I didn’t know this either…

Yes, it actually works.  Just launch Microsoft Word, go to File > Open, and then open a PDF file.  When you do that, you’ll get a popup that says “converting…” and eventually, voilá!  An editable Word document, produced from a PDF!

You can also right-click on the PDF directly from the file explorer, select Open with…and then select Microsoft Word.

It’s like magic.

Here’s a video illustrating this.  In the example below, I launched the XForms Dashboard, navigated to the Forms screen, and then clicked on the PDF icon of a submitted form.  The PDF viewer launched, and then I downloaded that PDF to my desktop.  After download, I right-clicked on the new PDF file and selected Open with Microsoft Word.  The system then gave me the “converting…” alert popup for about 10 seconds, and then opened the converted file in Word.  Here you can see me editing different elements of that file, even table grids.


Why would you want to do this?

Some folks need to be able to produce a Word document from a digital system (like XForms), so that they can attach that Word output to another Word document they are working on.  Honestly, I didn’t know people were actually doing such a thing, but they are out there, as I have been approached by the need to produce Word output from XForms by several people over the past 12 months or so.

Not currently available as an output type in XForms

For the time being at least, direct MS Word output is not available in XForms, for the following reasons:

  • XForms already outputs to PDF, and you can open a PDF in Word if you need to edit it (as shown in the video above).  So we have a workaround. Yes, there may be some formatting issues, but they are mostly minor.
  • PDF output is more secure than MS Word output, meaning less chance that the data stored in XForms will eventually differ from the file output that was manipulated after download.
  • Only a handful of folks have inquired about this feature, and the potential opportunities (for now) are not very large.
  • If we decided to build this, other important development tasks would take a backseat to this request, meaning opportunity cost for limited developer resources and time.

Building software is a moving target, so decisions made today about something may be reversed later.  Money is also a good influencer 🙂 

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