The upcoming release of Workplace Forms 2.7 is very exciting for our team due to performance improvements across the board as well as a wealth of improvements to the design time experience. However, the Workplace Forms product line has also benefited from some refinements to the XFDL and XForms layers, and that's what this blog entry is about.
The focal point for the XFDL presentation layer changes has been higher precision layout of tables. The form author can now control the amount of padding between table "rows" to the point where one can essentially create a grid appearance in which there are absolutely no unused pixels. Of course the use case is to be able not only to achieve zero unused space, but to have fine grain control that allows the form author to get down to zero but also to allow a little bit of breathing room for effects like row highlighting. Finally, XFDL now has the ability to create collapsible content such as "details" panes as well as collapsible table columns.
At the XForms level, more of the features from the XForms 1.1 last call working draft are now supported. The focus was on simplifying the handling of repeated data, which again is aligned with the focus on tables at the presentation level. The origin attribute is now supported on the insert action, which means that the prototype for repeated data can be copied from any instance of the XForms model. So, rather than copying an existing row of data then running a pile of setvalue actions to clear it out, the insert action can simply grab a new empty prototypical row of data, which means forms can be faster and take up less memory. The context attribute is also supported for insert and delete actions, which makes it easier to implement a table that is allowed to be empty. Finally, the while attribute is now supported for all XForms actions and sets of actions (the if attribute was already supported). This allows lots of data processing abilities for repeated data, including more complex results obtained from web services.
And last but not least we did make some small but meaningful additions to the language that were implemented across the product line but primarily motivated by the desire to make XFDL forms fit better into a corporate web site when the form is delivered via conversion by Web Form Server. This includes additional styling for XFDL button items to help them look and feel more like anchor links and offering the ability to hide the usual form toolbelt (which has open, save, and other form operation buttons on it). Hiding the toolbelt is useful when the form is intended to be in a portlet or as a component of a larger web application user interface.
I am proud of every release we do, and yet as each release nears, I just can't wait to get it out there into your hands because of how much better it will make your life developing forms applications. Once again, Workplace Forms 2.7 is going to be that kind of release.