About data connections

When creating interactive form designs, you can use external data sources (databases, XML data files, XML schemas, and web services) to define field values, populate fields on a form, or collect data entered on a form. Designer provides the data connection tool that lets you define connections to data sources. You can then bind fields that accept these types of data to the data sources. If a field supports scripting, you can write FormCalc or JavaScript solutions for expressing business logic and creating calculations and validations. In addition, you can also take advantage of two custom objects, the Data Drop-down List and the Data List Box, to connect to a database to populate a list box. You can find these two objects on the Custom category of the Object Library palette.

The types of data you choose depend on your form and how you plan to distribute it. You can connect to one or more data sources and bind the data to one or more fields in your form design.



XML Schema

An XML schema specifies how to formally describe elements in an XML document. You can connect one XML schema to a form, and bind specific elements and attributes defined in the schema to fields in the form. You can use this to map data into and out of form fields in a format that conforms to the schema. For more information, see Create a data connection to an XML schema .

Sample XML Data

If you do not have an XML schema, you can connect an XML data file to a form, and bind elements and attributes in the file to fields in your form. The data captured in the form will conform to the XML data file. You can use the data file to provide the mapping of data into and out of form fields in the required format. For more information, see Create a data connection to an XML data file .

Adobe Data Model

Connecting to an Adobe Data Model enables you to create forms that use a data structure captured in AEM forms. Designer saves forms that have an Adobe Data Model data connection in XDP format only. For more information, see Create a data connection to a model .


WSDL file web services provide functions and data to other applications through the Internet by using HTTP/HTTPS and message level (SOAP) authentication standards. The web service can receive and process a command and return the results to your form. You can connect one or more web services to a form.

For more information, see Create a data connection using a WSDL file .

OLEDB Database

You can connect one or more databases to a form to exchange data between the form and the database. You can populate fields with data from a database or integrate data captured in the form with the database. Data exchange is possible for interactive forms in Acrobat using client-side binding. For more information, see Create a data connection to an OLE database .

Designer provides built-in tools for creating, binding, importing, and exporting from and to data sources. However, form authors who are not experienced in working with data sources should seek the assistance of database administrators and other technical staff to provide support for implementing the data connections.

Consider these points when planning how to set up and execute the data exchange required by your form:

  • Identify the data sources you will use to capture user-entered data and to import data into form fields.

  • Decide if you will use field binding to an XML schema or data file to define the structure of the data.

  • Obtain data mapping information, including the data types and structures used by your existing data source.

Note: In Acrobat, security concerns dictate that you cannot specify an ODBC connection string using the Driver=; syntax, so the client system needs a DSN configured for ODBC connection. Also, if you are using external data sources in a form that you want to make available using Adobe Reader, you must set usage rights for the form using Acrobat Reader DC extensions 10.

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