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  1. #1
    SitePoint Guru dwzemens's Avatar
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    PDF Forms - Online completion and submission

    I am looking for suggestions of how I can implement the ability for the site visitor to complete a PDF form online, and then submit the form directly to a specified email address?

    Any suggestions would be appreciated. Thanks in advance.
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  2. #2
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    Hi dwzemens,

    I've written a hosted application called Doculicious that offers a solution for this. It lets you create the PDF file using an online WYSIWYG editor (so if you have the form already it may not be exactly what you require), but once that is done you can embed it onto a website for people to fill out and then use the API to get the entry data or completed PDF and email it or do whatever you need to.

    Your question matched exactly what my application hopes to help with, so I hope you don't mind me posting it here. Feel free to PM me if you need more info.

    Cheers,
    Chris.
    www.doculicious.com
    Create PDF files that have embeddable web forms.
    Users fill in form, get complete PDF. You track and process data.

  3. #3
    SitePoint Guru dwzemens's Avatar
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    Thanks for the suggestion. Does your service have the ability to directly email the form to a specified address or must the user download the PDF to their local computer and initiate an email themselves?
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  4. #4
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    Yes, you can setup a specific email address that the completed PDF form will be sent to, but that feature is only available using a paid account.

    The free account can be setup to send an email, but without the PDF attachment - just a notification that your form has been filled out and submitted.

    Cheers,
    Chris
    www.doculicious.com
    Create PDF files that have embeddable web forms.
    Users fill in form, get complete PDF. You track and process data.

  5. #5
    Serial Entrepreneur
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    What I normally do is have the client fill out a web form then use the open source iText to stamp the values into the PDF form fields, and then you can easily e-mail the resulting file.

    But if a service gets you to the end of the project faster, by all means, use a service.
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  6. #6
    SitePoint Guru dwzemens's Avatar
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    Sounds interesting, thanks. How much is the paid account service?
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  7. #7
    SitePoint Guru dwzemens's Avatar
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    @amf45: this sounds like an interesting approach as well. So you use a standard <form> tags, feed the info to a PDF with iText (can you refer me somewhere for more info on iText?) and then the PDF can be automatically emailed via PHP mail() or something similar?
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  8. #8
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    Doculicious has paid accounts starting at $10/month for 100 PDF's/month and going to $197/month for 13500/month.

    iText is written in Java, so cannot be used directly in PHP without something like a PHP/Java bridge. It is a very good library though, and can be used to create the PDF from scratch or stamp your data onto an already existing PDF.

    I actually use iText in Doculicious to generate the PDF files we create, but with my own custom functions to support things like HTML style borders (double, ridge, dashed, dotted etc) and a lot of work to get the Web Form front end matching the PDF output so that they both look very similar, including with things like PNG alpha opacity, font sizes, element positions etc.

    Cheers,
    Chris.
    www.doculicious.com
    Create PDF files that have embeddable web forms.
    Users fill in form, get complete PDF. You track and process data.

  9. #9
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    iText is Java, iTextSharp is available for .NET. PHP interface is not available. Just google iText for details on the project. But, yes, the approach you discuss in general (create a <form>, use the values to populate the PDF via iText, and then mail using whatever API is available) is exactly what I mean... and we actually have a business set up to create benefits statements based on that approach, so I know the approach works, provided you can work with Java or .NET.
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