PDF Form Features in Scribus

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Creating a PDF Form with Scribus – this is a new version of this chapter

Now we will show the various choices you have in your PDF Form. As was indicated in What is a PDF Form?, you begin by choosing a type of form element and click-dragging to create it on your document. You must use the toolbar PDF Form icon to create these – there is no keyboard shortcut, and there is nothing in the menu item Insert for this. If you do not see PDF Tools icons on your toolbar, activate them with Windows > PDF Tools.

Next, right click to bring up the context menu, then select Field Properties.



Field Properties – Appearance

At the top of the dialog is a "Type" drop down list, indicating that this frame was created as a Text Field, but by clicking on it, the list will allow switching to "Button", "Check Box", "Combo Box", or "List Box". At the top inside the X,Y,Z tab of the Properties Palette we are able to change the name of our form element, and just below that enter any tooltip you want to show as the mouse hovers over the frame. It's also worth mentioning here that even though the default label suggests this is a text frame, you cannot convert a text frame to a PDF Form element, although text frames can become PDF annotations or bookmarks.

In the "Appearance" tab, you will see that your choices of various features are limited. For fonts, you can only select regular, italic, bold, and bold italic styles of Courier, Helvetica, and Times, and in addition, Dingbats, and Symbols. You can edit the border of your frame, but you are limited in the exported PDF Form to color choices, Width values of "None", "Thin", "Normal", and "Wide". Line styles can only be "Solid", "Dashed", "Underline", "Beveled", and "Inset". Even though you may edit the shape of the border in Scribus, in the PDF Form it will always be rectangular.

In "Other", only the "Read Only" checkbox is implemented in Scribus at this time (for "Button", "Read Only" is inactive). Visibility choices are: "Visible", "Hidden", "No Print", and "No View".


For buttons, we can choose icons for various button operations – click "Normal", "Pressed", or "Roll Over" to load your icon.

You may find some experimentation is necessary to make these work properly. Also note that the various form elements do not function outside of Adobe Reader – thus you will not be able to test them until you have exported to PDF.

For "Text Field", we have the list of Options as shown below.

With "Check Box", the only options are the type of "Check" ("Check", "Cross", "Diamond", "Circle", "Star", or "Square") and whether the box is checked by default.

With "Combo Box" and "List Box", the only Option is whether the choice is editable.


In the Action tab all types allow a choice of None. JavaScript is the only additional choice for Text Field, Check Box, Combo Box, and List Box.
Event can be Mouse Up, Mouse Down, Mouse Enter, Mouse Exit, On Focus, or On Blur.

With Buttons there is not only JavaScript, but also Go To (as shown here). Note that you can go to a file (PDF), a particular page, and even a particular X,Y position on the page (as with all PDFs, 0,0 is the left lower corner of the page).
Other choices are Submit Form (to a specified URL), Reset Form, and Import Data (from a file).


The Format tab is only active for Text Field and Combo Box. Here we see the various choices for the available format, including Custom.



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