Friday, September 26, 2014

Orbeon Forms 4.7

Today we released Orbeon Forms 4.7!

Major features and enhancements
  • Server-side embedding API. Orbeon Forms 4.7 introduces a new way to integrate forms within Java (and other Java Virtual Machine-based languages) applications: server-side embedding. (doc, blog)
  • Internal service requests. Orbeon Forms often needs to perform requests to itself, such as calling its own persistence layer implementations, as well as for internal page navigation. In previous versions, Orbeon Forms performed HTTP requests on itself. This could cause problems, such as using more servlet container threads, slower performance, and interference with servlet filters. Internal requests no longer use actual HTTP connections, which addresses these issues.
  • Improved Liferay proxy portlet support.
    • The proxy portlet uses a better and more configurable HTTP client to connect to Form Runner. In particular, this means that gzip compression can be supported between Form Runner and the portlet.  (doc)
    • The WAR file is much smaller than before (1.7 MB).
    • The portlet supports dynamic form selection from URL parameters. Note that this is disabled by default for security reasons. (doc)
  • Form Builder improvements.
    • Itemsets in actions support internationalization. (docblog)
    • You can control required values with formulas. (docblog)
  • Multiple remote servers. The Form Runner Home page supports multiple remote servers. You can, for example, configure a staging and a production server. (docblog)
  • Flat view support with DB2. Previously, the flat view was supported with Oracle only. It is now also supported with DB2. (doc)
  • Improvements to simple processes.
    • New set-data-status action. (doc)
    • New setvalue action. (doc)
    • Support XVT in success-message and error-message actions. (doc)
    • Ability to set and clear fields with the duplicate action. (doc)
    • Ability to send form metadata to a service. (doc)
  • New APIs.
    • Service API to duplicate form data. (doc)
    • Service API to list form data attachments. (doc)

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

Other new features and bug-fixes

Including the major features and enhancements above, we closed about 40 issues since Orbeon Forms 4.6.2 (and over 60 since 4.6).
Current browser support
  • Form Builder (creating forms):
    • Chrome 38 (latest stable version, plus the current dev channel)
    • Firefox 32 (latest  stable version, plus the current Firefox ESR)
    • IE 11
    • Safari 8
    • Additional support for Form Runner (accessing form):
      • IE 8, IE 9 and IE 10
      • Safari Mobile on iOS 6, iOS 7 and iOS 8
      • Chrome for Android (stable channel)
    Compatibility notes
    • Browser support
      • For end-users (when accessing forms, e.g. through Form Runner) – Support for IE7 was deprecated in Orbeon Forms 4.5, and isn't supported anymore started with Orbeon Forms 4.7.
      • For form authors (using Form Builder) – In Orbeon Forms 4.7, we used to support both IE10 and IE11; since in most cases IE10 auto-updates to IE11, the share of IE10 dropped very quickly after IE11 was released in October 2013. So, in Orbeon Forms 4.7, we decided to drop support for IE10. Going forward, for Form Builder, we plan to only support the latest release of IE.
    • Portlets. Support for loading portlet content asynchronously has been removed. This had been introduced to improve portlet loads with slower browsers such as IE 7, which is no longer supported.
    • Property deprecation. The property is deprecated and replaced with the new property.  If is set and not empty, it takes precedence over the new property, for backward compatibility.
    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!

      Monday, September 22, 2014

      Internationalization in actions used to populate selection controls

      When you create a form in Form Builder, if you have selection controls (dropdowns, checkboxes, radio buttons, lists, and the like), in most cases you know in advance what choices you want to offer your users. For instance, this is the case if you have a field allowing users to select a state, or marital status, or age bracket.

      But in other cases you don't want to hard-code the choices in the form; maybe you don't know ahead of time what the choices are, or they are likely to change, or you don't want to duplicate that list across several forms. In all those cases, you'll want to rely on a list returned by a service (a database query or a REST/web service).

      Starting with the upcoming 4.7 release, if your form is available in several languages, you can also define how the labels in those different languages is to be extracted from what is returned by the service. For more on this, see the documentation on internationalization in actions.

      Thursday, September 11, 2014

      Control required values with formulas in Orbeon Forms 4.7

      Up to Orbeon Forms 4.6, Form Builder only lets you determine whether a field is required or not once and for all, by saying "Yes" or "No.

      With the upcoming Orbeon Forms 4.7, you can also choose to use a formula, which means that the choice can be dynamic: for example, a field might be required only if another field is set to a specific value.

      As usual, you express the formula with an XPath expression, which gives you access to all of the form's data as well as the Orbeon Forms XPath function library.

      For more details, see the documentation.

      Wednesday, September 3, 2014

      Embedding support in Orbeon Forms 4.7

      So far there have been a couple of ways to integrate Orbeon Forms with existing applications:
      • Side by side: linking or posting data from other applications to Orbeon Forms pages, and linking or posting data from Orbeon Forms to other applications.
      • Embedded in a portal: using the full portlet or the proxy portlet within Liferay.
      Orbeon Forms 4.7 introduces a new way to integrate forms within Java (and other Java Virtual Machine-based languages) applications: server-side embedding.

      Your application simply includes a small JAR file, adds some configuration parameters, and then each page which needs to embed a form simply calls the API to tell which form to embed. You control where in your page the form must show, which means that your page can include your own header, footer, sidebars, and other content in addition to the form.

      A form embedded in a simple page with a top banner
      See the documentation for more details.