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Turn Off Highlighting Form Fields in Acrobat

Recently I’ve been working on an interactive PDF that contains a number of form fields, and is intended to be used live in meetings, to gather information about customer workflows; the attendees will see the form displayed on a large screen so they can see what I’m adding to the form. The layout is a very clean and attractive design based on Material principles and the PDF is an intermediary step in designing a web experience, eventually, so it’s important that as far as is practicable (as there are obvious limitations) it looks to them like that kind of experience.

This is one of those occurrences where form-field highlighting gets in the way; that feature is an important aspect of usability if a form is being distributed or made available for completion anonymously, but in a presentation scenario such as this case it has an effect on the design.

Because it is such an important part of the accessibility/usability aspect of forms, it is turned on by default and where there used to be a toggle for highlighting form fields at a document level, that has been removed in Acrobat DC, and it’s a preference for the user/application.

So, is it still possible at a document level? Yes—AcrobatUsers has a solution for XI, and here’s how in Acrobat DC:

Turn Off Form Field Highlighting in Acrobat DC

If you’re stuck for a PDF, there’s a very simple one here: http://bit.ly/2w3redQ (it’s the one used in this tutorial and pictured below—did say it was very simple).

When you have your form ready to use and open in Acrobat DC, go to the Tools tab and type a J into the search field to reveal the JavaScript Tool (if you’re not short on time, scroll down the page)—click/tap on the Document Javascripts link and a dialog will open.

Adding the Script to Turn Off Highlighting

  1. Give this Script a name to tell you what it is/does—something like hilightOff—then click Add
  2. The JavaScript Editor will open, pre-populated with an empty function—you can delete that and replace it with:
    var rths = app.runtimeHighlight ; 
    app.runtimeHighlight = false ;
  3. Click OK to return to the Document JavaScripts dialog, and click/tap Close to exit

Save your document, close it and reopen it—highlighting should now be turned off—but as we are modifying a user preference that will affect all documents we should turn it back on again when we close this document.

Restore Highlighting on Document Close

In the Tools Panel (on the right-hand-side—if you can’t see it there’s a little arrow there that will expand the panel for you) type Ja in the Search field at the top and click/tap on Document Actions:

  1. In the When This Happens area choose Document Will Close
  2. Then click/tap Edit and the JavaScript Editor will open
  3. Add this script:
    app.runtimeHighlight = rths ;
  4. Close the editor and you’ll see your line of script in the Execute This JavaScript field—close the dialog by clicking/tapping OK and save your document

This resets the user’s preference back to the default. Save your document and you should be good to go!

Doughnut Chart: Question from Youtube

Good question from a viewer on YouTube, relating to creating segments as part of a whole with a doughnut chart, so that you could represent constituent parts of a whole. Take for example a chart like the [entirely fictitious] one below, showing sci-fi titles in my media library:

You can see that there are 60% Star Trek movies, 25% Star Wars and 15% Doctor Who; of that, the Star Trek titles are composed of 20% Original series, 10% Next Generation, 50% Deep Space Nine and 20% Voyager.

All I did here to achieve this was first of all create my major-split pie chart, then position that in the centre of my document (you really need the Smart Guides turned on to do that quickly) then copy that to the clipboard.

Modify the data

Right-click the chart and select the Data… option to modify the data. All you need to know now is what 1% of your major value is (in this case, with the major value being 60%, then 10% will be 6, so 1% would be .6) so you can use multiples of that to achieve your divisions. The splits in this example are easy, of course, but 20%=12, 10%=6, 50%=30 and then we have another 20% so the first four values entered would be 12, 6, 30, 12 followed by the two remaining major values of 25 and 15.

Now Tap S to access the Scale Tool and enter a uniform value over 100% to make this chart larger (the example above was something like 116%), then once you’ve applied that, use the Paste in Front command (CMD-F on the Mac and CTRL-F on Windows) to drop your original pie chart down on top.

Colour-Up

Use the Group Selection Tool (nested with the Direct Selection Tool) to target your slices, and then apply your colour swatches to them. Don’t forget that you’ve got the Color Guide Panel to help you if you want to create quick variations of colours, too.

Make the Doughnut

Now you can make the clipping mask, then apply it to the two charts—refer to the original movie if you don’t know how to do that—and you’re done. The Layers Panel will be your best buddy if you need to select either of the charts to modify the data, and the Group Selection Tool makes targeting pie-slices.

Learn More

Want to find out more infographic tips, tricks and techniques? Then why not check out my Lynda.com course “Creating Infographics with Illustrator

Mazes and Labyrinths in Illustrator Made Easier

As mentioned on one-or-two occasions before, tutorial videos are something I watch almost every day; I’m always really interested to see how others are achieving a result and passing that knowledge on. The tutorials often provide fuel for this blog and my YouTube channel, if there are smarter, faster ways to achieve the same result, and this is one such example—one of the tutorials (actually great in content, look and production values, btw) took fifteen minutes to achieve, was dreadfully inflexible and involved tons of copying/pasting and steps that should be completely unnecessary.

So, as I do before I write a post or record a video, I reproduce the end result a few times, then once at my “normal” speed. It is possible to complete the maze from this tutorial in a little over three minutes, and slightly faster with a tablet (it’s mega-fast on something like a Cintiq) but it’s more likely to be five or six minutes; that means you could make two or three attempts in the same time as those viewing the other tutorials, so let’s make you faster!

Start by watching the maze video and then try the labyrinth exercise out,

Make A Maze in Adobe Illustrator: Video

Make A Chinese-style Labyrinth

My choice of document for this exercise was a 1920×1080 document from the Art & Illustration category in CC2017 but you can work with whatever suits you.  you may find that Smart Guides are useful and you can toggle these on/off with the shortcut ⌘-U (Ctrl-U on Windows) but please note that they are usually on by default.

Polar Grid Tool

The Polar Grid Tool is nested with the line tool, and the quickest route to find that is to tap the Backslash key (\) and then press and hold on that tool to access its buddies. It’s possible to change the number of concentric circles and dividers that this tool produces by using the arrow keys on your keyboard but here we’ll use the dialog as it makes life easier, so simply click on your artboard and the dialog will appear.

The size you choose will depend on how big your artboard choice was, and how big you’d like the labyrinth to be, but choose 8 concentric dividers and 0 radial dividers then click OK. Drag the resulting group to the centre of the artboard (the Smart Guides will help with that).

Group Selection Tool

For my labyrinth, I actually only need six circles, so I’m going to delete the innermost ones. Grab the Group Selection Tool (nested with the Direct Selection Tool) then select and remove the circles we don’t need. In case you’re wondering why we didn’t start off with drawing six, give it a try in another document and you’ll see that the centre radius is too tight—you could scale the result up but that takes longer.

Strokes

Now increase the stroke weight for the circles so that they are more-or-less the same width as the gaps between them; I find that the easiest way to do this is select them, then click in the stroke width field (either in the panel or the Control Strip) and then use the arrow keys to increase/decrease the width until they look right—don’t forget that you can hold down SHIFT to increase the weight by a factor of 10.

Pick up the Line Tool and draw a line as shown below; use SHIFT to keep it straight and make sure that it pokes out from the top and bottom a bit. It needs to be aligned to the centre horizontally

Leave the line selected and tap V to get the Selection Tool, then hit RETURN on your keyboard to access the Move dialog. Type in double your stroke weight—so if you decided on a 32pt stroke, type in 64pt (make sure to add the pt) and then either click Copy or hold down ALT/OPTION and hit RETURN.

Use the Transform Again command—⌘-D (Ctrl-D on Windows)—to repeat that transformation and create another copy; you need to have a line for each gap between the concentric circles (my version has six circles so five gaps).

Switch to the Direct Selection Tool (A) and click on the anchor point at the top of the last line, then shorten the line as shown below; it needs to connect with the next-to-smallest line. Now switch back to the Selection Tool (V) and select all of your lines, except the one at the centre; tap O to pick up the Reflect Tool, then holding down ALT click on the line at the centre—choose Vertical and again click Copy or do the ALT+RETURN thing. This is what you should have by this stage. Now select only the long lines then tap R to get the Rotate Tool and just hit RETURN to get the dialog up.Set the angle to 90º and just like some previous steps, create copies that are rotated as below
like this:

Drawing the Labyrinth with the Shape Builder Tool

Now select all and outline the paths (Object > Path > Outline Stroke) then switch to the Shape Builder Tool (SHIFT-M) and now all we have to do is work our way around, removing parts that we don’t want by holding down the ALT (or OPTION if you’re on a U.S. keyboard).

You can remove the ends of the strokes and the shapes in the centre of the circles using SHIFT+ALT which takes the Shape Builder into area subtract mode. Start by cutting in from the bottom as shown, then begin making your journey around the labyrinth, keeping that ALT key down to subtract. If you make a mistake, simply undo and try again!

You’re basically moving towards the centre, and then winding your way back out to the outside, finally breaking through into the next quarter.

The last bit is slightly shorter than the other winds

and from there you complete your journey by breaking into the centre

Unite The Shapes

Select everything and then use the Pathfinder (if you don’t see the panel, then you’ll find it under the Window menu) to unite all of the shapes into one Make it Gold

If you want to make it nice and gold and shiny-looking like the example below, you can load the Metal gradient set as shown below

Wrapping Up

This technique can be used on many shapes, although sometimes you really have to think about how to place the lines. To get the shapes reducing or enlarging at the right interval, use a blend with either the specified steps or distance options, then expand the blend. As with all of these things, it’s just another technique at your disposal and it’s worth doing a bit of practice to perfect it.

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