Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Orbeon Forms 2016.2

Today we released Orbeon Forms 2016.2! This release features several important features and enhancements.

Major features and enhancements

New indexes for relational database performance

If you're using a relational database and rely on summary pages or the search API, this change will drastically improve the performance of those operations. If you're using a relational database and are upgrading to Orbeon Forms 2016.2, you should pay particular attention to this change, as it requires that you run a new reindexing operation as part of the upgrade procedure, and thus we recommend you proceed with the upgrade with special care, and make sure to read:

Form Options in Form Builder

Form Builder's Form Settings dialog now features a new Form Options tab, with the following options:
  • Whether the form is a singleton form. This option existed in previous versions under General Settings. (doc)
  • Whether the form uses the Wizard View. By default, the published form uses the configuration set via properties. (doc)
  • Appearance of control labels and control hints. The main use is to specify that text input fields hints appear as inline placeholders. By default, the published form uses the configuration set via properties. (doc)
Form Options

We expect that further form options will be added in the future.

Ability to send binary PDF to services

This feature has been requested often, and we are happy to include it in Orbeon Forms 2016.2! You can now specify that your submit or send action (or in fact any process) sends the form in PDF format to an HTTP endpoint. The same goes for sending a TIFF binary. For details, see the blog post and documentation.

Versioning comments

When using versioning, you can now add or update a textual comment associated with the given For details, see the documentation.

Versioning Comments

Form Runner function library

Form Runner now exposes a documented function library with easy to use functions. As of Orbeon Forms 2016.2, the library contains 28 functions, and we plan to add more in the future. For more details, see the blog post and documentation.

Accessibility / HTML layout

We have changed the layout of grids to no longer use HTML tables when possible. In addition, we have also removed the use of HTML tables in the error summary component. For more details, see the blog post and  documentation on the new HTML layout of grids.

Wizard enhancements

The wizard view features several enhancements:
  • We introduce a new option to show a separate table of contents instead of always showing it to the left of the content.
  • You can enable subsection navigation, which shows one nested subsection at a time instead of showing all subsections together.
  • The wizard now shows improved status options for each section.
Wizard Status

Buttons visibility

You can now control the visibility of buttons, and whether they appear disabled or not, using XPath expressions. For more details, see the documentation.

Other features and enhancements

Form Runner

  • Repeated grid/section: option to always insert at end (#2747)
  • Form Metadata API returns latest updated version instead of latest version (#2780)
  • Form Metadata API: option to return all non-deleted form versions (#2781)
  • Flat view support for SQL Server (#2790)
  • Proxy portlet: property to disable namespace mapping (#2764)

XForms engine

  • Ability to configure a custom function library (#2812)
  • XPath: support let expressions (#2816)
  • Internal changes to remove an old Java dependency on DOM4J. This will also be useful for our progress towards native/offline clients.

Other platform enhancements

  • XML processor to convert XML to JSON (#2796)
  • Ability for services to receive JSON (#2793)

Other new features and bug-fixes

Including the major features and enhancements above, we closed over 70 issues since Orbeon Forms 2016.1.

Internationalization

See Localizing Orbeon Forms for the latest localization support. Localization depends on volunteers, so please let us know if you want to help!

Browser support

  • Form Builder (creating forms)
    • Chrome 52 (latest stable version)
    • Firefox 48 (latest stable version) and the current Firefox ESR
    • IE 11 or Edge
    • Safari 8 or 9
  • Form Runner (accessing form)
    • All browsers supported by Form Builder (see above)
    • IE8, IE9 and IE10
    • Safari Mobile on iOS 7, iOS 8 and iOS 9
    • Chrome for Android (stable channel)

Compatibility notes

Persistence layer

The relational database schema contains changes in this version. Please refer to the notes at the beginning of this post on "New indexes for relational database performance".

Deprecations and removals

  • The oxf:from-xls-converter processor is deprecated and will be removed in a subsequent release.
  • The deprecated XMLDB processors are removed.
  • The oxf.fr.detail.hints.inline property is deprecated. Use oxf.fr.detail.hint.appearance instead. (doc)
  • xforms-disable-hint-as-tooltip is deprecated. Use oxf.fr.detail.hint.appearance instead. (doc)

Download and feedback

You can download the latest version of Orbeon Forms from the downloads page.

Don't forget to grab a trial license for the PE version.

Please send feedback:
We hope you enjoy this release!

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Submitting a PDF file to an external service

PDF icon by Double-J Design
In addition to saving data to a database, Orbeon Forms can submit (or send) data to external services. If you just want to send the captured data as XML, it is very easy:
  1. Add the built-in "Send" or "Submit" button
  2. Configure the URL of the service
  3. Done!
Sometimes, you want to do more, and you can configure the details through what Orbeon Forms calls simple processes. These define a series of steps to perform in response to the user activating a button, including error recovery. You can, for example, specify that a "Submit" button must:
  1. Check that the data is valid.
  2. Save it to the local database.
  3. Email it to the user's email address.
  4. Send it to a workflow service via HTTP.
Until recently, though, it wasn't easily possible to send the form exported as a binary PDF to an external service. Orbeon Forms has a couple of options for PDF production, and there was a way to send a callback URL for the PDF to a service, but that was difficult to setup.

Orbeon Forms 2016.2 fixes this and includes a way to directly send the PDF to a service. So now you can, for example, write a "Submit" process which sends the XML data and the PDF to one or multiple HTTP services. You do this by passing the new pdf token to the built-in send action. (Similarly, you can now send a binary TIFF document with the new tiff token.)

We hope you will like this simple but hopefully useful new feature!

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

A stable function library for Form Runner

When using formulas or custom components with Orbeon Forms, there is often a need to access information about the current form, such as:
  • What is the current form name?
  • If this component currently running at design-time in Form Builder?
  • Is the form in read-only mode?
  • Is the form data currently valid?
  • Is the last page of the wizard currently visible?
In the past, some of these scenarios were possible by writing XPath expressions which usually accessed the internals of Form Runner. For example the following would return the current form name:
xxf:instance('fr-parameters-instance')/form/string()
Other scenarios were not even reasonably possible. Now, instead, Orbeon Forms exposes a documented Form Runner function library with easy to use functions. You now write the above simply:
fr:form-name()
You can use this function without worrying that it might go away or stop working due to a change in the Form Runner internals, and it is properly documented, alongside the other 27 Form Runner functions we are introducing for Orbeon Forms 2016.2. We plan to add more as we go, with 2 further functions already documented for 2016.3.

We hope you enjoy this feature, which will be available in the upcoming Orbeon Forms 2016.2.