Wednesday, December 7, 2011

The state of Orbeon Forms, Part 10.1

NOTE: Orbeon Forms 3.9 CE and PE were released in May 2011. This is a major release with lots of improvements. You might want to check what's new in that version first.

A lot has been going on since the last "The state of Orbeon Forms" post! This means that this new installment, covering improvements since Orbeon Forms 3.9, is in two parts. Here we focus on everything besides Form Builder and Form Runner:

  1. Security, performance and reliability
    • External XML DTDs. For security reasons, processing and loading of external DTDs when XML validation is turned off (which is in most cases) is disabled by default.
    • Better XForms error handling. Some runtime errors are now handled better and allow the XForms engine to continue processing. See also More resilient error handling in XForms.
    • Aggressive caching for all versioned resources. Until now, only JavaScript and CSS resources that were aggregated by the XForms server had aggressive caching settings. Now this is the case for any resources (typically JavaScript, CSS, images) that is versioned. This can lead to better performance if no further caching is implemented downstream (like by an Apache front-end).
  2. XForms engine and components
    • Native iPhone/iPad date and time widgets. This is pretty cool. See the blog post.
    • Input "placeholder". This causes either the label or the hint to appear on the background of the field when it is empty. The native HTML 5 implementation is used when possible. See the documentation.
    • New default button style. You know how buttons look different in every browser? We had a solution for this using the fr:button component based on YUI. Unfortunately this component uses JavaScript which causes some performance issues with older versions of IE. So we have now created a new CSS style for standard buttons which does not require Javascript. This is the default now for every standard button created with xforms:trigger. See also the documentation.
    • Improved autocomplete. The autocomplete control is now simpler for end-users  and easier for form authors. See Improved Autocomplete.
    • Improved xxf:valid() XPath function. This function has been updated to handle relevant nodes in the same way that xf:submission does. See the documentation.
    • New xxf:custom-mip() function. This function allows you to retrieve the value of a custom Model Item Property (MIP). See the documentation.
  3. XPL pipeline engine
    • Multiple XSLT outputs. You can now use xsl:result-document and the output: scheme in an XSLT transform placed in a pipeline. This allows an XSLT transform to produce multiple resulting documents for further processing in the pipeline.
  4. Architecture
    • Scala and CoffeeScript. Most of the new server-side code is now written in Scala (using 2.9.1) and most of the new client-side code is written in CoffeeScript.
    • Refactoring. Major refactoring of the XForms engine so-called static state has taken place to support dynamic XForms, a feature required for Form Builder "next". And more refactoring is on its way!
  5. On the side
    • XForms editorial meetings. Sub-groups in the XForms Working Group have met a few time to progress on XForms 2.0. In particular, we had a three-day meeting in Palo Alto, where good progress was made towards the XForms 2.0 spec.
This is for the important stuff, not counting numerous bug-fixes and other smaller improvements. If you are interested in the details, please follow the commits on github.

Part 2 will focus on Form Builder and Form Runner.


-The Orbeon Team

1 comment: