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How to create a PDF Form Overlay.
A PDF form overlay is a predefined image, or electronic form, that is printed along with data fields in an output process. The use of form overlays can help eliminate the need for preprinted forms. These instructions explain the basic steps for creating an output process with a form overlay.

You will have to determine the scale of your image in relation to the form size that will be used for the output. It may be necessary to create a form in System Administration that is adequate for the overlay you are using. For this example, I have a form named PDF-6P10 that is a type PDF with form length of 60 and width of 80. The overlay image is a .png file named POForm.png.

Although Appx accepts jpg, gif and png images, the png format is the recommended image type to use.

1. The first step is to obtain or develop the electronic form you wish to use in your output process and create the Appx form definition as described above.

2. Copy the overlay file (POForm.png in this example) to the AppxPath/vv/aaa/Resource directory where vv is the application version and aaa is the application.

3. In Application Design add a Named Resource (PO FORM in this example). Make the State ENABLED and set the Type to Design File. The Location is the name of the overlay file, POForm.png. Note; match the case in the Location to that of the actual file name in the Resource directory. The image will not display if the name and case is not exactly the same.

4. Now create an output process. In my example I add a new output process called PRINT PO, Columns set to 80, Standard Page heading set to No, Column headings set to No, and remove the default Separator character (=).

5. Set the Preferred Form in Additional Attributes with the predefined form for this output process, PDF-6P10 in my example. If the default form is not set to the form name you have defined the printed result may not match your design.

6. Select PAGE-START for the first output image.

7. Set the length and width to match the form you will be using. In this example the form is length 60 and width of 80.

8. Navigate to the image editor.

9. Select the Picture icon from the toolbar and drag out a box the size of the display area.

10. Enter the Resource name you added above, PO FORM in this example (donít forget to include the Application Id). Save these settings.

11. Page the image down (Cntl-down arrow) and drag the bottom of the Picture widget to the bottom of the display area. Repeat this step until you are at the bottom of the display area, line 60.

12. Go back to the top of the display area (Cntl-up arrow).

13. Edit the Picture properties and set the scale to a number that fits your liking. This might be a trail and error process until the overlay is exactly the way you want it. If necessary the overlay image may have to be adjusted using an editing tool such as MS Paint or PhotoShop.

14. Save the output image.

15. Return to the Frame level and set the length to 1, explanation below.

16. Add other frames as needed to complete the output process. On my PO FORM there is a place for repeating and non-repeating data. For the non-repeating fields, the top of the PO FORM, I set the Size of this frame to 21 by 80. There are 21 rows on the form before the repeating line items begin.

17. In the image area for ach frame add the fields, placing them at the approximate location to match your form. You can fine tune their locations while testing the process.

18. Create a Job process to include a Disposition. The Disposition Form Id must be the form you added for this output (PDF-6P10) and the Format must be PDF. You can set these parameters in Pre-Invocation of the Disposition job step for testing.

19. Run the job to test the output process and make adjustments as necessary.

The PAGE-START frame was changed back to 1 line after dragging the picture widget out so that the output would be a single page. PDF output cannot distinguish blank areas within a widget. If the length was left at 60 lines, the output would have printed the form as a page followed by the text on the second page based on my form and image sizes. By changing the length to 1 the output prints only one line, although the actual image extends beyond that. The text image then starts on line 2 of the output for the length indicated. The result is that your data is printed on top the overlay image on a single page.

The fit of the fields into the boxes of the form can be further refined by creating the text or fields as widgets and using micro adjustments to move the widgets into the exact location. Donít forget you can also adjust the font type, size and color for each widget.


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2007-Feb-08 5:15pm
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