Static vs. Dynamic Forms
There are two distinct styles of PDF forms to choose from. Forms created with Adobe Acrobat are static forms, often referred to as flat forms or “AcroForms.” When a form implementation requires the ability to expand tables, adjust field sizes to accommodate additional text and even add pages, Adobe provides a dynamic format known as XFA.
Appligent’s services department is proficient in both technologies, and more importantly, can help you decide which is right for you. For more information about the pros and cons of each, keep reading or contact us today to learn more.
Acroforms are static, fillable and retain all of the elements of traditional PDF. They can be created and edited by a number of products including Adobe Acrobat, Adobe FormsCentral and a variety of third-party applications. These forms can be manipulated using all of the editing capabilities in Adobe Acrobat and will function as a normal PDF file in batch or server processes intended for PDF. Appligent server products work with this original form technology and you’ll find that it is more widely supported and understood.
If your implementation calls for dynamic forms, Adobe provides an option in LiveCycle or XFA forms. These forms must be created and edited using Adobe’s LiveCycle Designer. This format is useful for implementations requiring a form to expand to accommodate more data, but they are based on the XML Forms Architecture and some of the features of standard PDF are lost. XFA forms cannot be edited using the standard tools in Adobe Acrobat, pages cannot be extracted and they cannot be manipulated by most third-party plug-ins and applications including Appligent products. Adobe included LiveCycle Designer with earlier versions of Acrobat, but with the release of Acrobat XI, this software must be purchased separately.
How to Choose
The primary advantages of Dynamic/XFA forms are the ability to have your form expand to accommodate user input and to manage both form design and content with XML. While providing these advantages, this format no longer allows for some features standard to PDF.
If any of the following items are critical to your form implementation, standard AcroForms provide them all:
- Accessibility/508 Compliance
- Backwards Compatibility
- Multiple support/development options
If you still have questions, check out this article on choosing between traditional PDF and Designer/XFA forms or consult with an Appligent Services specialist to get an authoritative perspective and recommendation on this important decision.