There are three main activities involved in using Forms Experience Builder:
- Building forms
- Publishing applications
- Reviewing submissions
Forms and Applications
Before describing each of the three activities, the words "form"
must be described. Throughout the Forms Experience Builder documentation, the words "form"
are both used to describe the output created by Forms Experience Builder. Forms are a single page, or collection of pages, that create the user interface with which people interact. When a form is combined with workflow, presentation logic and other elements of the Forms Experience Builder technology, it becomes an application. Applications gather the submitted input and automatically store the submissions in a database.
When you start Forms Experience Builder, you are shown a screen with two tabs on the top toolbar: Use and Manage. The Use
tab shows a list of all applications created by other users to which you have access. The Manage
tab is where you create and manage applications. When Forms Experience Builder opens, you are shown the Use tab, even if there are no applications available.
To create an application, select the Manage
tab. Click New Application
, enter a descriptive application name, and select Create
. A blank form is displayed.
Drag items from the Palette and drop them onto the form. As you add items, you can change the default name of each item directly on the form.
A built-in grid automatically aligns items on the form, and expands when you add additional items on the form. The default layout is two columns and two rows. However, you have an extraordinary amount of flexibility when building your form. You can stretch one form item to span across all columns, and you can add and delete columns and rows as needed.
Some form items must be edited by opening the Edit Properties
window. For example, in the survey form shown, you can add the survey questions on the form, but the question titles can be edited only in the Edit Properties window.
When you click the Edit Properties icon for any form item, the Edit properties window opens. There are many tabs within the Edit Properties window where you can set various functions. For example:
- Basic tab: Edit basic properties such as whether the title of a form item appears on the form. The properties displayed in the Basic tab vary based on the form item.
- Advanced tab: Additional form item properties, such as web services are in the Advanced tab.
- Rule tab: Create rules such as showing or hiding form items based on user input.
- Event tab: Define an event that happens based on user input, such as when the user selects a particular option.
Adding workflow elements to a form
There are many cases where adding separate steps and restricting user access to part of a form makes the form more useful. For example, you can create a vacation request form that requires the approval of a supervisor, or an award nomination form that requires the approval of both a supervisor and a nomination committee. In the survey form example, the results from the survey are useful feedback, but by adding workflow elements, the curriculum supervisor can review comments before sending them to the instructor as feedback. Adding workflow elements is done with Roles and Stages.
Adding or editing Roles is done in the Access
tab, while adding stages is done in the Stages
– You can create various roles with different levels of e access to different information within an application. For example, you can specify that only an administrator can change an application, managers can review submitted data, and users can complete and submit the form. After roles are defined, you can assign users to the roles. Each role can have as many or as few people assigned to it as needed. You can even assign groups to a role. For example, all supervisors are assigned to one role, and all managers are assigned to another role.
In the Access
tab, each role can either be Open or Closed. If you have a web service which pre-populates the role information, select Open
. For example, you want to use a web service to scan the company email directory and automatically populate the name of the manager. If you do not plan to use web services in your application, leave the role Closed
. The user must enter the name of the manager manually when they complete the form.
– Stages are the steps a form goes through in its lifecycle. For example, in one stage the user submits data. In the next stage, the manager reviews and approves or rejects the submitted data. An application can have as many stages as needed. Stages are also useful as they allow a submitter to save a draft version of the form. For example, on a census form that has multiple pages, the submitter might not have time to complete the whole form in one session. With the draft button, the user can complete part of the census, save a draft, then return to complete the census at a later time. A stage can hide or display information that is necessary for one user, but not required for another. For example, in our survey form, the curriculum supervisor needs to see the name of who submitted the feedback. However, to allow for anonymous feedback, the user's name is hidden when the feedback is forwarded from the curriculum supervisor to the course instructor.
By default, every form has a Start and End stage. The Start
stage is the first stage of every form. When the form moves from the Start stage, it cannot return. End
is final stage of every form. When a form moves to the End stage, its lifecycle is complete. The form cannot be submitted again and cannot be transitioned to another stage.
To create a workflow, add stages between the Start and End stages in the Stages tab.
When a new stage is added, you can modify its properties to build the form workflow as needed. For example, you can add a stage to a survey that thanks the user for submitting feedback and sends the curriculum supervisor an email indicating that new feedback is available. After the feedback is reviewed by the supervisor, another stage can be added to block the user's name and company information and then forward the feedback to the course instructor.
At any time during the form building process, you can save and preview your work in a web browser by clicking the Preview button.
Ensure that your browser does not block pop-up windows, as the preview form opens in a new window.
buttons are automatically added to your form, and are displayed when you preview the form.
Publishing your application
When you have completed building your form and adding workflow elements, you must publish your application to make it available to users. Publishing applications is done in the Manage
To publish your application, click Deploy
. A menu of deployment options is available. You can set your application to have a specific start and end date, and provide a custom message to instruct users when the application is unavailable.
After an application is deployed, you can provide the URL link to your users.
You can also get the URL to the application by clicking Launch
and copying the address in the web browser. If you need to change a form after it is deployed, you can do so at any time. However, you must deploy the form again after completing your changes.
Reviewing submitted responses
When users access the application and submit results, the form author, administrator, or other roles with appropriate access can view the submitted results. In the Manage
tab, each application has a View Responses
link. When the View Responses link is clicked, all submitted responses are displayed.
The View Responses screen displays all submitted responses on the left side of the screen. You can sort the submitted results by clicking any of the column titles, such as "ID"
, or "Date of course"
. Selecting a response displays the submitted data on the right side of the screen.
Forms that have additional stages have additional buttons in the View Responses screen. For example, the curriculum supervisor has a button to accept the feedback, which forwards the feedback to the course instructor. In another example, such as a vacation request form, the manager can either accept or reject the vacation request. If the manager accepts the request, the request is forwarded to Human Resources to log against the available vacation days. In all cases, an email containing the decision of the supervisor is sent to the employee.
If the submitted data does not fit completely on the right side of the screen, a scroll bar is provided to view the complete record. By clicking the Edit Properties icon, you can set the submitted results to open in a new browser window, rather than on the right side of the screen. You also can export all data to a spreadsheet program, such as IBM
™, or Microsoft
This overview described the three high-level steps for creating Forms Experience Builder applications: building the form and adding workflow elements, publishing your completed application, and reviewing the submission results. For additional Forms Experience Builder information, see:
Parent topic: Overview