Formatta deserves more attention

A while back I posted that I *hate* Adobe’s PDF concept. Here’s a little re-cap of why:

It’s a dead end. You can’t mark it up for revision except in printed form.

It’s restricting – you can’t get halfway through a 10 page form, decide to save, and come back later. Can’t save the form at all, actually (not without an elaborate server-side process).

It’s defacto. PDF this, PDF that. For publishing a whitepaper, sure, it’s not bad. For creating a usable form/document/interactive experience, it sucks.

The saga continues: I spent 26 consecutive hours at work last week creating HTML/CSS/Javascript versions of the PDF forms I’m working with so that the data and form can be stored in a single document. CSS handles formatting the data well, Javascript handles filling the form fields, numbering the pages, etc. They’re pretty cool HTML forms. But they still print poorly (footers aren’t really at the foot), and different browsers still display them differently.

And then Saturday, out of frustration with no good answers, I flexed my search term imagination and discovered the best solution I can imagine…

Here’s the competition, and IMHO, the clearly better alternative: Formatta Filler. The Formatta software, like a PDF, presents a form that the user can’t alter (except to fill in fields). BUT, the user can save his data – combining the form with the data, and preserving it’s ability to be edited later. It handles submission via http better than Reader does (more formats, easier to use), and it’s also free.

The designer app costs more than Adobe Acrobat, I’ll grant you, but it’s still just $1,000. That’s not a bad deal for such a great improvement over PDF’s.

There’s not much about them on the internet, so I’m posting here so others will notice. They ought to put the PDF in its grave.

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3 Comments

  1. I tested too and it seems nice solution that I have been looking for since years ago…

  2. Hate to disagree! I hate the formatta products. I have tried to use them for two simple applications on line. The main issues I found were when I developed the forms using designer they never worked as expected. The tab stops would randomly change – the “secure” signing is a complete joke. Don’t get me started on the crappy language you have to program in.
    My users did not like downloading another application (Filler) to run these things either.

    We changed back to PDF’s and dumped that crap from Formatta.

  3. As much as I thought the Formatta app was better, at work we eventually went another direction entirely, for similar reasons.
    Our users did not want to have to install another plugin.
    Nobody else had heard of Formatta either and didn’t trust them to be around for years.
    The developer environment was foreign to our form creators.
    There was no easy “print to formatta” option like were getting for PDFs.

    Thanks for the feedback.

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