document automation

PDF Templates

Updated: June 8, 2021

You can make any PDF fillable by connecting it to an app.

Create a PDF template

To create a PDF template, simply upload a PDF to the App Builder under the Templates tab:

As soon as you upload a PDF, you will be brought into the PDF template editor. This is where you will add variables and conditional logic to your new template.

Add variables to your template

Adding variables to your PDF template is a two-step process:

Step 1. Draw fields

You can draw several different types of fields onto your PDF. The most common are Text and Checkbox fields: 

Step 2. Assign variable

After you draw a field, you need to assign a variable to it (i.e. what variable do you want to populate this field?). You can assign a variable to a field by either double-clicking on the field itself or clicking on the field once and using the 'Choose a value' dropdown:

Add conditional logic

After you insert a variable onto your template, you can click on that variable to add conditional logic to it:

Clicking the 'Conditionally insert' toggle gives you access to an Expression Editor (learn more about creating conditional logic).

What is unique about creating conditional logic on PDF template variables is that you can define what's known as an "else statement": an alternate definition for the variable to be used if the conditional logic expression is not satisfied.

Typically, you will leave the else statement empty, which amounts to telling your app "insert this variable if the following conditional expression is true, else insert nothing."

Auto map variables to PDF fields

Manually drawing fields and assigning variables can be a time-consuming process. With some preparation, you can use the 'auto map' feature to speed up this process.

Step 1. Prepare the PDF

Before you upload your PDF to the App Builder, (1) draw fields on it using a PDF editor (e.g. Adobe Acrobat's "Prepare Form" tool), and (2) give each field a name that is equal to a variable in your App.

For example, here is a field that was drawn with Adobe Acrobat and given a name of client_name

Step 2. Upload the PDF

After you prepare the PDF by drawing fields with variable names, simply upload the PDF to the App Builder. This will automatically map your PDF fields with the associated variable inside your App.

Notes about this feature

  • In order for auto mapping to work, the variables you wish to link to your PDF must already be defined in the app BEFORE you upload the PDF.
  • If you want to map variables that have a colon in them in your app (i.e. shortcut variables defined by data sources or loops), you must use a special format. For example, if you have shortcut variables like client: name and client: address in your app, you must name the fields in Adobe Acrobat without including the colons but still including the space -- i.e. client name and client address. Including the colon or failing to include the space will prevent the variable from being automatically mapped to those fields in your PDF.

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