Sunday, December 7, 2008

The state of Orbeon Forms, Part 1


For those of you who don't yet follow our updates on Twitter, here is a summary of some of the new developments since our last post:

1. Form Builder and Form Runner

Work on Form Builder and Form Runner is ongoing. We have added important features:

  • Support for custom components in the toolbox, which allows for supporting small components like phone numbers or reusing entire form sections.

  • Options to control form submission in Form Runner (directly saving into a database, taking you to a confirmation page, showing a confirmation dialog, etc.).

  • Support for sending emails with XML and/or PDF attachments.

At this point we don't plan to add any new major feature for Form Builder version 1.0. We are working on a couple of deployments, which means that we are concentrating on bug-fixes and performance.

We have lots of ideas for Form Builder past version 1.0. Feel free to send your suggestions to the ops-users mailing-list, and keep in mind the various ways features get into Orbeon Forms.

2. XForms engine features and bug-fixes

Our focus has been on Form Builder and Form Runner, but we have also worked hard on the XForms engine, including:

  • Improvements to the XBL-based component system, which is getting more solid.

  • New extension XPath functions, including xxforms:is-user-in-role(), xxforms:get-remote-user(), xxforms:invalid-binds(), xxforms:encode-iso9075-14(), xxforms:decode-iso9075-14(), xxforms:doc-base64().

  • Localized date picker (English, French, Spanish).

  • Split the good old properties.xml file into several files, including properties-local.xml which facilitates upgrades.

  • Label, help, hint, alert for a control can be located anywhere on a page with the @for attribute.

  • Upgraded YUI to version 2.6.0 and integrated the YUI Rich Text Editor (RTE).

  • Added support for the xforms:email and other XForms 1.1 datatypes.

Check out the latest change list to get an idea of how much has happened in the XForms engine since version 3.6.

3. When is the next release of Orbeon Forms coming out?

As always the answer is "when it is ready", but we understand this is not enough for our users! The immediate plan is to release a second beta of 3.7 if not in December, then in January. Hopefully that can be the last beta before a 3.7 release candidate.

Nightly builds are quite stable now as we use them on various deployments. We don't know yet if the next release of Orbeon Forms will coincide with Form Builder version 1.0. That certainly would be nice, provided it happens soon!

That's it for this time. Enjoy!

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