Feature request / Bug report

Precise placement of objects in Prepare Form and Edit Form

I would like to see a "transform" capability similar to InDesign, with a panel or set of boxes in which the actual pixel X & Y coordinates, as well as the dimensions of an object, can be precisely set. Currently, the resolution on this type of placement appears to be set at 2 points, and I would like to be able to fine-tune that to pixels or 10,000ths of an inch as I can in InDesign. That's the basic idea, but read on for rationale.
I work mainly in InDesign to create pdf forms that I then take into Acrobat Pro to make "fillable" (Prepare Form). Often, after I have submitted a form for approval of my superiors, they come up with edits they would like to see. Many times, these edits are additions that need to be inserted precisely into the form to prevent having to recreate the form and then go through the process of making the form fillable again. Frequently, I create a text box or button, only to find I cannot move it to precisely the location required to avoid overlapping text or an object already extant in the form, i.e., the form already is "crowded," but the ability to precisely locate the new object would be acceptable in the eyes of my employer—crowded or not.
This also comes up when I need to align a newly created line that spans the page as an "underline" for two or more text boxes. In this instance, I need the line to extend beyond the text boxes as a place to indicate a fillable text field, so the underline function of the font will not suffice. The text boxes and the line, itself, will only get too close to, or else too far apart from, each other.
There are other instances where this would be a wonderful feature to have, but basically, I'm spoiled to the fine-tuning that InDesign allows, and would appreciate that one feature be incorporated into Acrobat Pro.
Thanks for reading, and if you're a precision designer like me, please vote for this feature!
Ken

59 votes
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    Ken Jeffries shared this idea  ·   ·  Flag idea as inappropriate…  ·  Admin →

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      • Anonymous commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

        Why limit to form objects? I'm trying to precisely place an arrow with the same frustration.

      • Ken Jeffries commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

        Jeff,
        Thanks for trying. While I can see how what you suggest might work for elements already extant in the document, it does NOT allow for selection of added elements, such as radio buttons and text boxes, and those are what I need to be able to precisely place—at least it didn't work for me. Maybe I'm doing something wrong, but no matter what I tried, the elements that I added to the document could not be selected in the Edit mode (which is where you can select "edit with Illustrator"), and in the Prepare Form mode, editing with Illustrator is not an option.
        Back to square one.
        Adobe, please post an update on this query soon.
        Thanks to all!

      • Steele Jordan commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

        Mr. Rosen,
        Thank you for this, but I do not consider it a "solution." It is simply a workaround for a program (application) deficiency that could—and should—easily be fixed.
        I have come to the conclusion—accurate or not—that Acrobat was developed on a PC for PC users who are used to mediocrity and which was then (poorly) ported to the Mac environ; unlike InDesign, which was obviously developed on a Mac for Mac users, who although admittedly can be somewhat disdainful of PCs and therefore may appear "snobbish," are used to excellence in their machines and their programs.
        Again, this is not a solution. It is a workaround, and it assumes that all Acrobat users have a license for Illustrator, as well—which should not be a REQUIREMENT for Acrobat to do what it should.
        While I realize my comments may seem abrasive to some, the truth is NOT subjective—it is simply the truth.
        I genuinely hope Adobe will move forward on this SOON. It's been over a year since first posting, and almost that since Adobe started "looking" at it. The votes are piling up. The people have spoken.
        IF this is in the works, Adobe, please let us know. Otherwise, understand that Quark was once the go-to for page layout.

      • Jeff ROsen commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

        I figured out a solution (thank the lord). Select the objects you want to adjust and click "edit using" in the format options on the right pane. Select illustrator and you will be able to use snap editing to align baseline, shift by pixel, etc. Once you are done, CMD + S in illustrator and close it. Your changes will be made to your PDF with zero side effects (as far as i am aware of)

        THANK THE LORD!!!

      • Anonymous commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

        I've posted a similar request. The lack of ability to perfectly align new text and text boxes at the same time is very frustrating and IMO unacceptable. I'm at the point where we are planning to look at other software to meet our needs. The time spent trying to make things look right by eyeballing it is incredibly excessive.

      • Ken Jeffries commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

        Hello, Adobe!

        Any movement on this yet? It's been almost a year, now, and 6 months since Mr. Rosenthol's last post. In the meantime, we now have 37 votes—and counting!

        Can I provide any more help or explanation?

        Thanks!

        Ken

      • Anonymous commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

        As a longtime plain TeX user I feel like I'm vacationing in Jurassic Park when I open up Acrobat.

      • Ken Jeffries commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

        Thanks for sharing a rather scarring event, Rae, that brings into vivid focus some of the reasoning behind this request. That took guts.
        Thanks, also, for voting for this. As you can see, we've had a few more come onboard since your 11 January post. I've tried to get the word out in other threads using this link:
        http://tinyurl.com/PrecisePlacementOfObjects
        If anyone who visits this page can get that link out, it will be greatly appreciated.

      • Rae Benedetto commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

        I have voted for this feature. Thousands of an inch matter. This issue reminds me of 20 years ago when it was discovered 2 horizontal lines on master pages I had created were misaligned by perhaps 1/2 point? 1/2 point is .0069 inch. I questioned this level of precision. I survived and learned, but not without consequences in a team environment were every mistake (prepress or personal, I fear) was profoundly made public. I'm no longer in prepress but that level of attention to detail persists in my work. Thousands of an inch matter and the scope should include all objects, form fields, graphics, and text.

      • Kevin Walker commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

        Hello! I voted for this as well. In fact, I would like to broaden the scope and be able to move not just forms, but also static text and images to precise 4-decimal locations in documents. I am frequently repositioning items with the "Edit" (text and images) tool and "Edit Object" tool, in addition to forms. The methods currently available for repositioning are slow and lack precision. Can the fine-tuning that InDesign allows be brought to Acrobat for forms and more?

      • Ken Jeffries commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

        One final thought for you, Rae: it would appear you didn't vote for this feature request. Could I ask you to do that if you feel this is a feature Acrobat users need? The more votes, the more likely Adobe is to spend the time and money necessary on this.

        Something I think a lot of users don't realize is that Acrobat is a *huge, complex* program, and making ANY change is a *mammoth* undertaking. It's not like you can just change a few lines of code and say "Voila!"

        We, as users, must really make the case, through our votes and our comments here—at this feature request page, in addition to all the other forum threads—for the need for these features, or they will NOT be implemented. After they ARE implemented, we all need to come back to this page and say a big THANK YOU to the developers who make it happen.

        So please, cast your vote, and direct all interested parties to this page via this link:
        http://tinyurl.com/PrecisePlacementOfObjects, both now and after the features are available.
        Thanks to all!
        Ken

      • Ken Jeffries commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

        Hi, Rae,
        Thank you very much for your post. Yes, I have used that script, but it is extremely "clunky" and very limited in its application. You can only move text fields, and you can only move one at a time, among other things.

        In fact, that post you found brought you here, or would have if you had clicked on my link that is embedded there. Here is a link to my original forum post which generated quite a bit of feedback from other users: Re: When using the keyboard to move an object in Acrobat Pro DC, is there a way to change the increment used or specify a location using X-Y coordinates? It includes another solution that I would like to see, but I don’t want to appear “greedy”: In InDesign, you can hold Shift-Command (on a Mac) to move by one-tenth of a single up-arrow increment.

        There are actually at least FOUR threads now on this subject, and we have 13 votes here, so this IS very important to a lot of Acrobat professionals. I believe Adobe is aware of the intense interest in this, and that is why they are considering the time and expense involved in implementing these features.

        Thanks again, Rae, and please direct to this feature request any other users you know so they can comment and add their vote. Here’s a link you can copy and paste: http://tinyurl.com/PrecisePlacementOfObjects.

      • Rae Benedetto commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

        Hello, I was searching for a way to adjust the "nudge" of objects in Acrobat DC this morning. and I found another forum and a free script that may or may not solve your problem. I have not tried this script, and it is not said to work on objects other than form fields. Here is a link to that other discussion https://forums.adobe.com/thread/2362852 and link to script provided there. http://try67.blogspot.com/2011/08/acrobat-move-field-precisely.html
        If *nothing else* this should indicate to Adobe engineers that this is an issue that has been raised before and something users need.

      • Ken Jeffries commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

        Hi, Leonard, it's me again. I don't believe I fully answered this part of your question:
        >>As to the ability to do other reference points, that's an interesting idea - but I don't really understand why that is actually useful in form design. Can you explain?<<

        I'll try to be brief, since I was so long-winded earlier. As just one example [brief, remember?], let's say you have an existing form created in InDesign with a table in the middle of the page that has been exported to pdf and opened in Acrobat for editing [we’re going back to the name-line example].

        That table is not an active element when you add a new name box to the top of the form, so you cannot use the Align tools to line up the right edge of the table with the right edge of the new name box. However, if I could select the top, middle or bottom right-hand reference point on that name box, I could drag out a vertical guide, get the x-axis measurement, and then set the right edge of the name box to the same setting. If I drag out a horizontal guide and select the appropriate reference point, I can also set the y-axis measurement to line up with a new signature line that was created as a graphic line element. Again, this could require a four-decimal-point precision to be close enough that the naked eye would not pick up on any infinitesimal misalignments; and again, mouse movement and Position tab settings have not proven precise enough to accomplish this.

        Picky? Yes, but that's how I make my living. Being free-lance, if I'm not picky I'm out of work.

        Okay, that’s one example. If you need more, please reply here.
        I’ll shut up now, but thanks again.

      • Ken Jeffries commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

        >>Ken Jeffries commented · November 09, 2017 12:45
        Thanks for looking at this. No, sir or ma'am, the Properties box does NOT do this. The precision there (at present) is only two decimal places, and I need it to allow for four decimal places; i.e., 10,000ths of an inch as opposed to the current 100ths of an inch.<<

        Thanks again for looking at this. 10,000ths of an inch equates to four decimal places, which is the precision available in InDesign. The reference point ability is also available in InDesign, and I actually use both every time I work in ID (i.e., every day).

        As far as why these features are needed, I believe a couple of reasons are explained in my original request above and comments below (please see), but it boils down to being able to create a complex, fillable form or to edit a form that has already been created, without having to go through the process of recreating it from scratch and then making it fillable, again. The forms I create range from two to ten pages (usually), have MULTIPLE check-boxes and radio buttons, incorporate javascripts, and must be signable; so, being able to edit them (at my bosses' request) after they have already been made fillable would save, literally, HOURS of time. As I mentioned above, if I need to create any new element, the requested precision would enable me to place that item exactly where it needs to be in order to prevent having to recreate the form. Yes, that sometimes results in a "crowded" form, but 95% of the time, my bosses will accept that.

        Re: the Position tab—try this: create any series of identical objects, say at least ten, and position them either vertically or horizontally in a row. You can easily do this with the "Create Multiple Copies" command after right-clicking an existing element. Now, with your mouse, nudge about half or more of these objects *just a little* off of the center line, but not so much as a cursor nudge. Select them all, then look at their position in the Properties tab. If you have them spaced closely enough, they will all show the same vertical or horizontal position, even though you know they are not because you just moved them. When you type a value into that particular position field, the elements WILL NOT MOVE because Acrobat already sees them as being at the same position. Yes, in this instance, you can use the Align command, but that is not the case with, say, the name-line example mentioned in the original post. That name-line example is just one instance in which these features are needed.

        I'm not sure what else to say. I don't want to repeat here what I've already posted elsewhere on this page. I just know that I get frustrated every time I have to create and try to position new elements in—or otherwise edit—a form that already is fillable. There are common elements in each group of forms (these are being created for a school setting—with the same basic forms created for different chapters/units), so it would be wonderful to know that I can specify a particular set of check-boxes to have the top-left corner || of the top element in the group || to be positioned at x-coordinate .5625 and y-coordinate 1.575, as it was when created in InDesign.

        There are so many other applications, but I would have to keep track over a period of time and then paste the list in here to comprehensively show you all of them, so I can only hope I have been cogent enough in my explanations to convince you that these are two worthwhile features that should be added to the user interface in Acrobat Pro.

        Again, I thank you VERY much for your time and consideration of these matters.

        Sincerely,
        Ken Jeffries

      • Leonard Rosenthol commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

        Can you explain why you need 10000th of an inch? On any normal sized page, that small value will get rounded up anyway to no more than 3-4 decimal places.

        As to the ability to do other reference points, that's an interesting idea - but I don't really understand why that is actually useful in form design. Can you explain?

      • Leonard Rosenthol commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

        I don't know what version of Acrobat you are using but this feature has been part of Acrobat since version 11. Look at the Position tab in the Field Properties dialog.

      • Ken Jeffries commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

        Thanks for looking at this. No, sir or ma'am, the Properties box does NOT do this. The precision there (at present) is only two decimal places, and I need it to allow for four decimal places; i.e., 10,000ths of an inch as opposed to the current 100ths of an inch.

        Also, that entire Position tab of the Properties dialog is very counter-intuitive when it comes to the actual placement of an item. I am hoping that we could have a control-bar item similar to the one in InDesign that would allow precise placement using any reference point of the selected object. I would attach a screenshot if I could, but the idea is to be able to select any corner, mid-point, or the center-point of the object and position that point using x-y ruler coordinates, and also to change the width and height from that same reference point. If you don't understand what I mean, please open InDesign and see how it handles this.

        If not possible to place in the control-bar area, the Position tab could be modified to include the reference-point-selection widget, and the X - Y coordinate and W x H specification boxes changed to follow the InDesign model. This would greatly increase the usability of the Edit and Prepare Form functions in Acrobat, and greatly decrease my own frustration level with it.

        Thanks again for looking into this, and I will be excited to see this feature added to Acrobat!

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