Automating Form Templates
Creating and Working with Forms
Introduction: HotDocs Automator
When creating a HotDocs form template (.HFT) file in previous versions of
HotDocs, you had to use the HotDocs HFT driver, which was only supported for
use with Windows 98 and Windows Me. Starting with the release of HotDocs
2006, these operating systems are no longer supported. Now, beginning with
HotDocs 10, the functionality for creating and saving form templates in PDF format
is integrated with HotDocs.
HotDocs Automator helps you create templates based on graphical forms—or forms that
contain static text and graphics that cannot be changed or modified by users. These kinds
of forms include loan applications, tax forms, or pre-printed court forms.
To create a PDF template, you first start with a PDF document
. Some agencies or
organizations with which you work may provide you with these PDF documents, or you
can create your own using PDF-creation software, such as Adobe Acrobat Professional.
You then use HotDocs to convert that file to HotDocs form template format.
When automating form templates, many tasks are identical to automating text templates—
you must 1) identify each place on the form template where changeable information must
be entered, 2) create fields, and then 3) attach variables to these fields. (See Introduction:
Create and Customize Variables.)
You can create different types of fields, depending on what type of answer the field
requires. For example, edit fields can be used to merge Text, Date, and Number answers,
while check box fields can be used to merge True/False and Multiple Choice answers. In
contrast, control fields control the flow of information but are hidden from end users.
Resource fields, the final field type, allow you to create a resource for the entire form,
which appears as a hyperlink on the form.
Edit and check box fields, with variables attached, allow users to provide information to
complete the form. Sometimes a user’s answer is longer than the space available. By
designating overflow options, you can manage the problem of limited space on your form
templates. When an answer overflows a field, HotDocs provides several ways to adjust
the field or the answer. One solution is to create an addendum after the last page of the
document and save the answers there.
Users assemble form document files from the form templates you develop. They can print
blank versions of the forms, or provide answers for the questions and produce a finished
document. After a form document is saved, users can edit answers in it by using HotDocs
Filler. However, once the document is saved and then viewed in Filler, much of the
template functionality is lost. For example, the form fields no longer process computations;
they simply act as placeholders for the user’s information.
Finally, you can test assemble your form templates to see how they will appear to users.
(See Test Assemble a Document.)