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Dynamic Text Box size

Not applicable
I would like to have a multi-line text box that starts as one line, then grows if the user adds multiple lines of text.

Currently I have the "allow multiple lines" field property checked, and the expand to fit height property checked. However, when I enter text in the preview I get a vertical scroll slider on the right as multiple lines are entered rather than an explanding text box. This verticle scroll slider certainly wouldn't be effective in a printed document.

33 Replies
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Expand to fit works only when focus leaves the field (i.e. if you tab out of the field). During run-time, the scroll-bar will appear in the area you have designed at design-time. Once you leave the field, the field is dynamically resized. If you wish the rest of the document to reflow, you must define the text field within a subform which is in turn a child of a flow content subform.
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I am very new to Adobe Designer. In fact, this is my first project. I have tried and tried, but I cannot make a text box expand and flow the document. I have messed with everything, including downloading the sample from this site. I just cannot figure out what I am missing. Can someone walk me through the process of creating a expanding text box from a blank, new page? All I need is the steps taken to create a single expanding text box, and hopefully I will see what I am missing.
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Here are the steps:

1) Open a new form and drop a text field on your form.

2) On the object inspector, click on the "field" tab.

3) Check the "Allow multiple lines" box and set your desired property values.

4) On the "layout" inspector, select "expand to fit" in the dimension that you want (i.e: width and/or height)

5) From the hierrachy, right click on your textfield and select "wrap in subform".

6) Select your new subform that just created. On the "Object" inspector, select "subform" tab.

7) Choose "flow content" for type. Select "top to bottom" for flow direction.

8 ) On the "layout" inspector, select "auto-fit" for both height and width.

9) Now, you can test your form by click on "PDF preview" tab.

Basically, above are the steps that you need. The idea is ,like David in previous post said, put your form field in the "flow content" subform.
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Thanks for the response. I followed your directions to the letter, and still have the same results as before. I can type multiple lines, and I get the scroll bar in the box, but when I click off the field (tab out or click on the document elsewhere) all that happens is I get a plus symbol at the bottom right corner of my box, but it is not resized.

This is driving me crazy. If it is possible, I can send off my simple single text box form for review. I just can't figure out what I am missing.
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Make sure you have this saved as a dynamic PDF. It will not work for a static document.
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MAN! David, you rock! That was is. I was attempting to preview from the unsaved document. Once I saved it as you worked fine. Thanks! I was getting ready to toss this computer through a thanks to everyone here...I can continue my project until the next problem!
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Tossing it through a window might hurt an innocent bystander. I prefer using a golf club or baseball bat (so long as they are from my old set!) 🙂
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Thanks for the tip, Sgreen!

While we are all looking at this, I am working on the second half of my document, which requires the form to expand as the fields do.

I have read above, "If you wish the rest of the document to reflow, you must define the text field within a subform which is in turn a child of a flow content subform."

I am trying to make sense of this...hopefully I will figure it out.
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Ok I finally got the text to wrap successfully and it grows if you add multiple lines of text. However, on the form I have a bunch of fields and if for example, i type in field one, it grows right over the fields below. So it grows but the next fields below do not move to allow for the extra words typed in.
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You need to make sure all other fields below the growing text field is wrapped by a "flow content" subform. This way, when the text field expands, it pushes other fields downward.

Hope this helps.
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Hi Jimmy,

Thanks for the tip. I can get that to work but when I make sure every field is wrapped by a "Flow content" subform, all the fields move up to the left top corner of the page. I am importing a word document, i don't know if this makes a difference. I wish I could send you an attachment so you could try it. Let me know if there is a way you would be able to look at doc and if i could send it to you and at what address.


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Jimmy or anybody that cares,

I am to the point of near tears now...I don't mind sharing my email address if you don't want to put it out on the forum I understand. My address is if you would rather just email me and not post it so I can send you my example. Basically, i think the problem may be that when i import from word, the orginial word document was not designed very well. So you have text and then text field next to each other. When I make sure the subform below the growing fields have flow content selected, for some reason it moves the text below the other fields and keeps moving them around. I have somebody else helping me and they are saying I need to start from scatch, i hate to do that because everything is set up, i just can't wrap and i have at least 40 word documents to convert to PDF.


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I had emailed you a working sample form that was designed in Designer 7. You can use it as a template for your other forms since they are similar in format and layout.

Let me know if you have any problems.
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Hey Diane,

You might actually want to nest some subforms. So wrap the fields that were getting moved in a subform but leave it positioned. Wrap the other section (which has the expanding field) and this section that you want to leave as it is positioned in a subform as well, only make this one flowed.

When the field expands it will then push the other subform down which contains positioned objects, likely giving you the effect you're looking for.

You might want to try a simplified version of this to get the idea of how it works then apply it to your own form.

Try the following steps:

1. Create a new form

2. Drop a field on the form

3. Set the field to have multiple lines and expand to fit height

4. Drop a subform on the form (leave this subform, likely named Subform1, as Positioned)

5. Add a text object and a text field into that subform you just added

6. Select the default subform (or page, if you look in the Hierarchy inspector it is likely called "(untitled Subform) (page 1)")

7. Set it to be flowed

8. Save the form as a Dynamic PDF

9. Preview

If you fill the field with several lines and exit it should push the text object and the field that were in the positioned subform down. If it helps, you can turn borders on for the Subform1 so you can see what is happening.

You should be able to apply this to your form in some fashion.

Let me know if that helps.
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Thanks Paul. Ok everything works perfectly now. It wraps, it pushes everything down. I was delighted, now true test. I want people who just have Reader 7.0 (not whole professional product) to be able to fill out form correctly. It wraps fine for me when I save as PDF and open it in reader but it is just because I have professional too? Can someone who only has Reader fill this thing out?
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Someone with Reader can fill it out (requires 7.0 or 7.0.1) however they will be limited to printing rather than saving the data.
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Thanks for responding. I am aware of that limitation. But they can't make it wrap. I don't want a plus sign instead i want to type for example, 1000 characters and when you tab off the field it shows all 1000 characters. I can do exactly that when i open reader but somebody without full package cannot. Does that make sense?
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Sorry everyone for taking up your time. When i adjusted the fields to only expand for height and not for both height and width, it worked! Thanks so much everyone!
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I hope someone can help...

I am trying to stop the Vertical Scroll Bar from showing up on a Field... I want the user to type up to the size of the box on Multiple Lines, but no more, since I want to be able to print everything entered...

I have tried doNotScroll = true;

but this does not seem to work...

Any Suggestions...


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1. Select the field in question.

2. View the Object inspector, Field page.

3. Check the "Limit Length" option.

4. Set the "Max Char" field to the maximum number of characters the field can contain.

You can figure that out mathematically or by simply testing the form with lines of "W"s (since they tend to be the widest characters).

I'm going to suggest an option to automatically calculate the maximum number of characters that can appear in the field or some other mechanism that is more user friendly.

I hope that helps!