Topics Under Consideration

I am considering the following blog topics. Perhaps you could comment back on your priorities.

1. “playlist .. slots” — what do you mean by playlist; what do you mean by slots?
2. The absolute wonders of the HTML hosting template
3. What makes Form Bridge tick?
4. A Cheat Sheet on getting at data in a customized layout
5. Wrappers, Panels, and Layouts — what am I looking at?
6. Your write-in

/Andy

3 Responses to Topics Under Consideration

  1. John Nesbitt says:

    I’ve been using Guides for almost a year now (started with the May 2007 LC Preview version).At the time we were developing dynamic, interactive PDFs for a new online application project and were about to purchase Reader Extensions so that forms could be taken offline. Our major concern was that, while a LC form was the perfect way to combine data, business rules and a printable document, using Adobe Reader as the UI was not something that most people were familiar / comfortable with.We took to the Form Guides technology straight away because we could reuse most of the business rules already developed in the PDF but wrap a cool Flex app over the top. A major advantage is that you don’t need to duplicate business logic between your UI and the final printed version of a document.We have developed 4 large Form Guides thus far – one of which has over 50 panels! During this time, we’ve found the Guide building process easy at some stages and frustrating at others (the overall satisfaction is positive though).One of the great wins with Guides is that you don’t need much Flex experience to customise a guide / panel layout, however I did found the documentation on customising a Guide needs to be more comprehensive (mind you, being a developer, I understand that documentation is the least of your worries when releasing a new technology like this). The biggest help was that the sample source code was basically the source code of all of the UI elements that made up a Guide – without that, we would have been lost.I understand that the public beta of the new version is not too far away (and I will be sure to leave plenty of feedback / suggestions in the forums ) but I’d like to share a couple suggestions here directly with you that I think would help improve the usability of the Guide Builder tool.Firstly, I think there should be a “re-bind” feature. I really like how you can link the value of a field to the caption / help text of another field or panel help text. However, if you change the form’s hierarchy at all – say, by renaming a subform / field or by moving a field to another subform for layout purposes – this breaks the Guide’s binding. While that’s a fair enough outcome, adding the field back into the Guide is frustrating, especially if you’ve spent time setting the different properties of the field (e.g. caption and field widths / heights, help text, caption text, etc). It is particularly frustrating when you’ve had to move / rename a whole subform and then have to add back 10 or more fields.It would be so handy if next to the link and help icons on a PanelItem in the Guide Builder, there was an icon such that when you drop a field onto it, it will change that PanelItem’s dataRef (with confirmation of course) to point to the newly dropped field’s dataRef. This way, you can quickly add the field back in without having to set all of the PanelItem’s properties again. You may have to check the newly dropped field type though to ensure that the previous properties are still applicable (e.g. you can’t drop a text field onto a checkbox because you can’t display a text field as “RadioButtons”).Another time this feature would come in handy is when you use a Fragment in different parts of the form (e.g. to gather address information in 2 different contexts). You usually want the Panel layout to be the same for both Fragments but whilst you can copy & paste the Panel layout, you cannot easily change the bindings for PanelItems and basically have to recreate the same Panel but bound to a different part of the form. If there was a re-bind feature, you could copy & paste the Panel layout, then drag and drop the fields from the other part of the form over the top of the copied Panel.Perhaps another way to approach the same issue is to allow the XML of the GuidedActivity to be edited directly (just like you can edit the raw XDP in the XML Source view mode).Secondly, the Panel Display Rules only use OR logic. More often than not, we’d like to use AND logic as most of the time Panels should only be displayed when 2 conditions are true (e.g. when investor type is “company” and company type is “public” then display the public company details panel). The only way to get around this is to create a hidden field in the PDF that calculates the desired presence of the Panel, add this hidden field to the Guide and then use the Panel Display Rules on the value of this hidden field.This isn’t much of an effort when you’ve only got a Guide with 5 panels but when most of your Guides have 20+ panels it can become painful (especially when all you had to do in the PDF is add one line to hide the parent subform).I suggest that the Panel Display Rules panel should be extended so that the user can choose the type of logic they want applied for all of the rules on that Panel (I accept that it would become way too complicated to give the logic option on each rule). Perhaps the top part of the panel could have a drop down list or radio button group where you could select between “one” or “all” (and maybe even “none”) of the rules being satisfied before the Panel will display. I imagine you could store the logic condition as an attribute in the element.I look forward to seeing the new version of LiveCycle Designer ES soon and hope that you consider the above suggestions.Keep up the great work!

  2. Andy says:

    Thank you John.You provided this idea in another forum and it was MUCH appreciated. We have implemented your ‘rebind’ idea and I must say that I have had many occasions to use it myself. Very handy indeed.Thanks,Andy

  3. John Nesbitt says:

    That is great to hear, it’s fantastic that you research the forums looking for new ideas.I am eagerly waiting for the confirmation e-mail to the pre-release for LiveCycle ES and can’t wait to see the new features!I saw in Gilles’ video yesterday that you actually get a preview of the Panel layout in the Guide Builder without needing to compile the Form Guide – that was an awesome idea!!! I hate to think how many times I’ve recompiled the Guide (and waited a minute or two) only to find the layout wasn’t what I expected.The other feature I picked up on his video was that you could, albeit with a couple of tricks, compile and run the Form Guide in Flex Builder….having the ability to run the Guide with the Flex debugger would have saved me so many hours work (using Alert boxes to display variables states, etc).I tried to compile in Flex Builder from the Guide Content generated by the Guide Builder preview but it would work – I wish those tricks were added to the original Customising Form Guides Using Flex Builder document (which I hope will be updated with the next version of LiveCycle).Thanks again for implementing the rebind feature,John.