Forms Data Format (FDF) is a format for handling forms within PDF documents. You should read the documentation at http://partners.adobe.com/asn/developer/acrosdk/forms.html for more information on what FDF is and how it is used in general.
Note: If you run into problems configuring php with fdftk support, check whether the header file FdfTk.h and the library libFdfTk.so are at the right place. They should be in fdftk-dir/include and fdftk-dir/lib. This will not be the case if you just unpack the FdfTk distribution.
The general idea of FDF is similar to HTML forms. The diffence is basically the format how data is transmitted to the server when the submit button is pressed (this is actually the Form Data Format) and the format of the form itself (which is the Portable Document Format, PDF). Processing the FDF data is one of the features provided by the fdf functions. But there is more. One may as well take an existing PDF form and populated the input fields with data without modifying the form itself. In such a case one would create a FDF document (fdf_create()) set the values of each input field (fdf_set_value()) and associate it with a PDF form (fdf_set_file()). Finally it has to be sent to the browser with MimeType application/vnd.fdf. The Acrobat reader plugin of your browser recognizes the MimeType, reads the associated PDF form and fills in the data from the FDF document.
If you look at an FDF-document with a text editor you will find a catalogue object with the name FDF. Such an object may contain a number of entries like Fields, F, Status etc.. The most commonly used entries are Fields whicht points to a list of input fields, and F which contains the filename of the PDF-document this data belongs to. Those entries are referred to in the FDF documention as /F-Key or /Status-Key. Modifying this entries is done by functions like fdf_set_file() and fdf_set_status(). Fields are modified with fdf_set_value(), fdf_set_opt() etc..
The following examples shows just the evaluation of form data.
Example 1. Evaluating a FDF document