Posted in Database, Forms, HowTo

Dynamic database forms – easy!

It’s a very common business need. Enter a client id and you want client details to automatically fill in from the DB. Select an order and you want to view/edit order line item details. The problem is, it’s not easy to do even for programmers. There are all the details of connecting to the database, managing shared DB connections, error handling, transforming data back and forth between SQL and HTML forms, security/authentication and so on.

Not so with frevvo. It’s amazingly simple with our built-in Database Connector. You can find many details and try it out yourself by following our Database Connector Tutorial.
1. Write your SQL query in the DB Connector

SELECT p.productName as product, o.quantityOrdered as quantity, o.priceEach as price, p.productDescription as description, p.MSRP FROM OrderDetails o, Products p WHERE o.productCode=p.productCode and o.orderNumber={onum} ORDER by o.orderLineNumber

The {onum} is a variable representing the order number. It will get a list of line items for a particular order.

Database Query

2. Add it as a data source to your form or workflow
Generate an XSD for your query (using a sample order) simply by visiting the URL for your query in the DB connector. Save the XML and upload it to frevvo as a data source.

XML Schema

3. Generate the form with the click of a button
Drag/drop to customize as desired.Click the + icon for the data source and frevvo will generate controls. Since this query can return multiple line items, frevvo will generate a repeating section. We’ve changed it to a Table (grid) again just by modifying a property.

Generate FormCustomize

4. Link the form to the SQL query in the DB Connector
Open the Doc URI Wizard and set the URL for the data source to point to your query. In this case, we’re getting the order number variable from a separate drop down in the form.

Link to the SQL Query

That’s it. Try the form. When you select an order, the underlying Table automatically updates with the list of line items for that order. frevvo will automatically add and remove rows as necessary. No programming needed to create a form as sophisticated as this.

Order Line Items

Interested? To learn more Sign up and check out the Database Connector Tutorial. Or contact us for more information.

Posted in Forms, Mobile, Usability, Workflows

Nearly 60% of employees abandon corporate mobile apps due to a bad user experience

A recent study by Mobiquity finds that nearly 60% of employees are not satisfied with the quality of apps they should be using for their work-related tasks and abandon them. The study highlights a key challenge facing Business-To-Employee (B2E) apps – companies (especially mid-size ones) simply don’t have enough internal developers with the skills needed to build well-designed apps with a rich, intuitive user experience. With the BYOD trend only set to go, what’s IT to do?

For internal business processes like leave approvals, expense reports, employee on-boarding, patient referral, student admissions and so on, there are clear alternatives to internal development. You can choose specialized applications for many of these like Concur for expense reports and there are plenty of cloud-based HR providers.

But, for many companies, this isn’t a viable solution because (a) you have to deal with multiple vendors and (b) you have unique business needs. That’s where a mobile form builder like frevvo can help. You can easily design online forms and workflows so that they fit your business, integrate with back end systems and  yet work on all devices from smart phones to desktop computers to provide an appealing user experience for your employees. When employees can take pictures of receipts, sign using their finger on a touch screen, see tasks in one place and get work done quickly and easily anytime anywhere, they’ll use your apps and you’ll be well on your way to overcoming the B2E challenge. Infographic by Mobiquity.

abandonment-in-the-workplace-infographic

Posted in Forms

Why we do this

Building web forms really, really sucks!

frustrated-300x271

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!

We had to free other developers from this incredible waste of brainpower. As a developer, wouldn’t you be doing pretty much anything else than debugging CSS in Internet Explorer? Validating a Date in JavaScript? Tweaking XSLT so you can generate XML when a schema changes? It’s fun for a while but …

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!