Death To Fillable PDFs And MS Word Forms - InformationWeek

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Death To Fillable PDFs And MS Word Forms
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User Rank: Ninja
12/26/2014 | 3:35:40 PM
Forget about MS and Adobe
You know how you can avoid the pain of MS fill-in forms and Adobe bloatware that will work just fine for cross platform compatibility?  Use a Linux distro and an open source software .pdf.  The former is free (unless you want an enterprise version such as Red Hat) and the latter can be purchased for pennies.  
Non profit techie
Non profit techie,
User Rank: Apprentice
12/19/2014 | 2:37:45 PM
Re: I could have written this article myself...
As a non-profit worker, we love when people volunteer, but have to think about longevity/sustainabilty. Are you on call if it breaks? What happens when you no longer want to volunteer or have a falling out with the a staff member (I've seen this before). Also, apps need servers. Who is paying for that? 

I am building this talent in-house and even I am hesitant to leave it to one person.  We are moving some things to the cloud as we use SurveyMonkey, Wufoo and Google forms, but some forms were too complicated/just not right for them. There is software, but it usually affordable for 90% of the companies who buy it (not us). I was on my to learn the Adobe fillable form skillset, but online forms just make more sense now. For the expensive cloud holdouts, the perceived gain/benefit is still much less than percieved loss/investment.
User Rank: Ninja
12/18/2014 | 2:11:27 PM
Re: I could have written this article myself...
I second you on secure web forms.  If it means I can properly view it across multiple devices, not worry about forms crashing before they are filled out, or worse, have to deal with multiple file formats, I am all for it!  Sadly, probably not as practical for many organizations who love the simplicity of creating PDFs, but it would definitely increase response rates!
User Rank: Strategist
12/18/2014 | 10:23:02 AM
I could have written this article myself...
I have seen this problem SO MANY TIMES, especially with school forms, non-profit organizations and small businesses of all types and sometimes even with government agencies. If you don't have a programmer on staff, this is the inevitable result. The worst by far are Word documents - the formatting never comes out quite right and the temptation to fix the problems goes against the usual strict instructions "do not modify this form in any way".

The ONLY solution that I think works is a secure web page (too many times I have gone into the "submit online" mode as an alternative and found that there was a broken or expired certificate or no SSL at all) with the submission populating a database (NOT a spreadsheet, not simply an email to the creator of the form) and an automatic acknowledgement email to the user. Anything less - as is often the case when using Google Forms or similar products - looks good but causes other problems. How many people have submitted a form multiple times because they submit it and then get a reminder the next day "don't forget to submit by the deadline" and since they have no confirmation they submit again? But a solution like this generally requires a programmer to set it up, and I know that any time I complain to a non-profit organization I become that programmer for free, or (with any organization) it often falls on deaf ears "it works well enough, quit complaining".


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