Overview of the form creator

This article describes the initial release of the Formotus online form creator in July, 2016.

This is the screen you see when you create a new form from scratch. Let's take a tour of its four main work areas.

1. Controls

The left column shows all the controls you can add in your form for the user to interact with. Select controls here to insert them in the center-pane. Select a control in the center pane to edit its properties on the left.

The controls are organized in the following categories:

Basic

These are very common controls like the ones you're used to seeing on paper or in web forms -- text boxes, checkboxes, dropdowns, etc. Notice that the first two, Heading and Rich Text, do not accept user input but simply display on the form for informational or branding purposes. 

Advanced

These controls generally take advantage of mobile device capabilities to capture data in your form such as photographs, signatures, barcode readings, GPS locations and timestamps. The last two, Display Picture and Display Text, are designed to display in one part of the form text or images that have been captured in a different part of the form.

Display and Layout

The only layout control available at release is the Divider Line, which also functions as a page break when printing forms. Other controls show disabled because they are coming soon.

Buttons

Buttons allow users to take actions such as Switch View (navigate to a different screen), Submit the form (for example to email or a SharePoint library), and Query data. More button actions will be available in the future.

2. Center pane

The center pane is where you see the form you are designing. It shows visually much as it will appear to the end user, but the controls are not functional here.

When you add a control it appears at the bottom of the center pane, and it can be dragged to a different position.

Selecting a control in the center pane opens its properties for editing on the left. The available properties vary by control.

 

Center Pane Features

Tips and Notes

  1. After changing a property, click the Apply button to see the change in the center pane.
  2. Important: Changes applied to the center pane are not saved in the form until you click Save and Publish.
  3. Controls come with labels to guide end users. Replace the word "Label" with the text you want.
  4. The Duplicate button is very handy. For example, get your first question formatted just the way you want it, then duplicate it to create additional questions formatted the same way.

3. Fields

Data collected by your form is stored in fields. When you insert a control that collects data in your form, a field is created automatically to store that data. For example, when you insert a textbox control, a field named textbox1 is created in the right pane.

It's a good idea to rename your fields to meaningful names that correspond to the labels in the control.  For example, if the textbox in the form above will contain the first name of a person, change the label text and field name accordingly:

To change a field name, select the field on the right and click Edit. This opens the Field Properties box where you can also specify a default value for the field. 

Field Properties dialog

Default values can be static, or you can use a formula to generate the default value dynamically using functions and field values. For example, if you want a textbox to display today's date, click Insert Function and select Today to insert the today() function in the formula box. Formulas can also be entered manually in the box. For more info about dynamic default values, search the knowledge base for 'formulas'.

 

Tips and Notes

  1. For simple forms there may be no need to do anything in the Fields pane.
  2. Typically one field corresponds to one control, but for advanced scenarios it's possible to have multiple controls bound to the same field.
  3. Be careful about deleting fields. Every data entry control must be bound to a field, and deleting a control's field will cause errors in your form. 

4. Data Connections

Data connections define a destination for your form to submit, and can also query data into your form.

Data Destinations

Add a data destination

Almost every form needs at least one data connection so that it can submit somewhere. To add a submit data connection, click on Data / Submit and click + Data Destination to open the data destination wizard.

Depending on your subscription level, different types of data connection may be available. All plans support at least Email Submit and SharePoint Library Submit. Select the one you want and click Next to start the connection wizard.

Data Sources

Click on the Query tab under Data to set up a data source for your form to query.

Add a Data Source

Again, different subscription plans will have different options available. All plans support attaching a static data file (XML or Excel) for use in the form. Higher level plans also support dynamic online queries to sources such as SharePoint lists or web services.

 

Tags: Pages, eforms, FormDesigner, ownerhome, FormDesigner
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