UNB/ CS/ David Bremner/ tags/ forms

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So you have a pdf form, and you want to fill it in on linux. You hate acrobat reader. Ok, so all six of you read on.

First install pdftk. If you are using debian,

apt-get install pdftk

If you are not using debian, first install debian :-).

Now you need a pdf file with form data. We suppose for the sake of argument that your file is foo.pdf. Try

pdftk foo.pdf dump_data_fields

Yes, the order of arguments is goofy. You should get some output that looks like

FieldType: Text
FieldName: M3
FieldFlags: 4194304
FieldJustification: Left
FieldType: Text
FieldName: D3
FieldFlags: 4194304
FieldJustification: Left

M3 and D3 are your field names. Now get my script which can convert this output into something useful. At this point you may want to reconsider how much you hate acrobat. Or investigate okular. Assuming you are still here, run

pdftk foo.pdf dump_data_fields | perl fields2pl.pl > foo.pl

This will give you a template that you can fill in. If you have to fill out the same form many times (e.g. an expense form), save this template somewhere. Now to fill in your form, you need a FDF file. One way to make one is to edit the template I made you create above, and then convert it to FDF. First install the FDF converter.

apt-get install libpdf-fdf-simple-perl

Now use something like genfdf.pl to make an fdf file.

perl genfdf.pl foo.pl > foo.fdf

You are almost there. To actually fill in the form, you use the command

pdftk foo.pdf fill_form foo.fdf output filled.pdf

If you do this all many times, consider making a Makefile. Here is a fragment

.SUFFIXES: .pdf .fdf .csv .gnumeric .pl

    pdftk Expenses.pdf fill_form $< output $@ 

    genfdf.pl $< > $@

example.pdf: example.fdf
example.fdf: example.pl
Posted Sun 06 Jan 2008 04:09:00 PM Tags: /tags/forms