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TWiki Forms - Foundation of TWiki Applications

Add structure to content with forms attached to twiki topics. TWiki forms (with form fields) and formatted search are the base for building database applications.

On this page:

Overview

By adding form-based input to free form content, you can structure topics with unlimited, easily searchable categories. A form is enabled for a web and can be added to a topic. The form data is shown in tabular format when the topic is viewed, and can be changed in edit mode using edit fields, radio buttons, check boxes and list boxes. Many different form types can be defined in a web, though a topic can only have one form attached to it at a time.

Typical steps to build an application based on TWiki forms:

  1. Define a form template
  2. Enable the form for a web
  3. Add the form to a template topic
  4. Build an HTML form to create new topics based on that template topic
  5. Build a FormattedSearch to list topics that share the same form

TIP Tip: The blog How to Create a TWiki Application on TWiki.org is a good tutorial to get started with TWiki forms based applications.

Defining a Form

A Form Template specifies the fields in a form. A Form Template is simply a page containing a TWiki table, where each row of the table specifies one form field.

  1. Create a new topic with your form name: YourForm, ExpenseReportForm, InfoCategoryForm, RecordReviewForm, whatever you need.
    Tip, idea The name of a Form Template topic must end in Form.
  2. Create a TWiki table, with each column representing one element of an entry field: Name, Type, Size, Values, Tooltip message, and Attributes (see sample below).
  3. For each field, fill in a new line; for the type of field, select from the list.
  4. Save the topic

Example:
| *Name* | *Type* | *Size* | *Values* | *Tooltip message* | *Attributes* |
| TopicClassification | select | 1 | NoDisclosure, PublicSupported, PublicFAQ | blah blah... |   |
| OperatingSystem | checkbox | 3 | OsHPUX, OsLinux, OsSolaris, OsWin | blah blah... |   |
| OsVersion | text | 16 | | blah blah... |   |

Name Type Size Values Tooltip message Attributes
TopicClassification select 1 NoDisclosure, PublicSupported, PublicFAQ blah blah...  
OperatingSystem checkbox 3 OsHPUX, OsLinux, OsSolaris, OsWin blah blah...  
OsVersion text 16   blah blah...  

See structure of a form for full details of what types are available and what all the columns mean.

You can also retrieve possible values for select, checkbox or radio types from other topics:

Example:

Field values can also be set using the result of expanding other TWiki variables. For example,

%SEARCH{"Office$" scope="topic" web="%USERSWEB%" nonoise="on" type="regex" format="$web.$topic" separator=", " }%

When used in the value field of the form definition, this will find all topic names in the Main web which end in "Office" and use them as the legal field values.

Adding a Form to a Topic

Changing a Form

Structure of a Form Template

A Form Template specifies the fields in a form. A Form Template is simply a page containing a TWiki table, where each row of the table specifies one form field.

Each row of the table defines one element of an input field:

Name Type Size Values Tooltip message Attributes

The Name, Type and Size columns are required. Other columns are optional. The form template must have a header row, e.g. at least | *Name* | *Type* | *Size* | is required. Columns:

For example, a simple form just supporting entry of a name and a date would look as follows:

| *Name* | *Type* | *Size* |
| Name   | text   | 80     |
| Date   | date   | 30     |

Field Name Notes:

Field Value Notes:

General Notes:

Form Field Types

Each table row of a form template defines one element of an input field:

Name Type Size Values Tooltip message Attributes

Many types of form fields are available. Some are TWiki internal, some are provided by extensions. Find more TWiki form field extensions on TWiki.org. The Size and Value depend on the Type used. Form field types:

Type Description Size Value
text One-line text field Text box width in number of characters Initial (default) content
textarea Multi-line text box Columns x rows, such as 80x6; default is 40x5 Initial (default) content
label Read-only text label   Text of the label
checkbox One or more checkboxes that can be toggled individually Number of checkboxes shown per line Comma-space-separated list of item labels - can be a dynamic SEARCH
checkbox+buttons Like checkbox, adding [Set] and [Clear] buttons
radio Radio buttons, mutually exclusive; only one can be selected Number of radio buttons shown per line Comma-space-separated list of item labels - can be a dynamic SEARCH
combobox screenshot-combobox Text field & select combination box, rendered as a text input field and a button to open up a selector box Text box width in number of characters Comma-space-separated list of options of the select box - can be a dynamic SEARCH
select Select box, rendered as a picklist or a multi-row selector box depending on the size value 1: Show a picklist
• Number > 1: Multi-row selector box of specified size
• Range e.g. 3..10: Multi-row selector box with variable size - the box will never be smaller than 3 items, never larger than 10, and will be 5 high if there are only 5 options
Comma-space-separated list of options of the select box - can be a dynamic SEARCH
select+multi Like select, turning multi-select on, to allow Shift+Click and Ctrl+Click to select (or deselect) multiple items
select+values Like select, allowing definition of values that are different to the displayed text. An option is defined as value: title, where the value is the value passed on form submit, and title is the option text shown to the user. For example:
| Field 9 | select+values | 3 | One, 2: Two, III: Three | Various values formats |
shows
but the values of options Two and Three are 2 and III, respectively. A legacy title=value syntax is supported as well, for example: One, Two=2, Three=III.
select+multi+values Combination of select+multi and select+values
color screenshot-small Single-line text box and a color picker to pick a color. The color can also be typed into the text box, such as #123456. See details. Text box width in number of characters Initial (default) color
date screenshot-small Text input field and a button next to it to pick a date from a pop-up calendar. The date can also be typed into the text box. See details. Text box width in number of characters Initial (default) date

Values in Other Topics

As described above, you can also retrieve possible values for select, checkbox or radio types from other topics. For example, if you have a rows defined like this:

| *Name*                 | *Type* | *Size* |
| AeroplaneManufacturers | select |        |
the TWiki will look for the topic AeroplaneManufacturers to get the possible values for the select.

The AeroplaneManufacturers topic must contain a table, where each row of the table describes a possible value. The table only requires one column, Name. Other columns may be present, but are ignored.

For example:

| *Name* |
| Routan |
| Focke-Wulf |
| De Havilland |

Notes:

Using a form template on a different web

You can use a form template on a different web by specifying a form template in the WEB.TOPIC format.

In addition, you can put a comma separated list of webs in the TWIKIFORMPATH variable. It's referred to only when a form template is spcified without a web (TOPIC instead of WEB.TOPIC). The webs in TWIKIFORMPATH are examined in the listed order until the specified template is found.

TWIKIFORMPATH may contain TWiki variables. For example:

   * Set TWIKIFORMPATH = %APPLICATION_WEB%, %WEB%

If TWIKIFORMPATH is defined, the current web is examined only if all the webs listed in it don't have the form template.

Extending the range of form data types

You can extend the range of data types accepted by forms by using TWikiPlugins. All such extended data types are single-valued (can only have one value) with the following exceptions:

Types with names like this can both take multiple values.

Hints and Tips

Editing Just Form Data, Without Topic Text

In some cases you want to change only the form data. You have the option of hiding the topic text with two methods:

Build an HTML Form to Create New Form-based Topics

New topics with a form are created by simple HTML forms asking for a topic name. For example, you can have a SubmitExpenseReport topic where you can create new expense reports, a SubmitVacationRequest topic, and so on. These can specify the required template topic with its associated form. Template topics has more.

A Form Template specifies the fields in a form. A Form Template is simply a page containing a TWiki table, where each row of the table specifies one form field.

Update Specific Form Fields

All the form fields are shown and can be updated when editing a topic that has a form. It is possible to have more control over the layout of a form, or update just a subset of the form fields by using a custom HTML form. For example, in a bug tracker, each topic would include a header topic that shows a form with some fields to update specific form fields of the bug item. Use the EDITFORMFIELD variable to easily create this form in the header topic. Example:

%EDITFORMFIELD{ "form" type="start" action="save" topic="%BASETOPIC%" }%
| Priority: | %EDITFORMFIELD{ "Priority" topic="%BASETOPIC%" }% |
| Status:   | %EDITFORMFIELD{ "Status"   topic="%BASETOPIC%" }% |
|  | %EDITFORMFIELD{ "form" type="submit" value="Update" }% |
%EDITFORMFIELD{ "LastUpdate" type="hidden" value="%SERVERTIME{$year-$mo-$day}%" }%
%EDITFORMFIELD{ "form" type="end" }%

Assuming the base topic has a BugForm with Priority and Status fields of type select, a LastUpdate field of type text, and some other fields. Above form shows a table with selectors for Priority and Status, and an Update button. On form submit, the Priority, Status and LastUpdate fields are updated in the base topic.

Searching for Form Data

TWiki Forms accept user-input data, stored as TWikiMetaData. Meta data also contains program-generated info about changes, attachments, etc. To find, format and display form and other meta data, see TWikiMetaData, EDITFORMFIELD, FORMFIELD, SEARCH and METASEARCH variables in TWikiVariables, and TWiki Formatted Search.

Example
TWiki users often want to have an overview of topics they contributed to. With the $formfield parameter it is easy to display the value of a classification field next to the topic link:
| *Topic* | *Classification* |
%SEARCH{"%USERSWEB%.UserName" scope="text" nosearch="on" nototal="on" sort="modified" reverse="on"
format="|<b>[[$web.$topic][$topic]]</b> |<nop>$formfield(TopicClassification) |" web="Sandbox"}%

Searching forms this way is obviously pretty inefficient, but it's easy to do. If you want better performance, take a look at some of the structured wiki extensions that support higher performance searching e.g. TWiki:Plugins.DBCachePlugin.

Gotcha!

Related Topics: TWikiTemplates, TWikiScripts, VarSEARCH, FormattedSearch, UserDocumentationCategory



Revision: r30 - 2014-10-04 - 13:00:27 - TWikiContributor

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