Creating a PDF file with variables
Is there a way to prepare a PDF file in any of the programs in the Adobe Creative Suit, making a part of it change with input from the user?
For example, you make an invitation template. You make the "name" variable. Save it as PDF. The person who gets the PDF can just enter a name in a field, and the invitation would be addressed to that person. So when you are designing it, you don't need to know the names, you just create a template.
That would be a nice feature, if it existed. Unfortunately, without scripting there isn't a general way to pass a variable to PDF in quite the way you're asking.
In the simple case of an invitation, you can create a fillable Acrobat form field quite easily from InDesign in two ways. One uses InDesign's interactive features, the other (simpler, in this case) uses Acrobat's form recognition feature.
Create the invitation in InDesign. Place a fine rule where the name should go. This can be a .25 point, 10% grey rule. It doesn't have to be prominent.
Export to PDF using, for example, the "High Quality Print" option, which is good for desktop printers.
In Acrobat, under
Tools > Formschoose
Edit. Acrobat will pop up a message saying there are no form fields in the PDF, and offer to detect them automatically. Select
Acrobat will find the rule/underscore, make it a text field, and switch to form editing mode.
Right-click the field label in the
Fieldspane and choose
Properties. In the dialog, the Appearance tab lets you choose the font that will be used when the user types in a name. Remember that the font must be one that exists on the user's system, so choose one that ships with both OS X and Windows to avoid problems. Leave
Font Sizeset to "Auto." Acrobat will automatically reduce the font size when necessary to accommodate long names.
Preview and test. When you're satisfied with the result, save the file.