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!
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 · 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).
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.
Leonard Rosenthol commented
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
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.
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!