Creating form designs that have a flowable layout

There are two basic approaches to creating a form design containing subforms that adjust to accommodate data:

  • Starting the form design with a fixed layout

  • Creating the form design in a flowable layout

Both methods produce the same results. However, you may find that one suits your design style more than the other. As you become more familiar with creating form designs that have a flowable layout, you can adopt a style that works best for you.

Start with a fixed layout

If you are familiar with creating forms that have a fixed layout, you may find that starting your design with a fixed layout is most comfortable and familiar. You can plan the layout of the form, including the necessary objects and information that you want users to see. Using a fixed layout, build the form design by using as many master pages and design pages as are required. When the object layout and formatting are completed, set the appropriate properties to those areas of the form design that flow content.

In addition, this approach provides the easiest and most straightforward way of converting an existing form that has a fixed layout to a form design that has a flexible layout.

The following steps provide a general idea of the design process for creating a form design starting with a fixed layout, assuming that the planning stage is completed.

  1. Create the required master pages.

  2. On the page, create the form content. If you are converting a form that has a fixed layout, simply begin by wrapping the objects on the form into subforms. If you are starting with a blank form, do the following tasks:

    • Add objects to the form and enclose them in the appropriate subforms.

    • Apply the necessary formatting to the objects.

    • Finalize the layout of the objects within their subforms, and subforms on the page.

    • Add scripting if necessary.

  3. Implement the dynamic concepts:

    • Unwrap the default subforms on each of the pages. The subforms become children of the root subform, form1, which has flowed content. From this point on, you are designing in a flowable layout. Notice that the subforms are positioned one below the other because the flow direction is top to bottom.

    • Apply the necessary formatting to the subforms, such as subform binding type and borders.

    • Define the flow. Set the occurrence values, page breaks, leader and trailer subforms, define which subforms to keep together, associate subforms to master pages, and set margins.

  4. Test the form by using sample data.

    Note: The sample forms included with Designer follow this procedure. For usability reasons, the subforms that contain the actual content are wrapped inside a subform that has its binding type set to none. By configuring the subforms in this way, you can quickly understand the overall structure of a form when you see it in Hierarchy View for the first time.

Tips for starting with a fixed layout

When you are creating form designs by starting with a fixed layout, keep in mind the following points:

  • Set the form’ content to flowed only when you are satisfied with the layout. When the form content is set to flowed, you can revert to a positioned content, but you may experience problems with the form layout. For example, if you choose to wrap the subforms inside a single positioned container, the subforms are positioned exactly where they were on their pages and may overlap. To avoid the overlapping, wrap the subforms by using page grouping.

  • The default minimum and maximum count for subforms is 1. Adjust these values for forms with a flowable layout.

  • Wrapping objects inside a subform discards any extra space defined beyond the objects. Add left and right margins to realign the subform horizontally. You can resize the subform, but doing so repositions the objects because they are positioned relatively to the parent.

// Ethnio survey code removed