Some New Little Features

Little update:

  • Keyword fields can now have numbers as well as text. So you can make a field (perhaps GST?) that is a drop down with both numbers like 0.06, 0.05 and text like “NA”. This is nicer, because views can total numbers.
  • Also added a view word asNumber to take a string like “3.14” and convert it into a number 3.14
  • Also added a view word today which returns today’s date. It’s like the word now, but doesn’t include the current time.
  • Also improved date equality, so you can say things like [/my-datetime-field] today = in views to determine if the field refers to today. Useful for views that should only show data relevant to today (like a todo list).

A Big Update:

Internally, FormLis uses a new security model. Previously my security model was some heuristic code that looked at the document owner and who you were to decide your permissions.

The new model uses database backed rules. Long term this will let users customize security. For example, granting some group administrative access, while restricting others.

The catch is there is no interface to this yet, nor an interface to specify groups. So you’re stuck with the default security, which exactly imitate the old system — you won’t notice any changes.

More FormLis Speedups

In an earlier post I reported some FormLis Speedups. I’m happy to report further speed ups.

Now I’ve sped up FormLis further by reducing the amount HTTP requests. I did it by:

Before the changes, a page needed ~6 requests (the page, 2-5 images, 2-3 css files). Now it’s about ~3 requests: the page, a single css file, and 1 sprite sheet and the css and sprite sheet get cached so future pages don’t ask for them.

The pingdom test showed that it took about .6 milliseconds to get the page, and then another .8 to get the CSS and sprite sheet. Once those are cached FormLis can display a page in about .6 seconds compared to about 2 seconds before — a 4x speed increase.

Fixed Some IE rendering problems.

Recently I had to demo FormLis on Internet Explorer, and (horrors!) it didn’t look right at all. My HTML is standards compliant, and super simple to achieve portability. But I guess I should have tested it on Internet Explorer. Heres what it should look like:

What FormLis should look like

What FormLis should look like

It looks proper on IE8 now, but I don’t have access to IE7 and earlier. However I’ve found, which can generate previews of a page under different browsers. I’ll have to see how many I can get.

The problem was that IE doesn’t treat HTML5 tags as generic block elements even though the web standards say it should.

FormLis Speedups

I’ve made some recent improvements to FormLis in preparation for adding user security features.

Speed Improvements
FormLis responds sooner; Long pages and reports seem much quicker because you get the first paragraphs/rows almost immediately.
Cookies Not Required
Persons who’ve disable cookies (e.g. for privacy) will still be able to use FormLis, with no loss of features.

As I said, I’ll be working towards adding user security features to let you customize which users can read, edit and/or delete pages and reports. Sometimes its important to keep collected data private.

Sat, Jan 8 2011: I’ve sped up the site further, see my post on reducing http requests.

New FormLis Features

I recently pushed through some changes to FormLis. Here is a list of new features:

  • Changed the sites look and feel (I saw an opportunity to make it simpler, and I took it. Risk paid off)
  • Changed the editor to make it easier to customize fields, build tables, etc
  • Updated the FormLis manual to cover the new editor
  • Pages can now have tables
  • Forms can now have subforms (including repeatable subforms)
  • Pages can change the font color
  • Pages can have underline & strike through text
  • It’s now easier to create nice looking links
  • Added new field types:
    • Multiple Select Box
    • Check boxes
    • Radio Buttons
    • Repeating Subforms
    • Repeating subform tables (i.e. you put fields in the table, and the last row becomes a repeatable template — its just a repeating subform but mixed into a table).
    • Email fields

There were also, you know, bugs squashed, things of that nature. I’m thinking of marketing it as a Wiki with built in database, forms and reports — because that’s what it actually is. Using it I can build web based CRUD applications in no time. An application I had made for a client from scratch in 6 weeks, took only 5 minutes in FormLis.

FormLis Enters Beta!

I’m very happy to report that FormLis is now in Beta stage. A lot has changed under the hood, and the system is more stable, powerful and faster than before.

It is a business application that is designed to help businesses track the ‘little data’ that gets lost along the way; to this end it combines a wiki with an easy to use database maker.

You can use FormLis as an internal wiki, and then you can easily add in forms. And when you use FormLis for data collecton, then you don’t have to write SQL, buy and setup a server, write an interface or any of that drudgery.

  1. FormLis makes creating data collection forms REALLY easy. Changing them later is just as easy.
  2. FormLis can create views of the collected data with grouping, sorting, totals, and computation.
  3. Use FormLis, and your data is automatically backed up.
  4. Your applications are integrated into a wiki like environment. Combine documentation, reports and data entry forms in one convenient place.
  5. FormLis works on the web, at home, at the office, at the job site, and on your ipad
  6. User Accounts let you customize who can see and edit what


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