RedBear asks: "It is common these days for government agencies to offer official forms online as fillable PDF forms. What is not so common is for them to offer 'rights-enabled' versions of these PDF forms that can be filled, saved locally and changed using free the Adobe Acrobat Reader PDF software. I'm sure many of you have experienced this phenomenon: You take the time to fill in a PDF form online and then discover that the only way to retain your changes is to print it. What cross-platform methods exist to allow common users to save filled PDF forms in a way that will allow easy future editing, without costing hundreds of dollars? FOSS software is of course preferable, and cross-platform between at least Mac and Windows is essential.""The main problem is this: At a small non-profit I do tech support, for it would cost hundreds of dollars to outfit just a few client computers with the full version of Adobe Acrobat, which is the only way to let their users save and update the government PDF forms they use. The official Adobe method for creating 'rights-enabled' PDF forms is currently by using Adobe LiveCycle Reader Extensions. As is typical for 'enterprise' software, you won't easily find a price for it online, only a link to contact Adobe. A line on this page that says something about it costing 'several thousands of dollars'. Talks with the document creators (state government agency) to get them to create 'rights-enabled' versions of these documents have predictably gone nowhere. I thought PDF was a relatively open format, so the question is what alternatives exist to let small agencies, or even individuals, either save the forms in a portable/re-editable manner with some inexpensive extra software or completely bypass the restrictions the same way that LiveCycle Reader Extensions does?
Adobe notes that LiveCycle Reader Extensions enables 'hidden functionality' in Adobe Acrobat Reader software. I'm assuming this doesn't mean just flipping a bit in the file, or this would already be easy to do with some third-party software. I'm also assuming that PDF password crackers have nothing to do with adding this functionality. Last but not least I'm assuming that even if a rights-enabled PDF document is obtained the additional functionality of saving and re-editing forms will only work in Adobe Acrobat Reader and not in other free PDF viewer applications like Apple's Preview.app, xpdf, Foxit PDF Reader, etc. This last isn't really a technical problem since Acrobat Reader 5.1 or later is available for Mac, Win32 and Linux. Any corrections to the above assumptions would be very welcome.
Alternatives we have found so far:
- A website that offers inexpensive conversion of the PDF document into a rights-enabled version. Would have to be used for every form and every new version of the form that came out. Anyone used this service? Is it legit and/or legal? How are they doing the conversion? If they can do it, why can't we do it locally? What exactly is involved with creating a rights-enabled PDF anyway?
- One cross-platform commercial software product (pdf-FormServer)that seems to offer the ability to save and re-edit PDF forms for under $45 per computer. Available for Mac OS X and Windows. A lot cheaper than Acrobat but would still need to be on every computer used by clients. Not cheap for a non-profit on a shoe-string budget. Anyone using this software care to comment? How seamless is it?
Note that all links have been coralized, so remove '.nyud.net:8090' from the domain name if you really want to /. the original website."