Customized NCAA basketball tournament brackets in PDF
Web site contest creates on-the-fly brackets from personal tournament selections

19 March 2003

By Kurt Foss, Planet PDF Editor

Earlier this week in our Planet PDF Weblog we cited a number of Web sites that offer PDF versions of the bracket pairings for the soon-to-begin NCAA college basketball championship tournament. Each of the referenced sites provides a free-to-download, designed-for-printing document listing the various team matchups, well-suited for use in the traditional office betting pools that not coincidentally pop up around this time every year.

The PDF-based brackets we mentioned on Monday all require the user to fill out his or her winning choices the old-fashioned way -- on paper. That'll certainly suffice for this purpose, but serious users of Acrobat/PDF realize that the same document could quite easily have been developed to be completed online. In fact, we heard from one such disappointed person yesterday, who wrote:

"Have you seen any PDF brackets that are fillable? Even if some people don't have the full Acrobat package (gasp!), they can still type team names into the fields and print a nice-looking document rather than scrawl their selections into the tiny spaces."

Custom NCAA brackets in pdf

We replied noting that we've been rounding up NCAA brackets in PDF for many years now, and somewhat surprisingly have yet to discover a version that better utilized the capabilities of PDF Forms, even though that capability has now existed for several versions of Acrobat. But given the request, we decided to do a bit more searching to see if we might finally hit the jackpot in time for the 2003 tournament, with games beginning tomorrow.

After additional exploration, there's both good and bad news.

First, the bad: We didn't locate any sites offering electronically fillable PDF versions of the NCAA brackets.

Next, the good: We *did* find one site -- based in Lawrence, Kansas (but not affiliated with Kansas University sports) -- that is offering customized, PDF-on-the-fly versions as part of a contest it's hosting. Adrian Holovaty, lead developer at the Web site of the Lawrence Journal-World, used PHP's PDF Libraries to put together an "interactive bracket selector" that's available from the site. The 22-year-old Holovaty also reviews a number of other NCAA bracket interfaces on his own Weblog.

The contest/selector works like this (after you complete several required fields asking for personal information -- in case you win the contest): custom NCAA brackets in pdf Using a Web-based version of the bracket [shown at right], you simply click on the team of your choice for each game, in all four regions (16 teams in each). When you click a team's name, it is automatically advanced to the next bracket matchup. Continue until you have all games in all regions selected, with a winner in each of the four in order to complete the field for the Final Four championship round. The team names automatically jump to a separate bracket further down on the same Web page, where you choose semi-final round winners and then select your national champion team. Once you've completed that, 'Submit' your entries to enter the site's contest. On the next page will be a link to download a customized PDF [example shown below] showing all of your selections.

custom NCAA brackets in pdf

Only one entry per email address, the site states, so if you're serious about playing, pick them right the first time -- or all bets are off! Also, contest entries will no longer be accepted after the first games begin Thursday evening.


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