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I have the requirement of using data collected in a custom list to complete a Form PDF. Here is the thing, I need a way to allow the end-user to decide when the PDF will be created and what Form PDF to create from a List of Form PDF's in a Document Library.

So I guess I have two questions, is this possible with OOBE and if not is there an easy way to accomplish this?

We have approx. 50 Form PDF's that we will need to make this work with.

  • I should have added - we don't have a need to save the created PDF, just email/print after it has been populated. – ITT4R CORP Oct 17 '15 at 19:49
  • There is no OOTB mechanism in SharePoint to perform a "mail merge" using a SharePoint List as the data source directly into PDF or Word for that matter. You are going to need some custom code to do it. – Erik Perez Oct 18 '15 at 0:49
  • Can you point me in the right direction to learn how to accomplish this task? – ITT4R CORP Oct 18 '15 at 13:32
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Creating a solutions that fits your needs will be a "complicated" development task... especially in Online environment.
To create a PDF file, you have two options:

  1. [NOT AVAILABLE IN ONLINE] Create a Word document in C#, by making use of the OpenXML SDK (allows you to create .docx files from scratch or edit existing files). And then use the Word Automation services to convert the .docx to .pdf. As this is ony available in on-premises environments, this can be done in the scope of a farm (full-trust) solution (WSP).
  2. Create an App (sorry, a "SharePoint add-in" as we must say now), and probably a "provider-hosted" kind of app, so you can have server-side code. That code embeds a third-party library to create/edit PDF (some are free, others are paid). Use standard app techniques to connect back to the SP list and library to read/write data.
  • ok, then what if it wasn't a PDF but a Word Document/Template, I could always "convert" the PDF to DOCX, would this simplify the task? – ITT4R CORP Oct 18 '15 at 14:24
  • I don't think so :( But with Word files, a (very simple yet incomplete) option would be to store them in a document library, with metadata matching the data of the form. Then, in the Word templates, insert QuickParts for each metadata you want to display in the body. – Evariste Oct 18 '15 at 14:34
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As mentioned in the other answers you will need to program a non-trivial application, which is quite tricky in SharePoint Online.

You can also try and leverage existing third party apps. Full disclaimer, I work for such a third party.

What you need to do (roughly) is the following, but it will still not be easy.

  1. Install a 3rd party App from the SharePoint App Store such as the Muhimbi PDF Converter for SharePoint Online.

  2. Create a SharePoint Designer Workflow using the workflow components that accompany that App. Have a look at an example video.

  3. Either use an MS-Word template to pick up meta-data and convert that to PDF as described here.

  4. OR use PDF templates and draw the content of the meta-data fields in there as per this post.

Let me know if you have any questions. I'd be happy to help.

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I am using PDF Share Forms OnDemand to fill invoice forms, when billing my customers. Automation is done through standard workflow process, using PDFSF actions to read and update PDF form fields. They have a free trial on the website http://www.pdfshareforms.com/pdf-share-forms-ondemand/

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