Girlguiding consent forms: 3 myths busted!

If you are a Leader with Girlguiding, the chances are that you have heard at least one of these complaints, probably all of them.  Consent forms, while necessary, are often regarded as a pain in the mik’ta *.

A lot of people have trouble opening them.  It’s not just the technically incompetent, either.  Some people can open them on one computer but not another.  The complaints range from

“I can’t update to the latest version of adobe, I’m on a work computer and I don’t have admin rights.”

Which, alas, I can’t do anything about, to

“I have a Mac, so I can’t open them.”

Which is just wrong.

What’s the problem?

Girlguiding use forms with expandable boxes for Adobe PDF forms.  I believe the technical term is “dynamic XML”.

This means that you can fit in as much information as you need, but it also means that a lot of non-adobe “PDF readers” can’t cope.  If, as we do, you email out consent forms to parents and ask them to print and return, you will inevitably get a lot of complaints from parents.

3 myths debunked

1. I have a Mac, which means I can’t open the form.

Wrong.  I have a Mac, and I can do it just fine.  This problem arises when people use the mac Mail app’s “quick look” feature.  Quick look isn’t intelligent enough to cope, so people panic and assume there’s a problem with the file.  However, if you save the file and open it with Adobe Reader it works perfectly.

Screen Shot 2014-07-16 at 20.36.20

There are very clear instructions on the Girlguiding website (members area, under “Forms”).

2. I only have an iPad, which means I can’t open the form.

Same problem as the Mac – people see the quick look “please wait” message, and assume that they can’t do it at all.

For added fun, the “Adobe Reader” app can’t read the files.  That’s the point people usually give up.  I gave up for a long time, myself, but I recently discovered the solution, and I’m so excited that I just have to share it!

CloudOn LogoSolution:  Download “CloudOn“, a free app.  It connects to anything that supports the “Open in…” dialogue, including email, dropbox, and so on.  You can open, edit, and save Microsoft Office files as well as Adobe PDF forms.  Anything that you create or save can be uploaded to Dropbox or emailed directly from the app.

It’s a bit fiddly on the iPhone, because of the screen size, but I imagine it’s ok on an iPad.

Other apps may also be able to read the files, but once I found this one I stopped looking.  If you know of any others, please mention them in the comments.

3.  I only have an Android tablet, which means I can’t open the form.

Actually, I’ve never heard this one, but since I recently acquired a tablet that runs Android, I thought I’d test it out.  The answer turns out to be the same as for the iPad: the standard Adobe app can’t cope, but CloudOn can.


So there you have it!  Never again do you need to complain about struggling to open Girlguiding forms.  Tell all your friends, because they will love you for it!


* Stargate joke.  Sorry.


3 thoughts on “Girlguiding consent forms: 3 myths busted!

  1. Thanks Nicki, this is just what I needed! It works great on my android tablet and phone so now I can view and edit GG PDF forms and it also enables me to edit other things on my tablet that I couldn’t before, such as the GG accounts spreadsheet. A great tip for leaders and I’ll also mention it to the parents who complain about the consent forms too. Thank you.

  2. Thank you, very useful! I’ve had parents and leaders with Mac problems, but not knowing much about Macs, I’d just taken to sending out a scanned JPEG version of the form alongside the PDF.

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