V7.3 – SharePoint + other features …

We’re excited to announce that V7.3 is now available for Cloud customers. The on-premise version will be released approximately at the end of September. This release contains significant enhancements:

SharePoint Connector V1

sharepoint-workflow.pngYou can drag & drop using our intuitive browser-based form & workflow designers to create powerful business forms and approval workflows with all of frevvo’s advanced capabilities. Upgrade [not just replace] your InfoPath forms with frevvo’s advanced forms and workflows. Use point-and-click wizards to save your documents to a SharePoint library or to write data to a SharePoint list. It’s easy to try out online. Check out the short video demo of SharePoint workflows on our website.

Guided Tours and Page Help

guided-tour.pngIt’s easier than ever to try out a frevvo workflow. Simply sign up for a free 30-day trial account and you’ll be guided through installing a workflow template, trying it out and editing the workflow to make a simple change. Guided tours are also available for any workflow template. Context-sensitive help is available for many screens in the frevvo application. So, give it a whirl – it’s easy and takes just a few minutes.

Tons of Customer-requested fixes & enhancements

In addition, we’ve added many smaller new features. You can Test changes to a form or workflow without exiting the designer. It’s small but we’re thrilled about it – incredibly useful when you’re actually designing flows and want to test out a business rule change.

Step preconditions can be created visually using a wizard similar to the Visual Rule Builder, message controls limitations have been eliminated, the ComboBox control now connects directly to web services without the need for a JavaScript rule, and many other changes. You can read all about them in the Detailed Release Notes.

Interested in learning more. Sign up for a free trial on our website and try it out.

V7.3 – Dynamic pick lists & web services

One of the most common features our customers use is dynamic pick lists (or radio/checkbox controls). Examples abound such as a List of products for a Sales Order / PO, Number of available vacation days for a Leave Approval, List of projects for a Time Sheet and many others. With frevvo, you could always setup dynamic options using a business rule written in JavaScript.

/*member productCode, productName, resultSet*/
var x;
if (form.load) {
eval(‘x=’ + http.get(‘http://localhost:18080/database/BIRT/allProducts’));
var opts = [];
for (var i=0; i < x.resultSet.length; i++) {
if (x.resultSet[i]) {
opts[i] = x.resultSet[i].productCode + ‘=’ + x.resultSet[i].productName;
}
}
Products.options = opts;
}

V7.3 – no JavaScript

Products-WS

Selection Control connected to a web service

Starting with V7.3 (late August 2017), you can select an Options Source in the Properties pane for the selection control (drop down, radio or checkbox). By default, the Source is Design Time which simply means the choices are static and the designer specifies the list of options by typing them in at design time. But, you can now select Web Service. If you do that, three additional properties appear below:

 

  • Options URL: This is the end point for the web service. If you’re using the database connector,  it’ll be the same as the URL used in the JavaScript rule above. The assumption is that this call returns either XML or JSON.
  • Value binding: the path in the returned XML or JSON that determines the value of the select control (what’s in the submission).
  • Label binding: the path in the returned XML or JSON that determines the label of the select control (what the user sees).

That’s it. The URL can also be dynamic.

Edmunds

Selection control connected to the Edmunds API

For example, the screenshot at left shows a checkbox control that’s connected to the Edmunds API. The Options URL depends on the Year since that web service API returns Car Makes for a particular year. The URL is set to:

https://api.edmunds.com/api/vehicle/v2/makes?state=new&year={Year}&view=basic&fmt=json&api_key=<key hidden>

When the user types something in Year, the web service is automatically called, the results are refreshed and the choices in the Car Makes checkbox will change based on whatever the web service returned.

V7.3 will be released at the end of August. Visit our website and sign up for a free 30-day trial if you’d like to learn more or contact us for more information.

80% of all IT budgets will be committed to cloud apps and solutions

More than 80% of the organizations surveyed in this recently published report (25 pp., PDF, opt-in) are now following a Cloud First strategy. They prefer to purchase applications as a service deployed in the Cloud over applications deployed on physical servers in their data center.

Those with a Cloud First strategy believe that their IT budgets will be 80% cloud services in less than 12 months, while those without such a strategy think it will be closer to 20 months with 15 months being the average. That’s remarkable [at least to me]. Clearly, trust and confidence in the Cloud has grown quickly.

IT80percent

Cloud First is the reality. Most organizations want to migrate quickly to the Cloud. Source: Building Trust in a Cloudy Sky (see link above).

At frevvo, that’s very much in line with what we see. Customers mostly prefer our public cloud – even very large organizations. They’re less concerned about security and availability and more interested in practical issues like cost. That’s likely because incidents have decreased.

We also offer both Public and Private cloud. We’ve noticed too that customers increasingly perceive the benefits of public cloud surpassing private cloud, especially when it comes to cost. The TCO for Public Cloud is almost universally perceived as being hugely lower – sometimes to the point that customers expect public cloud services to be incredibly inexpensive.

PublicCloudBenefits

To us, it’s still a surprising number. 80% of the IT budget going to Cloud computing in just over 1 year. Clearly Cloud Computing has matured and is being adopted broadly.

Learn more about frevvo’s solutions by visiting our website where you’ll find several customer success stories. Explore some of the examples and contact us for more information.

Download the full report at Building Trust in a Cloudy Sky: The State of Cloud Adoption and Security (25 pp., PDF, opt-in).

 

Announcing frevvo 7.2

form-workflowToday we’re happy to announce the general release of frevvo 7.2. Cloud customers were automatically upgraded on April 29. On-Premise availability is coming up shortly – subscribe to Release Announcements for the precise date. This release also includes upgrades to the Database Connector.

We know that frevvo is powerful software but there’s also a learning curve. frevvo 7.2 is the first in a series of updates this year focused on making it easier to use.

Visual Rule Builder

VRBTopDiagram3

One of the main areas customers tell us about is Rules. They’re really really powerful and many customers love the flexibility of being able to write JavaScript code and create very complex, dynamic behavior. But, they can be hard to use. Enter the Visual Rule Builder. Using it, you can create many rules visually rather than writing JavaScript. Read more in this blog article and find detailed documentation here. We’re excited about this new capability and expect improvements over multiple releases to make it easier and increasingly capable of replacing JavaScript-based rules.

This release also includes some security enhancements – e.g. user ids no longer appear in URLs and are replaced by opaque UUIDs – and other under-the-hood improvements needed for future ease-of-use improvements.

Database Connector

The DB Connector is one of the most widely used connectors – customers have created all kinds of integrations with their SQL databases. Most of the improvements made in this release are fairly technical and we won’t go into details here. See the Release Notes for reasons to upgrade. We’ve also made several under-the-hood improvements so we can make this oft-used connector easier to use and as point-and-click as possible. We’ll detail those in future blog posts.

We’re excited about this release and several upcoming ones. The focus is squarely on updating and making so many of the good things we do easier to use.

 

Embed frevvo on mobile pages

mobiledevicesfrevvo’s forms and workflows already work well on mobile devices. They’ll automatically resize to fit your phone or tablet, the icons and controls will be slightly larger, long forms can be broken up into multiple pages etc. They just work without much tinkering if any.

But, customers want to embed them in their mobile web pages. Since the web page and form are usually served up from different hosts, we have to use an iframe. And iframes are notoriously difficult on mobile devices. It’s doubly tricky for us since the size of the form can change e.g. when the user selects a different Tab or expands/collapses a Section or clicks + to add a repeating item.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Fortunately, mobile browsers & devices have now evolved to where we can provide this to customers. As you can see from the slideshow above, frevvo’s own Contact form is embedded in our website and renders perfectly in an iframe on tablets and phones. The forms will resize automatically to the device width, they height will automatically increase if the form height changes (switch Tab, expand Section etc.) and device rotation will also work automatically. We’ll be rolling this out in the next few weeks and customers won’t have to do anything.

We’re also working on rolling out truly responsive forms on desktop browsers since we finally have no customers still using [the much-hated] IE8 and almost no one using IE9 either. But, that’s for another article.

Roadmap: Part 4 – box.com Connector

 

frevvo-box

Save documents & attachments generated from frevvo forms and workflows to your box account

In a recent article, my colleague Yuri wrote about adding frevvo to Google Drive/Apps so it can be used as a low-cost ECM system.

It makes sense. Customers want an end-to-end solution where they use frevvo so they can stop emailing PDF documents around for signatures. It works great for them. But the documents need to live somewhere.

But, many enterprise customers still aren’t comfortable with using Google Drive for ECM.

We’ve recently noticed an uptick in customers and prospects who have asked about saving submission data from an automated frevvo form or workflow to their box account. So, we’ve decided to do something about it.

box-wizard

Save to box wizards

We’re working on a Connector and associated wizard for box. Similar, in principle to the Google Drive connector that lets you save documents to Drive. It’s simple and visual:

  • Choose Document Actions and select the Save to box.com option.
  • In the wizard that pops up, provide your credentials. The wizard will login to your box account, browse to find available folders and display them.
  • Select a parent folder (e.g. Purchase Orders) and a submission folder. Typically, the submission folder is a template that’s dynamically generated e.g. {ClientName}.
  • You can also choose which documents get saved including generated files e.g. a Government W-4 for an Employee On-Boarding workflow.
  • Click Finish and you’re done.

When the form or flow is submitted, the documents will be uploaded to your box account in a new subfolder whose name is generated from the ClientName form field (in our example). All subfolders reside in the parent folder (Purchase Order in our example).

Once in box, you can use all their features to collaborate, share and manage the documents in question.

It’s as easy as that. The Connector is targeted for V7.1, which is currently under development and targeted for late October, 2016. Obviously, the date could change 🙂

Interested in learning more? Contact us anytime for more details.

Using Control Templates

When designing forms and workflows, there are some common use cases that come up very frequently. Some of these have associated business rules. Control Templates provide a mechanism for building these once and re-using them many times. Let’s take a look at an example and see how you can use it. You can try these templates by clicking on this link and download the form here if you want to view them in detail.

Automatically set today’s date

Purchase Order, Employee On-Boarding, Expense Report, Leave Approval and many other forms have a date control that should be automatically set to today’s date. Instead of making the user type it in, we can just set it up automatically with a trivial business rule:

if (form.load) {
if (tDate.value.length === 0) {
tDate.value = frevvo.currentDate();
}
}

Easy enough. Now, let’s turn it into a reusable control template.

Step 1: Put the Date control in a Panel and give it a nice user-friendly name like Current Date Panel. You can publish just the control but it’s necessary to put it into a panel so that the associated rules get carried along.

datePanel

Panel with a User-Friendly Name

Step 2: Drag the Panel into the Custom palette. Hover the mouse over the header of the custom palette area while dragging. The header and drag icon will change and you can drop the control into the palette.

customPalette

Drag/Drop into Custom Palette

Step 3: When you drop it in, a wizard appears. Enter any desired tags, a description and make sure you check the box next to the rule. The read-only box will automatically get checked. The tags can be used later by other designers to find the published custom control. The read-only box prevents changes to certain properties that could cause the associated rule to fail. Then click Submit and Voila! You have a published custom control.

publish

Publish Wizard

 

How can another designer use it?

It’s simple. In the Form Designer, open the Custom Palette and click the Search link. In the wizard that shows up, you can view all published custom controls or enter a string and click the Search Controls button to narrow the list by tag. When you find the control you want, check the box next to it and click Finish.

searchCustom

Find Published Templates

The control will appear in your Custom Palette from now on every time you open the Form Designer. To use it, simply drag & drop it from the Custom Palette into your form. The layout and behavior will be preserved. In this example, the date will automatically initialize to the current date.

The example form above also contains templates for calculating a sub-total and grand total for line items in a Table and for initializing controls automatically with the currently logged-in user’s information (e.g. First Name, Last Name). You can download the form by clicking on this link to view the controls and associated rules. We’ll discuss these examples in a separate how-to article.