Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Citizen Developers and the Runtime Form Designer in Magic xpa 3.1

One of my favorite new features in Magic xpa Application Platform 3.1 is that you can now make changes to the form during Runtime mode. In the past, forms were designed by developers and determined the screens seen by the end user. This is still true, but a developer interested in democratizing their application can enable the runtime form designer so that users have control in a way that makes them a kind of "citizen developer". It requires no special effort in Magic xpa by the developer because the runtime form designer features are built into the platform. Magic xpa deployment allows the user to get a highly personalized screen that uses their personal forms rather than the generic ones identified by the users. 

The Runtime Form Designer provides the citizen developer with the following end user runtime functionality:
End users gain the ability to move controls on the screen by dragging and dropping them or by using the
keyboard. You can even move controls from one tab to another.
The end user can even resize, hide (and restore) controls as well as change some of the controls’ properties, such as Color and Font. The changes can be saved for each individual user or in a central location so that they can be accessed by other similar users.

In order to create the Runtime Form Designer that the developer still had some overall control but didn't have to get bogged down in programming for the forms in runtime mode, the number of new functions in Magic xpa are kept to a minimum. Basically the developer has to make four decisions. Do I want to enable the Runtime Form Designer? Do I want users to be able to hide, unhide and delete controls? Do I want users to be able to share form designs and if so where? And how do I want to enable the user to clear the persistency of the controls?

To deal with these decisions, the Magic xpa application developer now has access to the following three new elements that are provided to use the Runtime Form Designer:

  • The OpenFormDesigner event in Magic xpa opens the Runtime Form Designer. This event has an optional parameter, Admin mode, to define whether the end user can delete controls or see hidden controls.
  • The ControlsPersistencyPath environment setting – This setting governs the location of the files generated by the Runtime Form Designer.
  • ControlsPersistencyClear function – Clears the persistency of the controls.
Click here to download the Magic xpa APplication Platform 3.1 Single User Edition

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