11/2/09

Try it anyway; you'll never know if it'll work out

And on with the theme of trying something new. I have always been impressed by those forms that you get from government organisations, and other places, where you can download a PDF, print it, and send a much nicer looking copy than the one that you fill out by hand. Of course, I always wanted to make them too, so that anyone ordering from here need not hand in something that looks a mess, but rather is neat, and typed, and looks pretty. Unfortunately, I thought it was something terribly complicated, and out of my grasp. Instead, I decided to look it up, and see what I could find.

I found a few tutorials that made it look fairly straight-forward, so I gave it a shot on my computer. Who knew? It really was that straight forward, and fairly simple. I was shocked at how quickly the software found the fields, and did the job quickly.

Why is this such a big deal? Thanksgiving is but one event, and the menu for that won't matter very much in a couple of weeks, right? So why did I bother to "waste" time on making it work, when I could have been satisfied with the printed forms we already got back from the print shop?

Couple of reasons. If you're looking at the bigger picture, this is now something that I can do for other applications. It need not end with this one event. How easy would it be to be in your own computer, download and fill out the form quickly, and with no hassle, and have a nice neat output to print and send off (via fax, mail, what have you) or bring in. This applies to not only food that you're doing as take-away from the restaurant (such as the food by the LB for the T-giving event), but also to catering orders, mail ordering, food for pick up on a later date (for any reason, be it a birthday cake, or a bunch of food for a gathering at your house). This would expedite so much more than this one event.

What's even better is that I've done the leg-work, and found the site that explains it the clearest. There's a couple of things to remember:

1. Make sure that the PDF you're working with does not have any security on it. If it does, go ahead and unlock the document before working on it. It took me about five minutes to realise that I was trying to work on a stuck file, and wondering why everything was greyed out.
2. In Acrobat Pro, go to the following menu: View > Toolbars > Forms. If you can't see the forms toolbar, that tutorial goes to waste.
3. To quickly recognise all the underlined areas on your form, go to the Forms button, and click "create new form". The wizard will walk you through the step-by-step needed to make all those underlined spaces into fields where text can be entered. It works relatively quickly, and has a pretty good understanding of how forms work. Neat part is that with that same wizard, you can import another file, import a scanned document (haven't tried this yet), and do a bunch of other nifty stuff.

Of course this only runs in Acrobat Pro, so it doesn't work if you've only got the reader from the site.

It's got a lot of other advanced features, like automatic calculation of fields (where you set the parameters, and it does its business) but I haven't begun to futz around with those features as of yet, because they're a little advanced right about now.

The reason I'm sharing this with you is that I want you to take a chance, once in a while, and try something you previously thought was out of your grasp. If it means asking questions to people who are more knowledgeable (and I know of very few as all-seeing as Google), and then give it a try. The worst thing that happens is that it doesn't quite work out like you expected, and you have to tweak around, and fix things. That's fine too! Not everything will work every time for everyone. But until you break through that initial fear of failure, and try that new thing, you'll still be wondering what could have been, rather than doing what can become!
Post a Comment