Editable PDFs: what Linux software?

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Editable PDFs: what Linux software?

Mike Spencer

Windoes users can fetch forms (such as gov't tax forms) in PDF format,
edit them to the extent of filling in the requested data and save or
email them.

xpdf(1) can't do that.

Is there well know software for Linux that supports doing that with
PDF files intended to handled in that way?  "apropos pdf" doesn't
help.

Lacking that, what software might work for this purpose?  Is there a
parsimonious utility for this or do I have to go to some giant office
suite or publishing package?  Googling around makes it ook like
LibreOffice is the only good solution.

It appears that it's now taken for granted by many institutions that
of course everybody has Windoes software to do this.  Grumble.

--
Michael Spencer                  Nova Scotia, Canada       .~.
                                                           /V\
[hidden email]                                     /( )\
http://home.tallships.ca/mspencer/                        ^^-^^
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Re: Editable PDFs: what Linux software?

Dave Flogeras

On Sat, Jun 27, 2020 at 2:03 AM Mike Spencer <[hidden email]> wrote:

Windoes users can fetch forms (such as gov't tax forms) in PDF format,
edit them to the extent of filling in the requested data and save or
email them.

 
I just went down this rabbit hole in Feb with a form I needed to fill out to contract with DFO.  I couldn't open on my usual goto PDF software (KDE's okular, which is quite full featured otherwise).  I _believe_ I also tried libreoffice to no avail.  This form had some sort of "security/protected" feature set, so that you can't even open it read-only to print unless using the official Adobe software.  Yours may or may not be set up like this.

I waited until I had access to a win machine, and even then got railroaded.  IIRC, after you've edited the document, Adobe software wants to automatically take over and handle emailing it (like it wouldn't just save it).  Since this wasn't my machine, I wasn't about to set up my email on it.  Also, with their history of security vulnerabilities I didn't feel comfortable trusting my SIN and other personal financial info to a black box.

In the end, I just used the windows machine to print it, and filled it in by hand.  I'm sure it angered the people on the other end, but they accepted it.

Isn't technology great?  I'd also be interested to hear if any other opensource package can work around this "feature".
D

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Re: Editable PDFs: what Linux software?

George N. White III
In reply to this post by Mike Spencer
On Sat, 27 Jun 2020 at 02:03, Mike Spencer <[hidden email]> wrote:

Windoes users can fetch forms (such as gov't tax forms) in PDF format,
edit them to the extent of filling in the requested data and save or
email them.

xpdf(1) can't do that.

Many of the intertrash suggestions don't use the Adobe forms support, but
just add text boxes.  These may print correctly, but Adobe forms are intended
to be processed by software that converts the entries to some database
record.  Some organizations will do the conversions manually (probably
using some offshore contractor that can't be trusted with your details).

Is there well know software for Linux that supports doing that with
PDF files intended to handled in that way?  "apropos pdf" doesn't
help.

There are many ways to create PDF forms, some use scripts that
are specific to Windows, but there is a "standard" that many
government forms use.

Current Evince can handle some forms, and suggests using Xournal
annotations to add text boxes for ones that don't work.  Current
LibreOffice can create and edit forms.

PDFStudioViewer2018 claims to support filling forms.

You can download a sample form from Adobe Sample Forms
The sample form can't be edited in Evince 3.34.2.  In PDFStdioViewer
I get a side bar that lists various types of for fields, but when I select
one, e.g., signatures, I get "no signatures".


Lacking that, what software might work for this purpose?  Is there a
parsimonious utility for this or do I have to go to some giant office
suite or publishing package?  Googling around makes it ook like
LibreOffice is the only good solution.

It appears that it's now taken for granted by many institutions that
of course everybody has Windoes software to do this.  Grumble.

I have to have Windows because I work with software from ESA and
NASA that have Windows GUI's.  Most of the users get a linux
command-line in some cloud server. 

--
George N. White III


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Re: Editable PDFs: what Linux software?

George N. White III
In reply to this post by Dave Flogeras


On Sat, 27 Jun 2020 at 09:06, Dave Flogeras <[hidden email]> wrote:

On Sat, Jun 27, 2020 at 2:03 AM Mike Spencer <[hidden email]> wrote:

Windoes users can fetch forms (such as gov't tax forms) in PDF format,
edit them to the extent of filling in the requested data and save or
email them.

 
I just went down this rabbit hole in Feb with a form I needed to fill out to contract with DFO.  I couldn't open on my usual goto PDF software (KDE's okular, which is quite full featured otherwise).  I _believe_ I also tried libreoffice to no avail.  This form had some sort of "security/protected" feature set, so that you can't even open it read-only to print unless using the official Adobe software.  Yours may or may not be set up like this.

I waited until I had access to a win machine, and even then got railroaded.  IIRC, after you've edited the document, Adobe software wants to automatically take over and handle emailing it (like it wouldn't just save it).  Since this wasn't my machine, I wasn't about to set up my email on it.  Also, with their history of security vulnerabilities I didn't feel comfortable trusting my SIN and other personal financial info to a black box.

In the end, I just used the windows machine to print it, and filled it in by hand.  I'm sure it angered the people on the other end, but they accepted it.

I retired from DFO.   All employees are supposed to get a "corporate standard" windows system, so there isn't much incentive to find some open standard way to deal with forms.   At least with Gov't of Canada your data probably didn't get scanned at processed offshore, but large multinational corporations not so.
 

Isn't technology great?  I'd also be interested to hear if any other opensource package can work around this "feature".
D
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Re: Editable PDFs: what Linux software?

herb Theriault-2
In reply to this post by Mike Spencer
It's a problem for sure. There is an Adobe Android app that I use on my little Nexus 7 tablet called Adobe Fill & Sign, for when this kind of thing pops up. 




On Sat, Jun 27, 2020 at 02:03, Mike Spencer <[hidden email]> wrote:
Windoes users can fetch forms (such as gov't tax forms) in PDF format, edit them to the extent of filling in the requested data and save or email them. xpdf(1) can't do that. Is there well know software for Linux that supports doing that with PDF files intended to handled in that way? "apropos pdf" doesn't help. Lacking that, what software might work for this purpose? Is there a parsimonious utility for this or do I have to go to some giant office suite or publishing package? Googling around makes it ook like LibreOffice is the only good solution. It appears that it's now taken for granted by many institutions that of course everybody has Windoes software to do this. Grumble.
--
Michael Spencer Nova Scotia, Canada .~. /V\ [hidden email] /( )\ http://home.tallships.ca/mspencer/ ^^-^^ _______________________________________________ nSLUG mailing list [hidden email] http://nslug.ns.ca/mailman/listinfo/nslug

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Re: Editable PDFs: what Linux software?

George N. White III
On Sat, 27 Jun 2020 at 09:36, Herb <[hidden email]> wrote:
It's a problem for sure. There is an Adobe Android app that I use on my little Nexus 7 tablet called Adobe Fill & Sign, for when this kind of thing pops up. 


This says "snap a picture of the form", so it appears to be one of the many
apps that allow you to overlay content on a form.   These may be fine if the
form is just used to archive your signature (instructions say to print, fill in,
sign, and scan), but I don't see how it can work for forms that use scripts to
validate input, etc. and are used to automatically populate a database.

The PD Studio site has some discussion of the various types of forms and
use of Javascript:


PDF Studio offers the following support for interactive forms:
  • Supported: Acroforms  (this format is supported by most PDF vendors)
  • Supported: Acroforms with static XFA (this format is supported by a lot of PDF vendors)
  • Unsupported: Dynamic XFA forms (this format is supported by a very limited number of vendors and this format is being discontinued and has been removed from the PDF 2.0 specifications).

On Sat, Jun 27, 2020 at 02:03, Mike Spencer <[hidden email]> wrote:
Windoes users can fetch forms (such as gov't tax forms) in PDF format, edit them to the extent of filling in the requested data and save or email them. xpdf(1) can't do that. Is there well know software for Linux that supports doing that with PDF files intended to handled in that way? "apropos pdf" doesn't help. Lacking that, what software might work for this purpose? Is there a parsimonious utility for this or do I have to go to some giant office suite or publishing package? Googling around makes it ook like LibreOffice is the only good solution. It appears that it's now taken for granted by many institutions that of course everybody has Windoes software to do this. Grumble.
--
Michael Spencer Nova Scotia, Canada .~. /V\ [hidden email] /( )\ http://home.tallships.ca/mspencer/ ^^-^^

--
George N. White III


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Re: Editable PDFs: what Linux software?

Vlado Keselj-2

I sometimes use "okular" and it can be used to fill out fillable PDFs:
https://okular.kde.org/

However, I more often prefer just to ignore "fillable" PDF, but make it
plain PDF and put signature, type etc. over it using LaTeX.

For example, this is one LaTeX file:

------ Start: form-filled-and-signed.tex ---------------

\documentclass{article}
\usepackage{pdfpages}
\usepackage{graphicx}
\usepackage{tikz}
\pagestyle{empty}

\newcommand{\form}{empty-pdf-form.pdf}
\newcommand{\signdate}{12 Jun 2020}

% Some helpful commands:
\newcommand{\locate}[3]{\node[shift={(#1,#2)},anchor=south west] at
  (current page.north west) {#3};}
\newcommand{\locatemid}[3]{\node[shift={(#1,#2)},anchor=south] at
  (current page.north west) {#3};}

\begin{document}
%Use this to include whole form to see how many pages there are etc:
%\includepdf[pages=-]{\form}

\begin{tikzpicture}[remember picture,overlay]
\node at (current page.center) {\includegraphics[page=1]{\form}};
%\input{grid-input.tex} % just some helpful Grid
\locate{6.7cm}{-26.5cm}{\normalsize\tt\vphantom{j} MY NAME}
% signature.png is an image of my signature
\locate{9.2cm}{-26.5cm}{\includegraphics[width=2.5cm]{signature.png}}
\locate{13.7cm}{-26.5cm}{\normalsize\tt\vphantom{j}\signdate}
\end{tikzpicture}

% To include other pages:
%\includepdf[pages=2-]{\form}

\end{document}

-------- End: form-filled-and-signed.tex ---------------

If you run command:

 $ pdflatex form-filled-and-signed

you get nice pdf with signature, filled out name, signdate etc.


Regards,
Vlado

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