A reader wrote to me about how to automatate a 50-page document that had a mix of canned and uncanned text, data entry fields, etc. I didn't have a perfect solution but the email did remind me about forms.
I wrote an article for TechTarget about how to create forms based on a database; that post is here. The salient portion is actually here on TechTarget. The main point is that the simplest and easiest approach to creating a nice data entry form is through the wizard.
Another approach is to choose File > New > XML Form Document. I haven't even begun to get into the guts of forms like that--here are some of the windows/palettes you get when creating XML forms. Click to see it larger.
As a nonprogrammer, I'd just like to say that Submissions and Bindings sounds a little kinkier than a basic data entry form, and also that I need to do a lot more work before I can blog intelligently on either topic.
And now I'll move on to my main point in this blog, which is....
How to tweak your forms created in the wizard if they're not what you want.
OK. So you've created this form in the wizard.
You want to make a few changes--one, obviously, that the Review field isn't big enough.
Open the database that it was based on, choose Forms, then right-click on the form name and choose Edit.
The form will open up looking like this.
To change the size of a field or make other changes, first ungroup it from its prompt. Right-click on the field, choose Group > Ungroup.
Then just click on the field and resize it the way you would a text box or a graphic.
You can check the form to see if it's what you want now. Click the Design Mode On/Off icon in the Form Controls toolbar. (If you don't see that toolbar, choose View > Toolbars > Form Controls.)
However, the field still doesn't look right--it doesn't wrap and the text is centered vertically in the middle.
So click the Form Design On/Off icon again to go back to edit mode and fix this.
At this point, you always just right-click on the field and choose Control, pretty much regardless of what you need to do. You'll see the form control window. Scroll through the first tab and see if there's anything that jumps out at you. In this case, there is--I changed the text option from single line to Multi Line. (DO NOT CHOOSE MULTILINE WITH FORMATTING. This will delete the connection to the database.)
Now the field looks the way you want.
Now, let's say you need to change one of the fields from a regular entry field to a list box or combo box, which would present a list of choices. A List Box requires the user to select one of the items you set up; a Combo Box lets the user select from the list or enter their own.
To demo this, I'll use the Genre field in this form. I ungroup the field as before, plus I had to rearrange fields below it to give it some room. Then I resize it to make it bigger, so that there'll be room to display the options.
Now I right-click on the field and choose Replace With. Here are all the options. List box, radio buttons, all sorts of fields, etc.>
I'm going to choose Combo Box. Here's what it looks like.
Now I'll create the items that will show up in the list. I right-click and choose Control.
In the window that appears, click on the List Entries field, and type the items you want to appear in the list. After each one, type Shift + Enter to go to the next line. When you're done, close the window.
That's all there is to it. The field will look like this.
And when you create a new record, you get the same options to choose from. The selection is saved in the database the form is connected to.
There's a lot more you can do to tweak forms, of course, but those are two pretty representative types. Just use the Replace option, and right-click and choose Control to manipulate the changed field.