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Creating editable PDF Form templates for structured inspections

Learn how to create PDF forms to use in Field.

To create a Field Form template, you will need to use a PDF editing tool, for example, Adobe Acrobat, and a program such as MS Word (or MS Excel) to create the base form to begin with.

The process we recommend is:

  • create the form in MS Word
  • export or print your Word document as a PDF
  • use Adobe Acrobat Pro to create editable fields in the PDF
  • bring the form into Aconex Field

Note: Aconex offers a PDF form creation service. If you’d like us to convert your existing forms for use in Aconex Field, please speak to your Aconex representative.

Create a fillable form in MS Word

Use Word’s advanced form creation tools to create labeled fields throughout the document, resulting in a fillable form. This will result in less work in Acrobat.

When we say fillable, we mean that the document can be completed digitally. That means a checkbox, for example, can be clicked and a “x” appears in the box. Or a Yes/No question has a dropdown selector for you to choose the correct response.

Create a form in MS Word or Excel

You can create a non-fillable form in MS Word (or Excel) – using tables, and checkbox symbols. You’ll then use Acrobat to create the labeled fields.

When Acrobat converts your non-fillable form to a fillable PDF, it will usually assign fields that are text input only, rather than Yes/No checkboxes, for example. You will need to edit the fields in Acrobat to make sure they behave the way you want them to during inspections.

It is critical to make sure that your form fields are labeled correctly. When you create the form in Acrobat, some fields might be labeled as Undefined. These need to be edited and given a meaningful name. Meaningful labels are required so that the data collected in forms during inspections is available for reporting.

Preparing the fillable form in Acrobat

Once you’ve converted your Word document to PDF you can open it in Acrobat.

  • If you created a form without fillable fields, you’ll need to use Acrobat’s form-creation tools to construct a suitable PDF to bring into Aconex Field.
  • If you used MS Word to create a fillable form, you will need to check that Acrobat has recognized the components of your MS Word form correctly, and modify them if necessary.

Read the Adobe support article for a complete rundown on making your PDF form a fillable one.

Unsupported field types

Note that some of the field types that Acrobat allows you to create are not supported in Field Forms:

  • ListBox (If multi-select is checked)
  • Signature
  • Button
  • Image

Creating auto-filled fields in your Field Forms

You can set up your project Field Form templates so that they are pre-filled.

The fields below can be set to be pre-filled, using the labels that follow:

  • Project name – project_name
  • Project location – project_location
  • Organization name – project_organization
  • Name of inspector who started form – created_by
  • Organization name of inspector who started form – created_by_org
  • Name of last user to modify PDF form – last_updated_by
  • Organization name of last user to modify PDF form –last_updated_by_org

It is possible to use a scan of an existing paper form as the basis for your PDF form, but it can be time-consuming and a little tricky. If you’d like to try this method, read the Adobe how-to for preparing a scan to use as a fillable form.

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