port of PDF fdfgen library for filling in PDF forms to Python
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Python port of the PHP forge_fdf library by Sid Steward

PDF forms work with FDF data. I ported a PHP FDF library to Python a while back when I had to do this and released it as fdfgen. I use that to generate an fdf file with the data for the form, then use pdftk to push the fdf into a PDF form and generate the output.

The whole process works like this:

You (or a designer) design the PDF in Acrobat or whatever and mark the form fields and take note of the field names. This can be done either through Acrobat or by installing pdftk and entering the command line pdftk [pdf name] dump_data_fields. Let's say your form has fields "name" and "telephone".

Use fdfgen to create a FDF file:

from fdfgen import forge_fdf
fields = [('name','John Smith'),('telephone','555-1234')]
fdf = forge_fdf("",fields,[],[],[])
fdf_file = open("data.fdf","wb")

Then you run pdftk to merge and flatten:

pdftk form.pdf fill_form data.fdf output output.pdf flatten

and a filled out, flattened (meaning that there are no longer editable form fields) pdf will be in output.pdf.


  • 0.16.1 -- 2017-11-21 -- Fix TypeError in python 3.6 by Tom Grundy (@caver456)
  • 0.16.0 -- 2017-02-22 -- Allow for different values for each checkbox by bil.bagpuss@gmail.com
  • 0.15.0 -- 2016-09-23 -- Encode field names as UTF-16 fix by Andreas Pelme andreas@pelme.se
  • 0.14.0 -- 2016-08-09 -- Adobe FDF Compatibility added by Cooper Stimson (@6C1)
  • 0.13.0 -- 2016-04-22 -- python 3 bugfix from Julien Enselme julien.enselme@ioda.net
  • 0.12.1 -- 2015-11-01 -- handle alternative checkbox values fix from Bil Bas https://github.com/Spooner
  • 0.12.0 -- 2015-07-29 -- python 3 bugfixes
  • 0.11.0 -- 2013-12-07 -- python 3 port from Evan Fredericksen
  • 0.10.2 -- 2013-06-16 -- minor code refactor and added command line options from Robert Stewart https://github.com/rwjs
  • 0.10.1 -- 2013-04-22 -- unbalanced paren bugfix from Brandon Rhodes brandon@rhodesmill.org
  • 0.10.0 -- 2012-06-14 -- support checkbox fields and parenthesis in strings from Guangcong Luo zarelsl@gmail.com
  • 0.9.2 -- 2011-01-12 -- merged unicode fix from Sébastien Fievet zyegfryed@gmail.com


  • Create a virtual environment
  • tox is required to run the tests. You can install the correct version with pip install -r requirements-tests.txt
  • Run tox to run tests for all Python versions.
  • To run a specific test and specific Python versions, you may use tox -e py27 -- tests/test_encoding.py