FORMS, BUT BETTER

WEBCON is a business process, workflow automation, low-code/no-code application platform, and forms are a big part of it. In all the ways that matter most, our forms do things that would be difficult if not prohibitive for dedicated form tools to deliver…

Behind every form, there’s a process

Forms are filled out and submitted for a reason. There’s always a process involved; it will certainly involve what action should be taken, but it could even involve how to handle further input from other people (the “for office use only” sections you sometimes see on paper forms).

Some form tools treat the form like a document, and it’s up to you to decide what to do with it. It’s a structured document editor at best, not a solution.

Other platforms offer one tool for designing a workflow and a different tool for designing forms. If they need to work together, it’s up to you to keep them in sync.

WEBCON is different. A form is connected to a workflow. When you modify the workflow, the form adapts immediately. The workflow can even tell the form which fields to display, enable, and/or require.

A form that adapts without scripts or formulas

Have you ever needed a form to hide/show, enable/disable, or have a field require (or not mind a missing) entry – and have needed those settings to vary depending on what stage of a workflow you’re in at the moment? Have you ever needed a multi-page form, like a wizard, or a survey with branching logic?

Almost every other tool accomplishes this by making you embed a lot of formulas and script into every form, every button, every screen, or every panel. It gets messy – and unmaintainable – quickly.

WEBCON is different. Deciding whether a field is required/enabled/visible during any given workflow step requires no more work than checking a checkbox. It does away with 90% or more of any custom form acrobatics you used to have to do manually. And it’s incredibly quick and easy to change.

Rules are there – and they’re great

If you’re not familiar with rules, since not every platform offers them, they’re reusable logic. You’d use them in forms to decide on whether a field should be visible (or editable, or required). You’d use them to auto-populate fields with data. You’d use them to test conditions to figure out which workflow path should be taken next. Rules allow you to save and reuse logic over and over again.

Many other products offer either a simple rule language or have you work directly in JavaScript when you want to customize form behavior. Given that the loudest complaints about JavaScript come from JavaScript developers, we’re not sure that’s a good idea.

WEBCON’s back-end business rules and front-end form rules are easy to define, easy to read, and packed with plenty of power. If you ever need to fine-tune them using SQL queries, .NET code, or JavaScript, go for it. But you won’t need to very often, if at all.

Have your line-item data and use it, too

A form with master data and detail rows is a very common scenario. But most form tools don’t handle it well.

If the detail rows (the line items, if you prefer) are kept in a separate list or table, you need to be extra careful when changing field values, permissions, or form behavior – let alone when migrating or archiving content.

If the detail rows are embedded in the form data itself (e.g., a block of XML or JSON), the only way to get at the detail rows for a whole set of forms is to open each form, one at a time, and read/copy each row’s values. It’s tedious.

WEBCON is different. We’re clever about the way we store data, so it behaves like a structured document when you need it to (permissions, copying, archiving, migrating, editing), but like a set of linked tables when you need that (querying, reporting). It’s the best of both worlds.

Moreover, if you need to keep a copy of fetched external data (e.g., for audit trail purposes), we can do that. If you just want external data queried/displayed/discarded, that’s fine as well.

Full-blown case files

Most forms pull data from many different places. If you have master data, detail data, comments, attachments, external charts and reports, and an audit trail, those are being kept in separate places. The form gathers them together for a moment in time and that’s it.

WEBCON is different. Our forms aren’t just a master row of data with possible repeating detail rows. They can contain (viewable and editable) document attachments. Email attachments. Comments. Charts. A complete audit trail. Buttons that move the case in different directions within a business process.

That’s right: cases. WEBCON BPS forms are case files. They’re lightweight workspaces. They’re containers. They’re durable. They’re archivable. They’re better.

Reuse, don’t rebuild

Many form tools make the form do all the work. That sounds reasonable at first glance, but what happens when you want to use the same field in two different forms? If you have custom validation, conditional formatting, etc., you’ll have to do all of that work twice.

WEBCON BPS is different. Each application has a catalog of fields, and that includes data types, rules, formatting details, permissions, and everything else. Any field can be used in multiple forms – without redoing any work.

They’re consistent, and easy to complete

The effort a user needs to learn one application will pay off over and over. Our forms allow plenty of room for branding and creative license, but not to the point where deploying two applications means doubling your training costs. We have a commitment to consistency that pays off the more you use the WEBCON BPS platform.

That consistency applies to desktop and mobile browsers, to phone and tablet apps, to surfacing in other software pages and workspaces, and more. You won’t have to audit disparate development efforts to ensure standards compliance.

As you ought to expect, our forms are responsive. They work in, and adapt to, desktop browsers, mobile browsers, mobile apps, Outlook add-ins, SharePoint Web Parts, Teams workspaces, and more. They adapt to multiple browser dialects. You can print them.

You can group fields into sections and tabs. Fields can be defined as standard data types, externally-fetched data, reports, charts, maps, cascading dropdown choices, and a lot more.

You can reach a specific form with a specific URL instead of going through a nest of navigation menus.

All of which is good. Really good. What we’d hope expect from a specialized form tool.

So yes – better

I suppose if you wanted a form to collect data and save it as a standalone PDF file in a SharePoint document library, there might be simpler options. But come to think of it, we can do that, too.

Would you like to see how we do workflow, but better? Check out >

How about how we do low-code/no-code application development, but better? Check out >

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