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Adobe Acrobat 9 How-To #94: Handling Form Returns

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Donna L. Baker shows how to use the portfolio features in Adobe Acrobat 9 to keep form returns organized and find the specific results you need.
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If you distribute your form from Adobe Acrobat 9, data from your returned forms is compiled in a PDF portfolio, created as part of the distribution process. As the data starts to flow in, use the PDF portfolio feature to sort or filter the returns, edit data in-line, and add more data as additional returns are received. To open your returns file, you can do the following:

  • Choose Track Forms from the Forms task button's menu.
  • Choose File > Open to locate and select the PDF returns file.
  • Click View Responses on the Tracker. The responses PDF portfolio opens with a welcome page, explaining the tasks you can complete in the file. Click Get Started to close the Welcome window and open the PDF portfolio, shown in Home mode view as a table listing the fields from your form and returned responses (see Figure 1).
    Figure 1

    Figure 1 The returns are listed in the PDF portfolio.

You can perform several maintenance and management tasks with your form returns:

  • Update returns. Click Update to have Acrobat look for new responses online and include them in the portfolio returns, or show a message saying that there are no new responses.
  • Filter the returns. Click Filter to show a list of your form's field names. Click the field name you want to use for filtering, such as Radio Button1 (used in the example form for the recipients to state whether they were attending an event). Choose a condition from a pop-up menu, such as contains (in the example), does not contain, is blank, and so on. Finally, type the condition in the field, such as No. The returns are filtered and your results displayed, as shown in the example in Figure 2. When you're done, click Clear All to remove the filter; click Done to return to the full Home mode view.
    Figure 2

    Figure 2 Filter the returns based on your own criteria.

  • Archive responses. Click Archive to move responses into an archive file for storage. You can select rows in the responses and choose Archive Selected from the Archive pop-up menu, or archive all your responses.
  • Add more returns. Click Add to open the Add Returned Forms dialog box, where you can manually locate and select files to add to the PDF portfolio's list of returns. Once you've located and selected the returns, click OK to close the dialog box and include the new returns.
  • Export results. Click Export to export the results in a CSV (comma-separated value) format for use in a spreadsheet. You can select rows in the responses and choose Export Selected from the Export pop-up menu, or export all your responses. The Select Folder to Save File dialog box opens. Locate and select the folder; then choose the export format (XML or CSV). Click Save to export the data and close the dialog box. The file is now available for use in a spreadsheet or database (see Figure 3).
    Figure 3

    Figure 3 Export the data to a spreadsheet to use for calculations such as number of attendees.

  • Delete results. If you have a results-processing plan in place, such as forwarding comments to a salesperson, you can delete the results when you're done with them, to decrease the volume of returns you have to manage.

Adding Email Form Returns

Sometimes a recipient of your form may attach the form to an email message to return to you. You can easily add those returns to your other returns in your PDF portfolio by using program commands. Follow these steps:

  1. Choose Forms > Compile Returned Forms to open a dialog box. Click Browse to locate and select the response file.
  2. Click Add File.
  3. Repeat as necessary until you've selected all the returns.
  4. Click OK to close the dialog box and add the return data to your PDF portfolio.

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