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Flatten Livecycle forms


Level 1

It's been a few versions, so I thought I would raise this again and see if I can get an answer....

I have a LiveCycle form.  I use LiveCycle because I need the functionality that allows a field to expand over multiple pages if necessary.  If it weren't for that, I would be using AcroForms.

Once a person sends me their completed form (of however many pages it turned out to be), I need to flatten it so that it looks the same as when it is submitted, but without any fields (I REALLY don't want to/can't just make the fields read-only).

I have tried many things.  the latest it to try to use PDF2PS and Acroread to create a PS document, then running that PS document through the distiller.  The Distiller, though, doesn't recognize the output.

I have, at my disposal, all sorts of tools.  Coldfusion, Acrobat Pro, and iText.  I have Windows systems and Linux (I would prefer to do this in Linux).

Does anyone have a solution?

I thank you in advance.

8 Replies


Level 10


Can you explain:

Do you mean that you want to have a PDF version with just the users data and no captions and borders?

There are ways to do this, but I just want to understand first.



Level 1

I want to be careful how I answer this....

If I'm using AcroForms, I can save the file as "flattened." That gives me

a PDF with all of the user data, but no fields. All of the formatting is

still there (margins, etc.), but if one were to select Forms->Add or Edit

Fields, Acrobat says there aren't any fields.

THAT'S what I want...all data, no fields. If the Livecycle form expanded

a field across multiple pages, and moved the fields below it to

accommodate, I need that output to look right as well.

Does that answer your question?


Level 10


In that case I would use Acrobat to 'print to PDF', to create an non interactive copy. It will look exactly like the original fillable in-able form, but it will be flat.

Mac OS X 10.6 broke the ability to print from Acrobat to PDF, but you can certainly still do it in Acrobat for Windows. Not sure about Linux.

That seems the easiest approach to me.

There are samples on the forum for making fields readOnly (see Paul's LoclAllFields), however you don't want that approach.

The standard flatten approach in Acrobat/AcroForms will not work on XFA forms (afaik).

Just to note:

If you do use a solution that locks all fields (readOnly) you are still dealing with an XFA form and the Forms menu will still show "Edit form in LC Designer"

However if you print to PDF, then the resulting file will be a static/native PDF and the Forms menu will show the "there aren't any fields" message.



Level 1

I have to pull out my old work to be sure, but as I recall, I couldn't do

that programmatically without user interface. Is that correct?


Level 10


Yes, what I have outlined was based on opening the returning form and printing manually to PDF.

I am not sure of you can do it silently, you may run into security issues.

Maybe the Inter Application Communications protocol or FDF Toolkit can help you out. I haven't tried either approach.

Good luck,



Level 1

That's where a lot of frustration is coming up. Adobe implemented

LiveCycle forms, which I think are wonderful, but can't seem to give us

the ability to flatten the form (though I've seen a lot of people ask for

it). Their answer is to make them read only...well, that's a form.

At the same time, they tightened security on things like being able to

programmatically save documents. I suppose that's also important, but

they've closed the doors on being able to do many things.

In my particular case, if I could flatten the form, I'd be fine. If I

could silently print to PDF, I'd be fine. If they provided a means for

AcroForm fields to expand as needed, I'd be fine. Some of this has never

been allowed, and some of it they stopped allowing.

Anyway, that's just fluster. I'm not sure I've looked through all the FDF

toolkit yet.

Thanks for your feedback. If you think of anything else, please let me



Level 10

There is a Serverside component "PDF OutPut" service which will flatten the PDFs. But you can use it only if you have LC Server version installed in your environment.




Level 8

Hi All,

I am interested in this topic, as now it seems we are approaching the need to archive the submitted forms (send them to OpenText), and it does not make sense to archive them as XFA Forms for the following reasons:

1. They are very large in size. This is becuase they are dynamic, and by design, the size will increase with every submit, and also due to having multiple signatures where the entire copy of the PDF will be saved inside each signature.

2. The PDF Form Data can be exported, and PDF Form can be opened using Designer. This will give room for problems.


Suppose the requirement is to: a) Flatten the PDF Form, b) send the result PDF to OpenText. b) trigger this process from a button on the PDF or similar, c) automate where possible.

1. I think there is no way we can use Acrobat (print to PDF) to implement this archiving requirements, since there is no easy way to automate this process, right? Also, it does not seem that there is easy way to integrate this method with OpenText, right?

2. Say we decided to use Livecycle ES2 PDF output, what is needed to automate such requirements? What LC modules are needed other than LC Output? I think we need Process Management/Workbench for automation, right?

3. When the PDF Form is flattened, what will happen to the Digital Signature? How to ensure the PDF Form was signed correctly by intended author? How to ensure the integrity and security of the flattened document?

The above questions are very important, appreciate I get answers.