Building web forms really, really sucks!
Years ago, my friend Yuri and I were working on a project for a large P&C insurance carrier. We had automated some business processes and were working on the online forms that people would use. The whole experience simply sucked. We’d worked for months, been through umpteen conference calls and no one was happy. Setting aside issues like the business users didn’t know what they wanted (true), the biggest problem was that we were mind-numbingly BORED. For developers used to a complex enterprise product, building electronic forms was beyond tedious. How many times can you tweak the border or the color or move a field a few pixels? Ugh!
Real business forms & workflows are hard.
In the aforementioned project, the forms were huge, complicated ACORD forms
with supplemental data. They needed to conform to the ACORD XML schema. One of the
single most painful schemas in existence. A developer has to worry about:
- Complex Validation (may be based on an XML schema or database)
- Business Rules (calculations, skip logic etc.)
- Electronic Signatures
- PDF Generation (gotta print the form exactly according to regulatory requirements – yeah, this is true even in 2014)
- Integration (databases, business systems, BPM etc.)
- Mobile (becoming more of a must-have every day)
- XML/XSD (many business systems and applications are XML-based)
- Sophisticated layouts
- IE8 to iOS 7 and everything in between
- the list goes on and on and on …
We looked for existing solutions but nothing came even close. If you want a contact form or a wedding invitation or a survey, there are a dozen great products but try to actually meet real business requirements like the above and forget it. Maybe if you want to shell out $100K for InfoPath or Adobe.
So, we engineered frevvo for all this stuff. It really does all the above and more. We’ve had a lot of fun doing it and it’s very satisfying when we see fellow-developers at our customers being spared from enduring the mental torture of hand-building
business web forms.
Save The Trees while you’re at it.
We don’t like waste. We especially hate wasted paper. And we love our trees. So, we figured we’d do our part. With over 350 customers all over the world printing fewer documents thanks to frevvo, we’re saving paper and trees every single day. Plus, going
green == more green for the bottom line:
- Fewer $, €, ¥, ₹, ₩, B$ spent on supplies (we get i18n)
- Increased productivity (I know I type 5 times as fast as I can write) and fewer errors
- Speed (get your vacation approved instantly).
At the end of the day though, for us, it’s about developers so let me reiterate. If you make developers build complex business forms by hand, you’re inflicting untold pain and suffering on them. Trust me – you’ll save money and end up with happier, more productive programmers using frevvo or even a competing product. Though, of course, we think they’ll be happiest with frevvo!