Variable Content PDF eForm

Applicant Resubmit Checklist eForm for Bureau of Development Services

Architects, Construction Developers, and Homeowners

Create a sin­gle doc­u­ment to cap­ture a set of data from a poten­tial­ly large pool of data with­out over­load­ing the respon­dent with too many form fields.

My Role(s)/Contribution(s):
Project Management, PDF eForm Development

Primary Tool(s) Employed:
Adobe InDesign, Adobe Acrobat

Applicants seek­ing con­struc­tion and relat­ed per­mits must sub­mit their appli­ca­tions and draw­ings to the City of Portland’s Bureau of Development Services. If the Bureau requests changes, the appli­cant must resub­mit changed draw­ings and must include a sum­ma­ry of the changes using the Applicant Resubmit Checklist.

My first week on the job at the City of Portland’s Bureau of Development Services, a work­ing group com­pris­ing rep­re­sen­ta­tives from sev­en dif­fer­ent depart­ments draft­ed a 27-question Applicant Resubmit Checklist cov­er­ing every pos­si­ble change an appli­cant may make. The result was a 6‑page, intim­i­dat­ing print­able PDF appli­cants would be expect­ed to print, com­plete, scan, and sub­mit; each appli­cant would only need to answer a frac­tion of the ques­tions, as spe­cif­ic to the types of changes made to the con­struc­tion plans.

I sug­gest­ed a vari­able con­tent PDF that asked a hand­ful of broad ques­tions and then dynam­i­cal­ly dis­played addi­tion­al ques­tions as need­ed to cap­ture specifics.

Within min­utes, I had built a proof-of-concept vari­able con­tent PDF eform, and was sub­se­quent­ly placed in the role of man­ag­ing the project.

Through sev­er­al revi­sions and meet­ings with stake­hold­ers, the 27 ques­tions were pri­or­i­tized and dis­tilled into Yes/No answers. If the appli­cant answered “No” regard­ing a broad type of change, no addi­tion­al ques­tions were shown to the appli­cant. When the appli­cant select­ed “Yes,” one or more pre­vi­ous­ly invis­i­ble form fields and hyper­links would appear.