The forms auto-recognition feature in Acrobat X Pro is powerful and fast — it creates form fields based on elements in the PDF (such as lines, boxes, circles, etc.), and names them according to nearby text. While you often have to tweak the results — for example, creating fields it missed, renaming fields with paragraph-long names — it can be a timesaver. So why wouldn’t you always use it?
Recently, I worked on a large project with lots of numbered fields, and that experience sort of sharpened my thinking about auto vs. manual. Because I needed short, concise field names on pages with tons of neighboring text, I decided that renaming would take as long as creating from scratch, with less chance of error. On pages like the one shown above, I could’ve created all 40 fields almost instantaneously by letting Acrobat auto-recognize them, but I elected to create them by using the Place Multiple Fields feature.
That probably sounds like the long way around, but there was a method to my madness. I’ve created two videos to explain.
In the video for Part I, I show how I created the fields using the Place Multiple Fields feature.
In the video for Part II, I show how Acrobat’s auto-recognition feature would’ve handled it. Yes, it’s much faster, and no, I didn’t do it the “long way around” for billing purposes 😉
At the end of Part II, I explain how important the field naming conventions are, and why my method allows me to take advantage of that, whereas Acrobat’s approach messes that up.
Oh, and just so you know, creating this 40+-page interactive form is really fun — I love the mechanics of creating and refining forms (how twisted is that?)