Web Form Builder

Web Form Builder
Friday, January 19, 2018PrintSubscribe
Dark Theme and Client/Server Configuration

Code On Time release introduces the new Theme Engine with support for custom themes. The new engine comes with new “Dark” theme. Now developers can choose from 70 color combinations provided by 2 themes and 35 accents.

We have also renamed Settings/ Web Server Configuration section Settings / Client & Server.

We have extended the client framework with the foundation for “inline editing” in grids/cards/list. Keep reading to find more.

Dark Theme

An example of  Dark theme with Construction accent.

An example of  Dark theme with Construction accent in app with Touch UI.

This is an app with Dark theme in Vantage accent.

This is an app with Dark theme in Vantage accent. The app was created with Code On Time app generator.

Here is a bootstrap-based page in an app with Dark theme and Aquarium accent. We have implemented new “software breakpoints” for bootstrap content to enable correct rendering of bootstrap content in modal pages and the upcoming split screens. The menu is not displayed on the toolbar if every page with icon is referenced in the Tab Bar at the bottom of the screen.

Here is a bootstrap-based page in an app with Dark theme and Aquarium accent.  The app is implemented with Touch UI.

Client & Server

Project configuration section in Settings previously called Web Server Configuration is now called Client & Server.


Client & Server section allows selecting the front end for your app. The default option is the Web Browser. This option is already familiar to developer using Code On Time. The app generator will start the default web browser of the operating system.


Two additional options Generic App and Custom App will start a native app either based on Chromium Embedded Framework (all versions of Windows with API compatible with Windows 7) or Universal Windows Platform (Windows 10 and above).


The native custom or generic app will install JavaScript, CSS, HTML, Fonts, and Images of your application on the device by downloading them from the server. IIS Express is the server that developers work with to test their applications.

Entire application framework is installed on the device in the native mode. Native app loads local pages in a platform-specific web view. Local pages will request data from the remote server (IIS Express in development mode). The main advantage of native apps is faster load time and ability to interact with the device.

We are launching a new product called Offline Sync Add-On that will enable native app to work in a completely disconnected or “offline” mode. It will perform preemptive downloading of data on the device. No changes to the server-side application will be requires. Any app created with Code On Time and deployed to a server will work in a completely offline mode with the help of the add-on.

The rollout of native apps will begin with Generic App for Windows 7 and Universal Windows Platform.

Custom apps for the same platform will become available in February of 2018. Offline Sync Add-On is expected to become available in the same time frame.

Generic and Custom apps for iOS will become available in March 2018, which will be followed by Android and MacOS.

Release Summary

The following features and enhancements are included in the release:

  • Theme engine has been extended to support multiple themes with accents. The new theme called Dark is introduced. It can be combined with any of the 35 accents.
  • Data fields with HyperlinkFormatString are displays as links in forms. TouchUI
  • SQL business rules use the connection string name specified in the data controller if any.
  • Bootstrap responsiveness is now based on "software" breakpoints calculated for each page in Touch UI.
  • Bootstrap responsiveness is fixed app-min-lg in Classic UI.
  • Method dataView.tagged() does not assign tag cache if there are no tags defined
  • Any view tagged as history-search-none will not retain values in filter, quick find, advanced search and will also forget selected view if different from the default.
  • The following configuration of ~touch-settings.json will disable the search history globally in the lookups.
      "history": {
        "lookup": {
          "search": false
  • Section on the project settings Web Server Configuration has been renamed to Client & Server. It allows configuring the front-end on the development that will be used to preview the app. Supported options “Browser”, “Generic”, and “Custom” apps.
  • Running an app created with Unlimited Edition in debug mode of Visual Studio will automatically link “debugging” versions of the JavaScript libraries.
  • Client library now includes uniqcode.js to allow better parsing of text with non-Latin characters.
  • Removed the code related to the legacy transaction management in the server-side framework. It will be replaced with the new code to support ODP (Offline Data Processor).
  • Menu strip is not displayed in the toolbar if all menu items have icons and the Tab Bar is visible. Touch UI
  • Menu strip is not displayed in the toolbar if all menu items have icons and the all icons are visible at the bottom of the sidebar. TouchUI
  • Touch devices with small form factor do not reduce density of summary views anymore.
  • Added "beforeusercontextshow.app" event to add user context menu items in sidebar, menu bar, user dropdown. Touch UI
  • Fixed issue with Web App Factory projects not finding "Template.xslt" file.
  • Password character is now rendered as "black circle" character. Touch UI
  • Tooltip for Boolean values in grids displays values as Yes and No. Touch UI
  • Added CSS minification to theme stylesheet generator. Touch UI
  • Removed the limits on the width of app name in the toolbar when sidebar is minimized. Touch UI
  • View Selector on action bar has the same color as actions and groups. Touch UI
  • Switching between Charts and [ViewStyle+Aggregates] correctly resets the page height. Touch UI
  • Method $app.touch.resetPageHeight will reset the height of the current page. Touch UI
  • Fixed security issue with anonymous access to controller XML in apps with HTML implementation.

Inline Editing

The most frequently requested feature that we hear about from customers is the ability to edit data inline. The direct insertion of inputs in grid/list/cards view styles is complicated by the fact that these styles are displaying data inside of “A” tag. Our internal discussions have led to a conclusion that inline input will be integrated in the future rewrite of these view styles, further delaying availability.

Luckily our independent effort on Universal Input and Surveys allowed us to architect the method of inline editing in Touch UI apps compatible both with touch devices and device with keyboard/mouse input. The foundational components are already in place and will work with the current “link-based” implementation of grid/list/cards.

The complete integration of Inline Editing in the Touch UI in expected in a couple of weeks!!!

Monday, January 8, 2018PrintSubscribe
Dynamic Form Builder

Powerful custom data input forms with responsive design is the higlight of our product.

A modal master-detail form in the app with Touch UI.

A modal master-detail form in the app with Touch UI.

A fullscreen presentation of the same master-detail form in the app with Touch UI.

A fullscreen presentation of the same master-detail form in the app with Touch UI.

Developers can design forms with drag & drop operations.

Our team is working on further enhancing form development and making it possible creating forms at runtime. Our strategy is multi-pronged.


Forms must allow collecting master-detail data that can be manipulated as a single complex entity. This requires enhancements in the Application Framework.

Form Builder must allow live preview of design changes in forms.

Form Builder can be a part of both design and runtime environment.

The Big Plan

1) Offline Data Processor (ODP) will make possible creating controllers that allow collecting data without posting records to the server. This enables createForm1 with visible child DataView fields in "New" mode. The new record with the child data is submitted to the server as single entity and saved to the database in the context of a database transaction. ODP will go live by the end of Junuary 2018.

2) Survey is a JavaScript definition of a data controller not based on a database entity. The framework reads definition and converts it into the data controller structures. Application Framework heavily utilizes surveys in Batch Edit, Quick Find, Advanced Search, Import, and OAuth registration forms.

3) ODP will make possible creating surveys with master-detail data collection.
Expected availability is February 2018.

4) ODP makes possible creating surveys and data controller forms collecting child data along with the master record.

5) ODP makes possible confirmation controllers with master-detail data. Child data will be accessible in business rules in JSON format. Expected availability is February 2018.

6) The framework will be extended with Data Driven Surveys. This is a simple but prominent feature on our Roadmap. In the nutshell, the purpose of Data Driven Surveys is to allow using surveys stored in the database to collect master-detail data at runtime. We already have prototypes of the technology and will have it integrated in the code generation library in the February 2018 when ODP is completed.

7) Next iteration of Code On Time is called "v9".  We are moving the design environment directly into the apps! The new Project Explorer is written in JavaScript and loads in live apps on-demand. Drag & Drop between the Project Explorer and live pages/forms will simplify development. Live inspection of pages will synchronize the selection in the Project Explorer. Build-in Object Inspector will make it easy learning about properties of selected objects. See our roadmap for details about Code On Time v9.

8) The forms of a Data Driven Surveys are stored in JSON format in the long text column of a dedicated table in the app. Application framework displays DDS as a textarea when the record is opened in an app. Developers can edit the definition of the survey directly or come up with their own "form builder" to do so.

Developers mark the corresponding data field with the tag "survey-form". The framework will activate the survey available in the same row when another field in a data controller marked with the tag "survey-data" is activated.

A new product called Form Builder Add-On will become available with the introduction of "v9". It includes the packaged design environment of "v9" activated at runtime in a live app. The add-on will cause the data field marked as "survey-form" to be rendered as “Design” button. Form Builder is displayed when the button is pressed.

Friday, February 3, 2017PrintSubscribe
Custom Logo and Theme

Universal Business Apps (UBA) created with Code On Time are designed to run on desktop and mobile devices.  UBAs may be packaged as native applications and also work in the web browser in online and offline modes. Each app store dictates certain user interface requirements. The new theme framework of Touch UI 2017 makes it easy to fulfill them.

Native applications are distributed through app stores of the operating system verndors. These app stores have a common requirement not to place your logo directly in the user interface, making it visible at all times. The focus must be on application functionality rather than on company branding.

At the same time, it is important to keep the user aware of your brand. Touch UI makes this easy.

Consider the following logo of a fictitious company:


Let’s incorporate this logo into an application created with Code On Time or Cloud On Time.

Creating a Theme Accent

The default theme of the application is Light with Aquarium accent.


We will choose Social accent as a basis for the customization.


Create a copy of the file ~/touch/touch-accent.social.json and name it touch-accent.acme.json. Open the new file in your favorite text editor.


Change the “name” to “Acme”. Find and replace the color #3b5999 with #006940 everywhere in the file. Change header.icon.default from #eee to #ee3a43.  Also change the value of properties button.promo.icon.default and buttons.menu.icon.default to #ee3a43.

Both #006940 and #ee3a43 represent the codes of the main colors used in the log. You can use the standard CSS color names, such as “green” and “red”.

Save the file, switch back to your application, proceed to Themes section under Settings, and select the new theme “Acme”.


The application colors will change to match the branding of our fictitious company. It only took a few minutes to give your app a branded look-and-feel.




image    image

Changing Application Name

The name of the app needs to be changed as well. By default, the name will be derived from the page header text specified in the project settings. If the project’s settings for the header is blank, then the name will read as “Code on Time” or “Cloud On Time”.


There is configuration file in the root of your project, called ~/touch-settings.json. It controls the application behavior and appearance. Open the file and specify appName property to provide a name for the app.


Do not use the brand name there. Instead specify the name that reflects the purpose of the app. Let’s use Inventory Manager for this example. Save the file and refresh the page. The new app name will be visible in the top left corner of the toolbar.


Explicit Branding

The best place to display your branding is the Splash Screen and Account Manager.

The splash screen is displayed briefly when the user starts the app.


The picture on the left side of the screen and the application name can be replaced with alternative images.

Add a new configuration element splash to the file ~/touch-settings.json, as shown in the screenshot below.


Properties logo and background must reference the high-resolution images for the branding of your app. You will need to keep the balance between the quality of the images and their size.

The duration property controls the duration that the splash screen is displayed to users in milliseconds.

Restart the app and see the splash screen displayed.


Your branding is also displayed when the user is automatically logged into the app, or when account manager is activated.


Disabling Themes in Settings

If you do not wish the theme and accent to be changed by the application users, then add settings section to the ~/touch-settings.json with theme option disabled.


Additional settings options can be disabled as needed. The property settings.disabled will prevent the user from modifying any settings.


Further Customization

If your projects requirements call for a prominient display of branding, then you can add a logo to the application toolbar with the help of CSS. Create a file under ~/touch folder with the following rule:


This result of customization is shown next.