Have you ever had someone send you a PDF form that you had to print, fill out, and scan before returning it to the sender? Much of this hassle could have been avoided if the sender had created an interactive PDF form rather than a simple PDF document. Thankfully, there are lots of tools available for generating various types of fill-able PDF forms.

Note: This article is also available as an image gallery and a video hosted by TechRepublic columnist Tom Merritt.

1: Wondershare PDFelement

Wondershare PDFelement (Figure A) lets you create, convert, or combine PDF documents. The program has a clean look and could almost pass for a Microsoft Office product. Since this program is first and foremost a PDF editor, it should come as no surprise that it includes features such as Extract, Search and Replace, Rotate, and Watermark. However, the application also has a tab dedicated to forms, which lets you add interactive elements such as buttons, text boxes, and check boxes.

Figure A

Wondershare PDFelement sells for $69.95, but a free trial version is available for download.

2: DeskPDF Studio X

DeskPDF Studio X (Figure B) is a nice PDF editor that allows you to create a PDF from almost any file or image. Of course you can also create a blank PDF. One of the best things about this editor is that it doesn’t limit you to creating PDFs. After you create a PDF (or if you have an existing PDF), you can convert it to various Microsoft Office, image, or Web formats. DeskPDF Studio X has an entire tab dedicated to the creation of online forms and allows you to insert standard items, such as text boxes, combo boxes, and list boxes. The Forms tab also features Javascript support, which allows for a degree of document automation.

Figure B

DeskPDF Studio X sells for $79.95, but a free trial version is available for download.

3: PDF Forms

PDF Forms (Figure C) is a nice application, but it definitely isn’t for everyone. The thing that makes PDF Forms unique is that it is command-line based. If you imagine trying to generate a new form from the command line, you can begin to understand why this tool can be challenging to use. Even so, PDF Forms gives you fine-grained control over fonts, text position, and even document metadata. This isn’t a tool for those who want to create forms quickly, but if you need to be able to script the form creation process it might be right for you.

Figure C

PDF Forms sells for $99.95, but a free trial version is available for download.

4: Amyuni PDF Suite Professional

Amyuni PDF Suite Professional (Figure D) is a relatively simple tool for building PDF documents. It has all the features that you would expect, like the ability to add text, images, objects, and interactive items, such as text fields, radio buttons, and check boxes. One of the really nice things about this application is that it doesn’t require you to build a document from scratch. You can start out by importing an existing PDF file and use it as a starting point for the document you want to create.

Figure D

Amyuni PDF Suite Professional sells for $128.70, but a free trial version is available for download.

5: FormDocs

FormDocs (Figure E) is a PDF tool that has its own built-in form designer. The program doesn’t seem to offer as many design elements as some of the other tools on this list, but it does have the basics covered and is easy to use. You can build interactive forms using basic drag-and-drop tools or import Microsoft Office documents and use them as the basis for building forms.

Figure E

FormDocs sells for $99.95, but a free trial is available for download.

Also read…

What’s you’re favorite PDF form tool?

If you have discovered a particularly useful app for generating interactive PDF forms, share your recommendations with fellow TechRepublic members.