Dynamic data calculation and interaction forms

In 2024, forms created with Acrobat, FileMaker, Excel, or Sheets can all use PHP to enable real-time 2-way data interactions with SQL databases or REST APIs. These types of forms have native calculation and communications functions that can package and send user-supplied query parameters to PHP scripts.

Depending on the parameters, the script can look-up information, or execute Create-Read-Update-Delete transactions, or assemble KPI results, or interact with reference or messaging APIs, and then filter and return query responses to designated form fields as either single values or as JSON, PHP, or XML arrays.

Small, precise exchanges, triggered as users enter data or make selections, executing queries, processing results, and updating form values in real-time.

Each form type provides additional functions, capabilities, and advantages. Any form can interact with any mixture of databases or APIs in any sequence.

Improve efficiency, reduce costs, eliminate errors. Quickly.


Adobe Acrobat PDF forms are ideal as data input, selection, interaction runtimes. PDF forms can calculate, format, and post query parameters to PHP scripts that execute queries on SQL databases or REST APIs and return filtered query results back to form fields in real-time. More secure than HTML forms, Acrobat PDF forms are not susceptible to XSS, CSRF, or session attacks, and can be password protected, encrypted, flattened, or digitally signed.

Claris FileMaker

FileMaker forms can calculate and execute queries that use PHP, PDO, and cURL to interact with SQL databases and REST APIs. FileMaker provides an extremely advanced multi-user data processing environment, ideal for building bespoke programmable controls and proprietary processing interfaces that can be securely shared via Apple or Windows desktop application, WebDirect web browser or mobile forms, or the FileMaker Data API.

Excel & Sheets

Microsoft Excel and Google Sheets spreadsheets can also use calculations and native functions to execute PHP scripts that interact with SQL databases or REST APIs. PHP scripts can filter real-time scalar or aggregate query responses back to active cells in a variety of formats. For instance, Excel dynamic arrays are generated from XML-formatted results while Sheets dynamic arrays are generated from HTML-formatted results.


PHP is the most popular server technology in the world. PHP Data Objects and cURL code libraries provide securable, injection-resistant methods to interact with SQL databases or REST APIs. PHP is also open-source, so no licensing costs, transaction fees, or subscriptions are required to own and use industrial strength code. Also, no third-party PaaS or SaaS connection fees, functionality limitations, security concessions, or service dependencies.


The PHP Data Objects (PDO) extension defines a lightweight and consistent interface for accessing SQL databases. PDO provides a data-access abstraction layer, designed so regardless of database type, you can use the same functions to execute queries and fetch results with minimal code modification because database drivers that implement the PDO interface expose database-specific features as regular extension functions.


PHP incorporates libcurl, an advanced cURL code library that provides extremely versatile connection and communication methods for REST APIs (and a lot of other things) using a variety of protocols. The libcurl library supports the http, https, ftp, gopher, telnet, dict, file, and ldap protocols, and also additionally supports HTTPS certificates, HTTP POST, HTTP PUT, FTP file uploads, HTTP form-based file uploads, proxies, cookies, and user authentication.

PDO can interact with lots of different databases

cURL can interact with practically any API

Depending on the document type, you can...

return real-time
SQL or REST API query results to spreadsheet calculations...

share calculating web forms that merge data from distributed and disparate sources...

execute key performance indicator or complex aggregate queries in real time...

add dynamic
SQL CRUD or REST API functionality to Acrobat forms...

deploy really, really, really well connected desktop and mobile workgroup apps

minimal code

minimal expense

minimal dependencies

“Extraordinarily efficient, stunningly cost-effective.”

“Simplified, with added lightness.”

“That is way less complicated. Thanks."

Desktop, web, or mobile interfaces, simple deployment, minimized dependencies, integrating technologies to build simple or complex data automation solutions.

Take a look at the examples at the top of the page and e-mail with any questions. Thanks!