How to Add JavaScript Functionality to PDF Forms without Coding

JavaScript gives you a pretty easy and very powerful way to customize PDF files. You can use JavaScript in your PDF files to do everything from changing their output, to changing the way PDF files look, to automatically creating a new PDF file and modifying its contents.

JavaScript is especially useful for XML forms. It lets you automate the way forms are handled, allows your forms to make use of functions and data in your database, and enable new user-interface capabilities. You can get pretty fancy, even using the built-in JavaScript tools in a PDF Editor, to handle number strings, email a completed form, and insert the current date or hide certain text fields until a form is printed.

You can see some handy examples of what JavaScript can do in your PDFs here, along with the basic code that enables these functions.

Foxit PhantomPDF provides three options for you to use JavaScript in your PDF files –Document JavaScript, Document Action and JavaScript Console. Here’s what each does:

  • Document JavaScript lets you create or access document level scripts in Foxit PhantomPDF.
  • Document Action lets you create document-level JavaScript actions that apply to the entire document.
  • The JavaScript Console gives you an interface for testing portions of JavaScript code and experimenting with object properties and methods.

You’ll find each of them detailed on page 203 of the Foxit PhantomPDF User Manual.

Use JavaScript without becoming a developer

So, all that said, JavaScript still requires a bit of developer savvy. And if you’re like many users, you don’t have the time to learn to code in JavaScript. So how can you make best use of JavaScript capabilities in your PDF forms without becoming a developer?

One way is simply to use Foxit Cloud Forms Publisher. Data collection functionality is part the service, and no JavaScript coding is required. Foxit Cloud is a great solution to centralize form management and distribution, as well as securely manage and send PDF documents.

This solution takes your existing interactive PDF form and makes it available online, which can be accessed through a web browser. Users can then view and complete the form by going to a hyperlink you provide them with. As the form owner, you can view all form response data in a single location, download a CSV file with all responses to your form, or download individually completed forms. Visit Foxit Cloud Forms Publisher to learn more.

Another way is to hire a JavaScript developer. There are plenty of good JavaScript developers out there with skills in customizing PDFs. You can check the typical freelance websites but your best resource may be to post a job ad in the Planet PDF Forum in the PDF Developer section, as you can’t get more specialized than this. (You may want to browse the JavaScript Forum there while you’re at it.)

Want to dabble in JavaScript yourself? This introductory guide to JavaScript gives a good overview of the basics, although it’s not PDF specific.

There are many ways JavaScript can enhance your PDF form functionality, as you’ve seen—even if you don’t have the word “developer” in your job description.

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