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Question

Feature request - Forms Prefabs

asked on May 21, 2018

Being able to share fields across forms is one of the most unique and useful functions in forms. It is so useful that it is getting used more and more in complex business processes and it does lead to something that I have to consistently warn about.

If you copy a form 10 times, you will have to do 10 times the work to update it, and you will have roughly 10x the chances of making a mistake when updating.

I have been thinking about how this could be resolved, so that fields could be shared without the burden. I think a Prefab option would be a great solution.

It is crucial to be able to change properties across forms while using the same variable which is the existing functionality. However it would also be nice to be able to setup a field as Prefab, where we could update the master Prefab and push our updates out to any other forms using this Prefab. This would be in addition to the normal fields.

Or if the Prefab supported slicing, where you choose which properties to push AND  to which forms on update, then it could eventually replace the existing functionality in its entirety.

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Replies

replied on May 22, 2018 Show version history

I think this post brings up a great point. I've had a lot of users break their Forms processes by doing things like changing the options in a drop down menu or a checkbox field in only one place and causing errors when a later form loads.

To add to this request, I'd like to see a feature that looks at which other forms use the field being edited and prompts the user with something like "Apply changes to all instances of this field: YES or NO" to allow quick updates to the other forms in the same business process.

Forms already identifies which forms use a particular variable since it lists them when you go to edit/delete them, so I imagine it would just be a matter of adding the update mechanisms.

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replied on May 23, 2018

Thanks for your feature idea, it's a good one. We are working on building some of that functionality for a future release. 

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replied on August 21, 2018

@████████, any very approximate ETA you can provide?

I just started using forms and immediately my joy was squashed with discouragement when I realized that every approval step requires a COPY of the form and there is no way to push or propagate changes to all the other forms.

Its inevitable that we will need to iterate on the form and its daunting to conceive of having to make changes to 5 or 6 forms when all these other steps are simply approving/rejecting, or answering a couple questions.

I would be great if there was a way to append the questions to the master form and then append on to the following form or something so each approval stage adds on to the previous one without creating a true copy of the form that must be separately managed, updated, and tested.

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replied on August 22, 2018

Hi Kenny. I have solved the duplication issue by making more use of the Action Pane. At first I thought I needed to copy information filled out previously as well, but the action pane is the solution.

Only provide the new fields that need to be filled out by the next user action, they can use the action pane to view previous submission data. Just make sure they are setup as Business Manager's of the process. This allows them to see all other submissions throughout the process.

It created a much better experience for both myself in development and the users, since it is very clear what they need to fill out and when they are referencing what others have filled out.

I would still like Prefabs very much though for so many other reasons. There are lots of cases where you are moving elements around on forms and every time you delete and re-add it adds the very first saved copy of the variable, which could be some entirely different configuration than it has become over time.

 

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replied on August 22, 2018

Sounds a bit awkward and gives more access than I'd like to the approves, but sounds better than duplicating forms. I'll take a look.

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replied on August 22, 2018

@████████, Thank you for the suggestion! This is definitely an improvement!

I plan to add instructions (custom HTML) at the top of the subsequent forms about how to access the original form in the action pane to reduce training issues.

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replied on August 22, 2018

Good to hear. It also allows me to start opening up the comments area again, since they are going to see them when it is used, and it works incredible when they actually see them.

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replied on August 27, 2018

There is no approximate ETA that can be given for this feature, but it is not on a short term release time frame. 

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replied on September 10, 2018

@████████,

I want to save all the data/approvals gathered into Laserfiche. How do you roll up all the approvals, comments, etc into one document in Laserfiche?

Do I have to capture approval comments along the way in different fields and create one final form that's basically a duplicate of the first form plus all the decisions? That would defeat part of what we are trying to accomplish: not creating duplicate forms to maintain.

Any ideas?

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replied on September 10, 2018

All comments, using the built in comments box, get added to the action pane. You can save the action pane with the form using the option on the save to repository activity. This also saves the approval/action history.

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