Import and export form data

Data entered in a form can be saved without saving form fields themselves, and repeatedly used to fill other forms. This can be useful for speeding up filling forms by automatically entering a data set that is common for a significant number of forms. The process includes exporting data of filled forms to be saved in special file types, and importing such files to fill empty forms. Valid file types are FDF, XFDF, XML and TXT – these can be handled by many PDF editors. They store not only the form data but also information on the number and types of controls within the form.

Export form data from a single opened, filled form

Import/Export Data icon
  1. Select Forms > Data > Import/Export Data > Export Data from Form.
  2. In the Export Form Data As dialog box, specify the name and file type.
  3. Click Save.

Your data is stored at the defined location and file type.

Import form data into a single form

Import/Export Data icon
  1. Open an unfilled form.
  2. Select Forms > Data > Import/Export Data > Import Data to Form.
  3. In the Select File Containing Form Data dialog box, set a file type (FDF, XFDF, XML,TXT) and browse to the file containing the data you want to import into the open form.
  4. Click Open.

So long as the chosen file contains form control descriptions and data that are suitable for the current form, the data will be inserted into the proper fields.

Export data from multiple forms

Import/Export Data icon

Data can be exported from multiple forms with the same data field sets to the file types XML and CSV (Comma Separated Values). These file types can be opened by Excel or similar spreadsheet programs; each form is represented by a row and each form field by a column. The field labels in the forms become the header row texts for the spreadsheet columns. All form field types can be handled, except signature fields. This export is available, even if no PDF file is loaded; any open files are not included.

Note For efficient export, all forms should have the same set of field names. Multi-page forms can be processed. One PDF file per form is recommended, but a single PDF containing a set of assembled forms is also acceptable, providing the form field sets are identical. If there are field differences between forms, all non-identical field names generate columns in the output table. All fields in the resulting table have a generic cell type that accepts any input – use your spreadsheet program to set other cell types (e.g. date, currency, numbers only).

To export data from multiple forms proceed with the following steps.

  1. Select Forms > Data > Import/Export Data > Export Data from Multiple Forms.
  2. Click Add and select the desired files from a folder.
  3. Optionally, click Add repeatedly to add files from other folders.
  4. Use Add and Remove until the file list is ready.
  5. Select Include most recent list of files to export from to have all the forms from the last exporting session added to the list.
  6. Click Export, then specify the output folder, file name and type (CSV or XML).
  7. In the Export Progress dialog box, click View File Now if you wish to see the result displayed in your spreadsheet application.
  8. In your spreadsheet application, rename column header texts as desired (for example, needed for check box or radio button fields).
  9. In your spreadsheet application, use Save As and select a suitable file type (such as Excel Worksheet). If you do not do this, the file remains in the CSV or XML format.

Unify field names before export

Note Best to settle with unified field names when creating/designing the original form file.
Note If field names are missing, unsuitable or not unified, you can solve this by editing them in the spreadsheet program after export.

  1. Open a PDF file that has active form fields.

  2. Form Controls icon
    Click the Form Controls tool in the Panel bar to display the Form Controls panel.
  3. Double-click a form control name in the panel, or select Properties in its context menu.
  4. Edit Field Name as preferred and click Close.
  5. Repeat as necessary with more field names and forms.

Troubleshooting with form data export and import

  • Determine whether the problem lies with a specific set of forms by processing a simpler set of sample forms.
  • If forms were delivered by e-mail, ensure the downloads were complete and made to a local drive. Avoid accessing files directly from an e-mail client or a temporary folder.
  • If saving to a network location fails, save to a local folder without security restrictions.
  • If saving to one file type fails (for example XML) try the other option (CSV).
  • Large forms – hundreds of pages or thousands of fields – may be problematic: split the files into sections.
  • Very long texts in a single field may be truncated on export. Excel typically has a cell limit of 256 characters.