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Importing data into dynamic form


Level 1

I have not yet had a chance to work with LiveCycle, and I have been given a project which I need to determine if LiveCycle would be the correct solution. The client originally wanted this to be a Microsoft Word form, but I doubt that I can meet the requirements using Word.

I need to design a form which a user can enter multiple line items either manually, or by importing existing data. The data itself would be about 40-50 distinct pieces of data, in a block of  several sections and multiple lines (i.e Name, Address block, Phone/fax/email, contact and comment section, etc) and would be a combination of text fields and checkboxes. There would be 2-3 of these blocks per page (with a static header/footer), plus a cover page with data fields for the organization using the form.

I know that I could create this type of dynamic form in LiveCycle to be entered manually, but I don’t know what options, if any, I would have in giving the user the ability to import existing data from an unknown source (could be a text file, a local or hosted database, excel, etc.).

My questions are about the feasibility of LiveCycle for this project:

Can data be imported from a data source the user chooses? Are there any limitations to what kinds of data sources can be used? Would I need to program a custom function to allow the user to match the proper fields for the import, or is there a built in function to handle this?

Would there be any platform/application limitations? Can the form be used with Reader on a desktop computer (Mac or PC), or on a tablet (and if so, is a specific app necessary instead of the default app)?

Are there any other foreseeable issues I may have to deal with?

2 Replies


Level 10

There are a couple of ways to import data into dynamic forms.

1. Data connection to a database

2. Manual import of data from xml files

3. Manual import of almost any file format with JavaScript (Reader 9.2or higher)

All these methods have benefits and disadvantages.

1. Needs to configure an ODBC-connection on every system it is used.

2. Requires Acrobat or a reader-enabled from to use in Reader. Data is automatically populated in the form fields. Only xml files for import allowed. Allows to use XSLT to format imported data.

3. Difficult scripting to update field values automatically. Works in Reader and Acrobat.

None of these methods will work on mobile devices as there is currently no support of XFA in Reader Mobile.


Level 1

Thanks for the info. A few followup questions if you don't mind:

This form will be sent to our client, and they will send it to their customers. Can the connection setup be scripted, or is it simple enough that a generic set of instruction can be given to the end user to allow them to setup the connection and map their fields to the form's content easily?

I doubt that the end user would have their data in a compatible XML format, so this option may not be necessary. Is Reader-enabling a form in LiveCycle comparable to the process in Acrobat? I have heard LiveCycle Enterprise is very expensive and required for certain functions, does this apply here? Does this require a specific server setup for these forms?

The data would not need to be updated automatically, just pull current data into the form. This would be a one-way operation, there would be no need to update the data source from values within the form. I would still need to give the user a way to map their fields to the form.

Are you aware of any tutorials or example files that would help give me a start? I had a brief look at the LiveCycle Designer ES2 Scripting Reference, but I"m not sure which objects to look into.

Good to know. The same is probably true if I were to create the form in Word/Office.