Packaging acrotex with TeX Live

Marcel Fabian Krüger tex at
Mon Oct 12 21:06:50 CEST 2020

On Mon, Oct 12, 2020 at 09:55:27AM -0700, Boris Veytsman wrote:
> ZW> From: Zdenek Wagner <zdenek.wagner at>
> ZW> Date: Mon, 12 Oct 2020 11:08:40 +0200
> >> 
> ZW> Unfortunately this is not the case. The Linux version of Acrobat
> ZW> Reader 9 depends on obsolete libraries, their support was discontinued
> ZW> a few years ago and can no longer be installed. This means that I am
> ZW> not able to fill in the XFA forms for more than two years and I google
> ZW> every year. This time I managed to find proprietary Master PDF Editor.
> ZW> In the past I tried several other viewers which were incapable of
> ZW> opening the XFA form.
> >> 
> This is very unfortunate.
> Since the standard is open, I wonder whether (1) there is a developer
> willing to implement it in a library/plugin for popular free browsers
> like xpdf or evince, and (2) it would be a good idea to use devfund
> money to incentivize (1).  I realize this is not strictly TeX issue,
> but I'd argue that a free XFA form reader plugin is important for the
> TeX wellbeing.  What do you think?


I think we are confusing different things here: PDF (including
AcroForms) is an open standard and supported (more or less) by multiple
open-source PDF readers (At least in Okular and Evice, probably PDF.js soon)
The support is far from perfect, but it's usable. These are the forms
which can be created using hyperref or acrotex.

XFA forms on the other hand are not supported by any open-source reader
AFAIK, but there is no open standard for them (Adobe publishes the free
specification though), they can't be created by any TeX package existing
and they are deprecated in the current PDF standard. (Also I think Acrobat
Reader can only edit them if the document has reader extensions enabled, but
that might have changed)
They are used mostly to provide dynamic forms (where e.g. additional
form fields get added on demand) but if I understand the format
correctly, using this requires writing an XML description of the form
which would basically involve creating a XML backend for TeX.
I think it is safe to say that at least without LuaTeX there will be no
TeX generated XFA forms in the foreseeable future.

So in my opinion any resources would be (from a TeX perspective) better invested
in improving the AcroForm and JavaScript support rather than implementing XFA.

Best regards,

> -- 
> Good luck
> -Boris
> Under any conditions, anywhere, whatever you are doing, there is some
> ordinance under which you can be booked.
> 		-- Robert D. Sprecht, Rand Corp.

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