You know when you get a form to fill out, but you need to print it and fill out by hand (or worse, try to fill it with your printer). Wouldn’t you rather be able to generate a PDF form out of it and then fill it out on your computer? Even better, have the form filled out automatically (as far as possible) with your usual data?

Well, I decided that’s something I wanted to do. In this particular case, I gave cash to two friends and wanted them to sign an IOU note. I found a PDF form online, but it required me to fill out their and my names twice and I balked at the duplication. (You can find the form by searching for “free iou form template”.)

The tools you will need to use (at this point) are commonly available for free. They are all open source tools, so there is a good chance they will be available years from now. In particular, we’ll need Scribus, a desktop publishing tool, pdftk, a PDF manipulation utility, and a few extra scripts and utilities.