PDF form with Adobe Acrobat 7 Pro. that includes 1) live form fields so recipients with Reader can fill out the form online, and 2) the data to be saved to a database? Is JavaScript necessary to do this?

The answer depends on where your database resides. The code to communicate with a local database (JavaScript using ADBC) is not available in Reader. However, if you have a requirement to write to a local database, you can create the form with Adobe LiveCycle Designer (included with Acrobat 7 Professional and Acrobat 3D) and then extend your PDF form with Adobe LiveCycle Reader Extensions. Now, any recipient with Adobe Reader 7.x can communicate directly with your local database via ODBC.

If you plan to host the database on a server, the answer is yes. Adobe Reader (back to version 3.x) will allow you to 'submit' the data to a backend server where you can use server-side script to manipulate the data, including populating a database.

For both options, JavaScript coding would be the method. If you do decide to use Adobe LiveCycle Designer to create your form, I would recommend you take a look at this tip which demonstrates how to connect a PDF form to a local database:

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