Acrobat-based PDF files are generated with Distiller 7 and are PostScript-based. They can include various elements, but are designed to maintain the layout of the original document. PDF files created through Distiller originate from a source application and are typically more focused on maintaining the original layout of the document than gathering data.
Designer-based PDF files are XML-based. They can include various elements but are designed to interact with a data gathering workflow. Although they can maintain the look and feel of a source document, most PDF files are initiated in Designer. Since these PDF files are focused on data collection, they are not image intensive and are laid out to acquire data effiiciently.
AcroForm.api is the plug-in Acrobat uses to create form fields. Designer has it own XFA toolset that is built into the application.
Adobe Technical Support can demonstrate the predefined functionality of fields within Designer. Support is able to explain the predefined functionality and define where additional functionality would be accessed. Support is also able to refer you to additional resources and tools found within the Help guide.
Many of the instructions in this document assume that the Standard tab is available on the Library palette. If you do not have the Standard tab available, then re-create it.