Using a PDF for your form

So I ran into a problem a few months ago, and I’ve been fighting with it ever since. Then a meteor fell out of the sky and hit me.

I have official government forms that I need to fill out for employees like W4s, and it’s important they look exactly right, but I couldn’t make a template using google docs that looked right, or even close to right, but I found a work around. You’ll need a Zapier account to make this work, but it’s pretty simple once you have that. Here’s how I did it

  1. Create a zapier zap, that is built to catch webhooks.

  2. Create a workflow that triggers a webhook, and point that webhook to the zap you created in step 1.

  3. Create a google slide.

  4. Make whatever PDF you want to use and image and set it to the size of the slide.

  5. Create text boxes laid on top of the PDF where appropriate and create a placeholder. For example in a last name category you I use {{Last Name}}. Note! Zapier uses {{}} to denote a placeholder so it knows you want to replace that field.

  6. Go back to your zapier zap and in the next “Do This” portion select google slides. You’ll need to Create Presentation From Template.

  7. Follow the instructions on Zapier, but when you get to template, just select the Slide deck you created in step 3.

  8. Create another do this, to either e-mail it or print it out, or whatever you want to do with it.

Since your using google slides, you should also be able to put in page numbers etc.

I think it’s sort of an elegant solution. I hope this helps a few of you.

13 Likes

@PocketSurvey I think doing it this way would allow you to get some of the page numbers and functionality you wanted.

This is really awesome. Thank you for sharing @School_Bus.
What will be the output? A PDF or a Google Slide?

It seems to be possible also with Integromat. Without the need of a webhook, but directly from the Google Sheet.

6 Likes

@School_Bus it’s a great solution since doing a Google Doc template that looks exactly as that government file is really hard. I was trying to figure the way to do that too.

@Fabian great way of solving it too with Integromat.

Thank you both for sharing.

3 Likes

The output is a google slide, but that’s better then nothing. I know with zapier I can do another leg that allows me to e-mail it to my printer too. I’ll check out integromat, haven’t used it before

Oh, I’m looking at integromat… there is a lot of capability there!

In my opinion, Integromat is way better than IFTTT or Zapier.

You could add another task at the end to convert the Google Slide into a PDF file.

7 Likes

Awesome trick @School_Bus. I think I’m gonna have to try this one out.

1 Like

@Fabian I see that you are doing it with google sheets, but I generally favor webhooks since it sends the data to include my virtual columns. A lot of times I use my virtual columns for logic or simple math, and I don’t store that in the google sheet. So having it send as a webhook is really beneficial. Just my technique.

2 Likes

maybe one of you can help me solve this. How would I insert a signature into the google slide? I see integromat allows adding images using a url, how would that be used to change the signature?

you could easily make this a pdf by just using a simple trick in the URLby just changing the last part of the url (after the file ID) to /export?format=pdf
There’s lots of tricks like this with simple changes to the URL actually

4 Likes

Here it says:


Tip: to pass images onto the template, you just need to create a text placeholder variable on your presentation template, then pass on a URL to a hosted image on your Zap template.

Have you tried this?

Or what would happen if you just put the Signature’s column name into the placeholder like {{Signature}} ? :thinking:

Thank you @Simon_Krismer for this trick.
I tried and it did not work. Found this helpful post that states: For Google Slides you have to use another text.

Share a direct download of a PDF version of your document
→ Google Docs & Sheets: Replace /edit with /export?format=pdf
→ Google Slides & Drawings: Replace /edit with /export/pdf

1 Like

@Fabian
Now I feel dumb for asking. I tried assigning a signature to the {{placeholder}} before, but with PDFfiller and it didn’t give me a signature. Now when I do with with slides I get the signature. This is going to make things a lot easier for me.

@Simon_Krismer and @Fabian is there a way to automatically change this? I’m not sure how to make this happen.

Do you mean to change the Google Slide URL with the /export/pdf ?
One way that comes in my mind is: When you create a new Google Slide with Integromat, I think you can get the File ID of the new created Slide. Then you could send a webhook to your AppSheet App, to update the row with the URL. A concatenate like this:
https://docs.google.com/presentation/d/ & <<File ID>> & /export/pdf

Great info. Not really suitable for my 100-page documents though!

Really, AppSheet (Google) should fix this issue with PDF headers/footers/page numbers. It’s a cop-out to say its too hard!

I am sure the Google developers who wrote the PDF processor for DOCs could easily do it.

Business reports need it.

I cannot roll out our app to 100s of users using Appsheet, and so am subscribing to other no-code platforms so I can roll out to business users, due to the lack of that feature.

1 Like

Wow, I’m really going to have to spend some time in integromat to figure it out.

1 Like

@Fabian and @Simon_Krismer let me know if you ever get that working with integromat because I’m just can’t seem to make it work, and I’d like to know how you all pulled it off.

To let you know what I tried
webhook -> Create Google Slide -> HTTP (Get File) -> Gmail

I get an e-mail, but then it requires a username password to access the google drive, and when I do that it tells me the link is blank. So I’m completely lost here

Really nice solution for forms. I have also used Jotforms in this situation. It creates forms directly from pdfs.

1 Like

after hours of bumping my head into a wall another meteor hit.

So this is how I used integromat to make it a PDF without having to spend money on a converter

  1. Create webhook to initiate scenario
  2. Google Slides -> Create
  3. Google Drive -> Download file
  4. In the download go to advanced settings.
  5. Select Convert Google Slides to Format -> PDF
  6. Now you can choose to upload it back to your drive, e-mail it or whatever.

That took way too long to figure out

2 Likes