How to automatically fill forms from a database into a government created PDF.

I am trying to automate a form filling process. I would like to create a database and automatically populate government created forms, specifically the forms found at Some of these forms have a custom barcode at the bottom which change as you fill in each field. The point of this process is to be able to auto populate a number of forms with redundant information, such as name, address, date of birth, etc.

Ideally, I would like to know the easiest way to accomplish this, including, which database is best to populate the data, which I imagine could be as simple as using Access to even Excel.

If this requires programming, I would also like to know of what to look for in a programmer (expertise in javascript, etc). Any information would be very helpful.

Filex Sanchez

4 Answers

Voted Best Answer

Even with a plug-in one needs to know the field names involved and without being able to edit the form this could be difficult to determine. You also need to know the exact purpose of the filed.

Then there is also the problem that most government agencies do not design these forms for purposes of automation. This is even true of the IRS that has lead the way for electronic forms distribution and electronic filing of tax returns. For the distributed forms, the field name for taxpayer or taxpayer ID is not consistent and may not even be reused on any form.

It might be possible but the coding effort will be extensive. One would need to know the form and edition and how to match the fields on that form edition to a database and then how to match that form field to other forms.

You did note the column for other versions of the form that are still acceptable.

By George Kaiser   

Good questions for the government agency that "owns" the forms. While general suggestions may be forthcoming any specifics will perforce have to be addressed with that government agency.

Be well...

David Austin   

First you need to know if the forms are password protected from editing the content of the forms. This protection prevents editing of the content of the form and not the content of form fields.

Next you need to determine if extended reader rights have been applied to the forms as this will also affect your ability to edit or add coding to the forms.

Next you will need to determine which Acrobat or 3rd party program was used to create the form. Adobe offers two basic programs, Acrobat and LiveCycle, for creating and editing forms but they use different scripting languages.

Once all of the above is known, then one can start to formulate an approach.

But be very careful as the agency can easily change its approach to form creation and coding.

The IRS started with Acrobat forms but now uses a mix of products to create forms.

Some agencies even add their own coding and might not allow others to modify any coding within the form. But there should be approaches that include using other programing languages to create intermediate files that could be used to populate the forms from a database. But each revision of a form could change field names so you may have a large continuing program maintenance chore ahead.

George Kaiser   

Hi George,
I found this thread and your answer quite interesting.
Please let me put you a question from a JS scripter to a JS and Plugins one like I know you are.
So, let's leave JS behind here because I get your point: if a form was built in LiveCycle, for example, it is not possible to edit it in Acrobat with JS. However, my idea of Plugins is that they go a lower level than JS, don't they?
In the end, my question is this now: would it be possible to write an Acrobat Plugin and edit a form whatever technology was used to build it?
I understand that if form fields change their name from form to form it would take a modified Plugin each time.

Ricardo Falegnami   

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