[nSLUG] Editable PDFs: what Linux software?

George N. White III gnwiii at gmail.com
Sat Jun 27 09:24:29 ADT 2020

On Sat, 27 Jun 2020 at 02:03, Mike Spencer <mspencer at tallships.ca> wrote:

> Windoes users can fetch forms (such as gov't tax forms) in PDF format,
> edit them to the extent of filling in the requested data and save or
> email them.
> xpdf(1) can't do that.

Many of the intertrash suggestions don't use the Adobe forms support, but
just add text boxes.  These may print correctly, but Adobe forms are
to be processed by software that converts the entries to some database
record.  Some organizations will do the conversions manually (probably
using some offshore contractor that can't be trusted with your details).

Is there well know software for Linux that supports doing that with
> PDF files intended to handled in that way?  "apropos pdf" doesn't
> help.

There are many ways to create PDF forms, some use scripts that
are specific to Windows, but there is a "standard" that many
government forms use.

Current Evince <https://help.gnome.org/users/evince/stable/forms.html.en>can
handle some forms, and suggests using Xournal
annotations to add text boxes for ones that don't work.  Current
LibreOffice can create and edit forms.

PDFStudioViewer2018 claims to support filling forms.

You can download a sample form from Adobe Sample Forms
The sample form can't be edited in Evince 3.34.2.  In PDFStdioViewer
I get a side bar that lists various types of for fields, but when I select
one, e.g., signatures, I get "no signatures".

> Lacking that, what software might work for this purpose?  Is there a
> parsimonious utility for this or do I have to go to some giant office
> suite or publishing package?  Googling around makes it ook like
> LibreOffice is the only good solution.
> It appears that it's now taken for granted by many institutions that
> of course everybody has Windoes software to do this.  Grumble.

I have to have Windows because I work with software from ESA and
NASA that have Windows GUI's.  Most of the users get a linux
command-line in some cloud server.

George N. White III
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