Emailing PDF Forms with Adobe LiveCycle Designer

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Having encountered problems producing fillable forms using Adobe LiveCycle Designer and needing to find a solution to send them back as PDF documents this article offers the solutions that worked for me.

Our client supplied an application form as a MS Word document that was to be downloaded and filled out by an applicant, saved and sent back for processing. The document may be sent back electronically or printed and sent back by traditional mail or facsimile.

A PDF is the preferred choice for distributing documents via the web however until recently was limited in the ability to send information electronically. Using Adobe LiveCycle Designer included in the Adobe Creative Suite it is possible to create a fillable form that allows the applicant to fill out the form and submit it electronically either directly to a database, see Stefan Cameron’s blog post for more information, or by e-mail. The form can be printed as normal if opened in older versions of Adobe Acrobat Reader and saved as a completed/part completed form in more recent versions.

By default the submit email button in LiveCycle Designer sends an XML attachment of the form data via the users default e-mail client or gives instructions on how to save the form and attach it to a web based mail service like Gmail, Hotmail or Yahoo Mail. XML is a great way of storing electronic data but not immediately that user friendly when received by e-mail. Our client wanted a PDF to be returned to the processing department with the filled out data much the same way as it would be received if filled out by hand and faxed.

Not having any luck finding the settings in the application itself I turned to the web and found out it seemed that it was possible to set the file type to be attached in LiveCycle Designer. The instructions to change the type of attachment suggest that a custom button should be made to replace the default mail button using the following steps:

  1. Create a regular button.

  2. In the Object palette, set the Control Type to Submit.

  3. Go to the Submit tab. In the Submit to URL box, type the submit email address preceded by mailto:.

  4. Select PDF as the Submit As type.

When I tried to follow these steps a got stuck at step 2 when I found my version does not have a Control Type of Submit, this seems to have been replaced by HTTP Submit Button. Assuming they did the same when I arrived at step 4 there is no option to set the submit type.

In LiveCycle Designer 8.01x there is no option to change the Submit As type. The default Email Submit Button is hard coded to submit XML data however LiveCycle Designer allows us to edit the XML data so the solution I found is as follows:

  1. First, in LiveCycle Designer create your Email Submit Button.

  2. Click on it to select it & look at your XML Source tab (View, XML Source).

  3. Find the line in your XML that looks similar to the following: <submit format=“xml” target=“ Sudject Line” textEncoding=“UTF-8”/>

  4. Change the “xml” to “pdf”

  5. Save the form.

This change causes the Acrobat to attach the form and data as a PDF to a mail in the users default mail client.

To allow the form to be filled in with Adobe Reader and saved the help files suggest the form need to be distributed by LiveCycle Designer. During testing Acrobat Reader crashed, not distributing the form but setting usage rights in Acrobat Professional solved this problem.

  1. Open the form in Acrobat Professional.

  2. Click on Advanced, Enable usage rights…

  3. Save the file.

What you end up with is a PDF form you can distribute, users can fill in save for their records, print and instantly e-mail back in the same format.

This article was posted on 23 January 2009 in Misc, Tutorials


What you have had to say about all this...

Thank you SOOO much for this helpful information! I was so frustrated getting coding back as my results.

- Cindy

VERY USEFUL!!! Thanks!  The switcheroo to “pdf” worked perfectly!

- Nicole Walker

This was a huge help, thanks :)

- Tim Wilson

I can’t thank you enough… Thanks for sharing.

- Michele

Man ur the BEST thanks a ton for this… I still don't understand why they hard-coded it… idiots!! but U the man!!!

- Ali Hassan Munawar

Excellent .. Thanks for the information .. None of the websites provide this information.

- Vishnu Kamisetty

Question: Is there a mandatory email client that must be used for this feature? I believe some people using Outlook 2003 are not able to submit the form via email attachment?

- Chuck

Very helpful, thanks!

- Ali

Thank you SO much for posting this.

- theComplex

Thank you for the great quality of your blog, every time i come here, i’m amazed.

- Black Hattitude

I tried the above steps.  But, I am unable to provide Usage Rights.  In Acro-Prof 8, I clicked on File->Properties-Security, the default settings are “not allowed” for ‘changing the document, Document assembly, Creation of Template pages’.  I am unable to change the security settings.  Also, in the “Advanced” tab, I don't have any options to change the usage rights.  Any thoughts on this?

- Graman

That's the end of this article. I hope you found it useful. If you're enjoyed this article why don't you have a look around the archives, where you can find some more tutorials, tips and general ramblings.