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I'm looking to see if it's possible to create something a PDF document that can do two things for a client:

a) contain reflowable content, more specifically expanding/collapsing sections. Content starts as a one line heading but might need to expand to flow over multiple pages (I know this is possible on it's own with something like LiveCycle)

b) contain "text fields" (such a customer name and phone number) that can be easily updated by my client who will not have access to Adobe Acrobat Pro or Adobe LiveCycle (something like a PDF template that would generate the final PDF with requirement (a).

To further complicate things the "text fields" probably can't be form fields since is undesirable for the customer to be able to edit and save changes.

I know each of these things can be done individually but I can't think of a way to do them both together.

EDIT: requirement a) needs to be able to flow over multiple pages but still collapse to 1 page.

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I did create a whole forms collection which actually has both components. In fact, the forms are dynamic multilingual PDF forms.

Roughly, in such a case, all potentially moving/showing/hiding elements have to be form fields (mainly text fields, maybe with rich formatting activated, but it is also possible to use button fields with rich contents as icon). Then, there is logic which does the pagination.

Data entry can either be done into form fields, or using Dialogs or Responses.

Non-fillable fields are set to read-only, and that already reduces the noodling around by the end user.

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  • This sounds promising. A few questions: Is all of this done in Adobe Acrobat Pro? Can the expanding/collapsing content flow over multiple pages? If so are there any guides you can direct me to?
    – snoopen
    Commented May 25, 2015 at 0:08
  • Development in Acrobat Pro; use in Reader XI or newer. The content can flow over to following pages; you create the fields in sequence (or block by block), and you know the height of the block, and you can with that track where you are on the page; if the next block does not fit anymore, spawn a new base page and add your fields on the new page.
    – Max Wyss
    Commented May 25, 2015 at 13:58
  • Thanks Max! This sounds like the way to achieve my clients requirements. My concern is that it won't be accessible on mobile devices, had you tested the result on mobile/tablet devices?
    – snoopen
    Commented May 26, 2015 at 3:40
  • Your concern is insofar correct, as in order to do proper pagination, Templates are used, which are not supported by PDFExpert or qPDF (the leading PDF viewers on iOS and Android respectively. There may be some workaround, using documents with different number of pages, but I'd have to experiment a bit in this direction. Another option, of course, would be some kind of server-support.
    – Max Wyss
    Commented May 26, 2015 at 8:12

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