Tuesday, March 31, 2020

Orbeon Forms 2019.2.2 PE

Today we released Orbeon Forms 2019.2.2 PE!

This update to Orbeon Forms 2019.2 PE contains bug-fixes and is recommended for all Orbeon Forms 2019.2 PE and 2019.2.1 PE users.

For details, see the complete release notes.

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

We hope you enjoy this release!

Monday, March 9, 2020

Obtaining your data's status from JavaScript

We regularly add new APIs (application programming interfaces) to Orbeon Forms. Those fall into two categories:
  • server-side (exposed as Java or HTTP)
  • client-side (exposed as JavaScript)
The client-side API so far exposes functions as:
With Orbeon Forms 2019.2, we introduced a new JavaScript Form Runner API to indicate whether the form data is safe or not. We also call this information the data status.

By default, form data is considered safe if it's been saved to a database. This can also be controlled explicitly using the set-data-status action in a process.

If you have a custom client-side script that needs to interact with your form, knowing that the data is safe can be useful information. For example, this might allow you to allow the user to navigate away from the form or to close it.

This API consists of an easy function call. See the documentation for details.

We hope you will like this Orbeon Forms 2019.2 feature.

Monday, March 2, 2020

Orbeon Forms 2019.2.1 PE

Today we released Orbeon Forms 2019.2.1 PE!

This update to Orbeon Forms 2019.2 PE contains bug-fixes and is recommended for all Orbeon Forms 2019.2 PE users.

For details, see the complete release notes.

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

We hope you enjoy this release!

Thursday, February 27, 2020

The new Static and Dynamic Dropdowns

Until version 2018.2, Orbeon Forms shipped with 3 "dropdown" components:
  • A plain dropdown where the possible values were provided by the form author.
  • A plain dropdown where the values were loaded from a service.
  • An "autocomplete" that enabled users to type in the field to do a search, with Orbeon Forms sending what the user searched for to a service, and displayed the result.
Those components conflated the following characteristics:
  • Whether the possible values are entered statically by the form author, or loaded from a service.
  • Whether the control shows as a plain dropdown, or as a dropdown allowing users to type text to search for a value.
  • In this latter case, when users can type a search value and values are loaded from a service, whether the service returned all the values and the filtering is done by Orbeon Forms, or if the search term is sent to the service and it is the service that does the filtering.
Since version 2019.1, Orbeon Forms makes those characteristics orthogonal, allowing you as a form author to combine them in any way you want. Moreover, for services that perform the search, services can also implement paging, in cases where the list of possible values can be very large, even when filtered by something the user has typed. All the possible combinations are summarized in the following diagram:
For more, see the documentation on the static and dynamic dropdown, and we'll hope you will find this new feature useful.

Monday, February 17, 2020

Importing date and time fields from Excel files

The Excel import feature now supports importing date and time formats. Excel cells that contain values formatted as date/time, date, or time in the Excel spreadsheet are automatically converted to their respective ISO formats before being stored as form data. This makes them available in your form for viewing, editing, and calculations.

This might sound like an obvious feature, but it turns out that reading the Excel format can be tricky, as Excel doesn't have native date/time data types. Those are stored as floating-point numbers, and only by looking at (and sometimes guessing from) the formatting style for a cell can you really tell that its value contains a date/time. Then the value must be extracted and converted and luckily, there is an algorithm for that. (Oh, and did you know that you cannot represent dates before 1900 in Excel?)
Excel represents many data types using floating-point numbers
In order to implement this enhancement, we had to do quite a bit of research online and in the source code of Apache POI, an open-source library that does a lot of the right things. While we are not using POI directly, we used some of the code and adapted it to our needs.

We hope you will like this feature, which is present in Orbeon Forms 2019.2. See also the documentation.

Monday, February 3, 2020

Showing all lease messages inline, for consistency

In Orbeon Forms 2017.2 we introduced the lease feature, which is useful in cases where you need to have multiple users edit the same form data, and want to ensure that only one user does so at a given time, this to avoid any risk of conflicts with concurrent edits.

We would not want users to be able to lock form data forever, so Orbeon Forms only grants users the right to edit form data for a given, configurable, period of time. Hence the need, when this feature is enabled, to inform users:
  • When editing the document: of how much time left they have left, with an option to voluntarily relinquish the lease, and if the lease is about to expire, if they want to continue to edit the document, thus extending the lease.
  • If the lease has expired: that they lost the lease, with an option to request it, in case nobody acquired the lease in the meantime.
  • If another user has the lease: that they can't edit the document, and who that other user is.

Previously, some of those messages were shown inline, in an area at the top of the form, while others were shown in dialogs. Since Orbeon Forms 2019.2, all the messages are shown inline for greater consistency.

Thursday, January 30, 2020

Orbeon Forms 2019.1.1 PE

Today we released Orbeon Forms 2019.1.1 PE!

This update to Orbeon Forms 2019.1 PE contains bug-fixes and is recommended for all Orbeon Forms 2019.1 PE users.

For details, see the complete release notes.

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

We hope you enjoy this release!