Creating Interactive PDFs - Need help

23 Jul 2010 - 11:26am
6 years ago
1 reply
1269 reads
Marty DeAngelo

I've written a usability report that I converted from Word to a PDF (based on limited tools I have to work with), but wanted to add some interactive elements in it -- namely the ability (1) to show larger images and (2) play embedded videos from a link.  Unfortunately, despite the limited tutorials I've found and Adobe's mediocre help content, I haven't been able to figure out how to do it, and was hoping someone else has done something like this.

I have several images that are readable but still would be better displayed at a larger size - so I want to create the 'lightbox' style method of a larger version of the image.  I imported the image as a layer, and have tried a myriad number of methods to:


  1. Have a link on the smaller image that shows the (previously hidden) layer
  2. Create a close button on the layer to make it disappear again.


I've tried simply having the layer shown/hidden, putting it on it's own bookmarked page and creating a destination that pointed to that page, but can't get any of these methods to work consistently or in some cases at all.

Similarly, I have some videos of the testing I want to display inline as opposed to having to open an external video player app (although THAT I can get to work - but it requires all of the files to be sent, the end user to have the right codec/player, etc.).  I want to:


  1. Have a thumbnail act as a link to the video
  2. Have the video appear and play in a lightbox-like display
  3. Be able to include a close button to stop the video and go back to the page
I was able to get it to work once, but when I opened the document up later, it no longer worked.  I was running into an issue that when I tried to import a video as a layer, the click area was the size of the video (~2/3 of the page), and actually sat over the original link I wanted to use as the trigger.  Not a big deal until you have three different videos on that same page.
So, long story short (too late), if anyone has advice or knows of a tutorial that can help, I'd greatly appreciate it.  I am using Adobe Acrobat Pro 9, and have had to import the images/videos as layers because MS Word doesn't allow 'layers'.  If I can get access to InDesign or I might consider reconverting from Word/PDF to InDesign > create layers > re-export to PDF if that seems like the smartest thing.  
Thanks in advance for the help!
Marty DeAngelo
Director, UX - Digitas Health



23 Jul 2010 - 2:33pm
Josh B Williams

For the images one work around might be to simply create multiple pages for it. It adds to the page count in your document but the flow might be more understandable when printed out.

Create page one with the normal state of the page. Create page two with the lightbox on the page. Then on page one use the link tool ( tools > advanced editing > link tool ) on your thumbnail to link to page 2. On page two use the link tool on the X button of the lightbox to link back to page one.

For the video I would use the same strategy. Have one page with a thumbnail of the video, and another page with an empty light box. Then use the video tool (tools > multimedia > video tool) and drag the blue box inside the edge of your graphic of the empty lightbox.

Then in the Video tool dialog box check Show Advanced Options. Select your video file, then for Enable When: choose The page containing the content is opened. For Disable When: choose The page containing the content is closed. This way your video will start playing when you click the thumbnail and get to the page, and stop when you hit the exit button to leave the page. For Playback Style: choose Play content on page. You probably don’t need a poster frame since your video starts automatically, unless you decide to make it play in the lightbox only after being clicked. For the controls tab All controls is probably fine, and I don’t think you need to change anything in the video tab either.


Hope that works for you, and have a good day!

-Josh Williams

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