The Hoju Saram

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Single HTML file form designer and reader

Meetings Form in design mode ( took me 35 seconds from an empty page)

I haven't blogged much lately as I have been spending alot of my spare time working on a my latest idea. It is evolving slowly. Basically what I am attempting to create is a single html file that contains all of the code required to build and publish html forms via an easier to use UI , but without the need for a server. The idea is this.

You want some one to fill in a form, and you want to know that the form is going to be filled in properly. But you don't want to have to build a whole web site to do it or have people connect to some external site to fill in the form or pay some external site to host it. Usually you would put the form in Ms_Word or something like that but this doesn't easily allow for validating data and allows users to fiddle with the form design.

With the solution I am designing you open up a html file in your browser. You then select elements from a toolbar and place them on the form and can drag them around the form to place them where you want them. You then set the properties of them and one you are satisfied with the form you publish it. This creates a second copy of your form that you can send to others. ( When I say second copy I mean another file on your hard-disk not a post to a server ) . The second copy will be set to "run-time" mode, so when someone opens this file you will see a webform that validates according to the rules set at design time, and of course when the user saves it , it saves to their hard disk not to a web server. So they can then attach it to a mail message and send it back to you (as they would a word document).

I don't think I have explained this very well. But maybe some pictures will help. I currently almost finished the "design-time" components and I am at a stage where I can add form elements from the toolbox, set their properties, and have all the elements serialise and deserialise themselves ( this basically means that when I press "save" the file saves, and when I re-open the file all the elements properties are re-loaded correctly).

I have now have to work on what the user will see after the form has been published, but that is relatively easy, so I should have something ready for use within a week or 2. So watch for some action.

Click on a element to set the properties (The select one is a time range form element)

The toolbox menu expanded.

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