I need to populate XFA form fields in a PDF (created with Adobe LiveCycle Designer). We're attempting to use iText (actually iTextSharp with C#) to parse the PDF, populate the XFA fields and then save the modified PDF back out.

All the examples I can find with iText (very few iTextSharp examples) talk about modifying AcroForm fields. This PDF does NOT have AcroForm fields and uses XFA only.

Pointers to any non-standard resources would be helpful (I've already done the requisite Googling on the topic and haven't found anything useful).

Code examples here would be awesome from anyone who has actually done what I'm trying to do.

Was it helpful?


If you can get a data packet into the PDF, the XFA runtime in Acrobat would populate those fields with the data in the data packet.

If you want to see what one of these looks like, create a form in LiveCycle Designer (comes with Acrobat Pro), add some fields to it, and save it as a dynamic PDF. Open the form in Acrobat and type some values into the fields and save it.

Open the PDF with a tool that lets you peer at the PDF data and you'll find /Catalog/AcroForm/XFA a stream that has an <xfa:datasets> packet with the values you typed. That's what you'll need to create yourself and insert into the PDF.

The XDP spec includes a description of the data packet and the merge algorithm. You can find it here:

Alternately, you buy the LiveCycle server from Adobe which lets you do all this programmatically in a number of ways including through web service calls.


iTextSharp can work with XFA. To remove all doubts, please take a look at sample on iText website:

using (FileStream existingPdf = new FileStream("existing.pdf", FileMode.Open))
using (FileStream sourceXml = new FileStream("source.xml", FileMode.Open))
using (FileStream newPdf = new FileStream("new.pdf", FileMode.Create))
    // Open existing PDF  
    PdfReader pdfReader = new PdfReader(existingPdf);

    // PdfStamper, which will create  
    PdfStamper stamper = new PdfStamper(pdfReader, newPdf);


I have the same issue and I think I found the solution. I am using Powershell to inspect the pdf object.

Load the iTextSharp DLL.

Add-Type -Path "C:\Users\micah\Desktop\itextsharp.dll"

Load the PDF into a variable:

$PDF = New-Object iTextSharp.text.pdf.pdfreader -ArgumentList "C:\Users\micah\Desktop\test.pdf"

Inspect this object:

$PDF.AcroFields.XFA.DomDocument.XDP.DataSets.Data.TopMostSubForm | Get-Member

What you SHOULD see, is that all your fields on your PDF are in this object as a property. You can get a quick view of all your fields like this:

$PDF.AcroFields.XFA.DomDocument.XDP.DataSets.Data.TopMostSubForm | Select-Object -Property "*"

That should be the magic ticket. This location is both fields from the original form AND the XFA portion of the form.

It says that in the book because itext does not do this. Can you convert your PDF?

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