The PDF Association reminds us that we can use PDF forms for electronic submissions. It’s a useful feature, and I’ve filled out PDF forms now and then. However, one point seems wrong to me:
PDF/A, the archival subset of PDF technology, provides a means of ensuring the quality and usability of conforming PDF pages (including PDF forms) without any external dependencies. PDF/A offers implementers the confidence of knowing that conforming documents and forms will be readable 10, 20 or 200 years from now.
The problem is that PDF/A doesn’t allow form actions. ISO 19005-1 says, “Interactive form fields shall not perform actions of any type.” You can have a form and you can print it, but without being able to perform the
submit-form action, it isn’t useful for digital submissions.
You could have an archival version of the form and a way to convert it to an interactive version, but this seems clumsy. Please let me know if I’ve missed something.
Update: There’s some kind of irony in the fact that the same day that I posted this, I received a print-only PDF form which I’ll now have to take to Staples to fax to the originator.