Debugging tips

Remember the following tips when debugging calculations and scripts.

Sample data

Remember to specify a preview data file in the Form Properties dialog box. Specifying a preview data file does not save the data into the final PDF.

Master pages

To debug master pages, drop a different object on each master page to find out which one is specified.

First page in a form

Designer looks at the root subform to determine which page to begin the form on. If the root subform does not determine the first page, the first master page is used by default.

Incremental debugging

When debugging a form design, start by removing pieces of the form until you cannot reproduce the problem. Try to isolate the source of the problem after you've reviewed every script and object property. To debug subforms, you can specify a thick colored border around the subform, or use a fill. Colors or fill can help indicate which subform is used and its span. Usually, this technique works well when you want to determine the bounds of an object and can show why it is placed in a certain location.

Hierarchy view

View your form design by using the Hierarchy view to get a better understand of it. The order of the objects that are listed in the hierarchy indicates the order they are placed on the page. Some objects are not clickable if they are below one another.

Script error messages

In Designer, script error messages appear on the Log tab of the Report palette when you preview the form. If the form design contains FormCalc scripts and the error occurs on the server, the warnings appear in the Log tab. If the FormCalc script error occurs on the client, the message appears in Adobe Reader or Acrobat.

An error in a FormCalc script prevents the entire script from executing.

An error in a JavaScript executes until it reaches the error.

Syntax errors in FormCalc

Syntax errors in FormCalc are sometimes difficult to solve. When the "Syntax error near token '%1' on line %2, column %3" appears, %1 usually contains the token (word) nearest to the error. Therefore the token is possibly correct and the error is not related to the error other than its proximity to it. For example, the following script generates the 7008 error: "Syntax error near token 'then' on line x, column y."

var b = abc(1) 
if (b ne 1) then 

The problem is that an endif token is missing from the script. The last correct token is then (comments do not count as tokens). Adding an endif statement to the end of the script fixes the problem.

Functions defined in a script object

You can only call a function that is defined in a script object with a JavaScript script. Make sure that you change the script language to JavaScript in the Script Editor. If not, you may see a message indication that Designer cannot resolve the script object. The same error can occur when a syntax issue occurs in the script object.

Web service calls

When creating web service calls, use the postExecute event to see what was returned and whether the web service issued any error messages.

Long SOM expressions

When typing long, multilayered SOM expression, press the Ctrl key and click the object on the canvas. The command inserts the object's SOM expression into the script. The SOM expression is relative to the object hosting the script. To insert the absolute SOM, press Ctrl+Shift and click the object. These commands work when you click objects in the Design view, not in the Hierarchy view.

Test SOM expressions

When a long SOM expression fails, start back at the root of the expression and test each dot with className until you reach the problem. For example, test a.b.c.d by starting at the root:

  • console.println(a.className)

  • console.println(a.b.className)

  • console.println(a.b.c.className)

  • console.println(a.b.c.d.className)

Use script objects to debug form designs

Use a script object, such as a fragment, to help you debug form designs:

  • Dump out a node hierarchy under a node.

  • Output the value of a property or attribute of a node.

  • Output whether a node has a property or attribute specified.

  • Output the SOM expression of a node.

  • Dump out the xml src of a given node.

Here is an example of a script object that contains several debugging functions:

<script contentType="application/x-javascript" name="XFADEBUG"> 
//This script object provides several tracing functions to help debug a form design  
//Dump out node hierarchy to console.println() 
function printNode(node) {... } 
//Dump out SOM expression to console.println() function printSOM(node) {... } 
//Dump out property or attribute value function printValue(node, attrOrPropertyName) {...} 
function printXMLSource(node) { ....} 
function printHasPropertySpecified(node, prop) {...}\\ 

Things to avoid when building forms

  • Calling xfa.layout.relayout(). on the docReady even causes problems because the docReady event triggers every time the layout is ready.

  • Placing a flowed container inside a positioned container causes problems with page breaks, overlapping objects, and repeating subforms. The root subform is a flowed container. Take advantage of it and place your flowable containers inside the root subform by unwrapping the page subforms after your layout is done. Alternatively, set the flow of the page subforms to flowed.

  • Blank page issue (Acrobat 7.1 or earlier). At design time, a blank page is displayed when the subform does not fit within the boundaries of the content area. To fix the blank page, either resize the subform or allow it to break between pages. If a user is using Acrobat 7.1 or earlier, the second-level subform appears on a different page.

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