Cloud Connected

"The only difference between Cloud CMS and your current on-premise document repository is that you don't have to worry about software or hardware installation and upgrades any longer."
Jeff Potts, Founder
Metaversant Group
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Cloud CMS Web and Mobile Forms

One of the things that Cloud CMS does really well is forms - specifically, web and mobile forms.

If you’ve ever worked with the development of forms before, you know they’re pretty tricky to put together. You typically have back-end code that is responsible for taking a data structure, validating it and writing it to a database. And you also have front-end code which does user-facing data validation that is cosmetically appealing (pretty red boxes) and helpful. You need to think about customizing the front-end controls (using JavaScript typically) to offer a compelling end-user experience while also offering an intuitive layout. Form elements need to interact together such that changes to one part of a form automatically update or validate with other parts of the form.

It gets more interesting as the requirements grow. For example, you may be asked to have your form work across multiple pages. Perhaps there is a need for a wizard with previous, next and submit buttons. Or perhaps there is conditional logic such that certain sections of a form only appear if a user selects something. Or perhaps the next button should take you to a different set of pages depending on your form’s data (such as having to fill out certain income schedules for a tax payment submission).

And across all of that, there is the question of validation and making the user interface intuitive to end users as data changes. End users should be informed of when they are allowed to proceed to the next step in a form and be shown what updates are required or how they can fix things.

All of this is usually very challenging to deliver, particularly since it requires so much front-end and back-end code that needs to be kept in sync. As such, it has been a hard problem to generalize until very recently.

In the past few years, we’ve seen some new innovations that have made this easier.

One of these innovations is JSON schema which provides a descriptive way to structure your content. You can use JSON Schema to express forms, their data attributes and how they should be validated. With JSON Schema, you can singularly describe the constraints and validation logic of your form and then have that validation run on both the client and server side. You just write it once and it applies in both places.

Other technical innovations include modularized JavaScript and JSON document databases. Modularized JavaScript and other improvements to JavaScript (including EcmaScript 5 and the pending EcmaScript 6) allow for flexible development of intelligent controls that run in the browser. This effectively allows the browser to be much more intelligent about it’s rendering and enables it to make late decisions about how to lay out the controls onto the page or bind them into wizards. This process can be driven entirely from configuration (also a JSON document) while still allowing for JS controllers and methods (packaged up into AMD modules).

Using HTML injection to build user interfaces or forms has really grown up in the world. Popular frameworks like Angular.js or Ember.js work this way. Instead of generating HTML on the back-end and passing it over to be shown in the browser, the front-end generates its own HTML using JSON data retrieved from the back-end. This allows for really beautiful user interfaces that are customized on-the-fly, per user and per device.

Cloud CMS builds on all of this to deliver really intuitive and easy web and mobile forms. We provide an open-source, JavaScript-based Cloud Forms engine that runs entirely on JSON Schema. It builds forms for you on-the-fly, using a configuration-driven approach. And it saves your form data right into Cloud CMS so that you can collaborate around it, report on it and leverage it within your business.

Several years ago, we decided to open-source our forms engine under the Apache 2.0 license so that anyone could use it within their projects. No strings attached and no funny stuff. We’re big believers in open-source. It’s not just that we want to give back, but we also believe that the open-source process is the best way to build a fantastic product.

The result was Alpaca Forms. We put a web site up and promoted releases, along with documentation, examples and community forums. The result has been amazing! We’ve watched as Alpaca has been used in all sorts of interesting projects, ranging from education and government to the entertainment and medical worlds. We’re so glad that it has helped people to deliver amazing applications!

And beyond that, we’ve really enjoyed working with the community. Such great people with interesting ideas and lots of feedback. We’ve greatly enjoyed being in touch with such a great community!

Cloud CMS continues to build and offer Cloud CMS Forms as part of its offering. Each Cloud CMS subscription comes with a fully-engaged content management system that naturally works with Alpaca’s web forms. We offer technical support, bug fixes and production-level SLA’s for Alpaca within live applications.

If you’d like to learn more about Cloud CMS forms, visit our web site or Sign up for a Free Trial.

Thanks for being part of our community!

Easy Forms with Cloud CMS

Cloud CMS lets you easily design and deploy forms for your web applications and content contributors.  In this blog entry, we’ll walk through how you can do this within the Cloud CMS Administration Console.

In this example, we’ll create a form that allows parents to register a child for a summer camp.

Add a Definition

We begin by telling Cloud CMS what a registration is.  This is a bit like defining a word in the dictionary.  We will define a “registration” and tell Cloud CMS what schema it should have.  The schema describes the properties, types, constraints and structure of the content.

When someone fills out the form, Cloud CMS can then capture the content and store it in a way that is searchable and reusable.

Within the Console, we go to our branch’s definitions and click New Definition.


We provide a few properties for our new definition including a qname which defines a unique key (kind of like a dictionary “word”) which is ours.

Now we define the schema of this definition.  Cloud CMS uses JSON Schema for content modeling.  The console provides a good JSON editor to make things easier.


This schema has 5 properties (event, name, birthday, phone and notes).  Some properties are required.  Others are not.  The event property is allowed to take on one of three values (“wobegon”, “music” or “arts”).

Now we save our definition.  Cloud CMS instantly compiles the definition with no server restarts and no downtime.  The console shows us that our definition is loaded up and ready to go.


Add a Form

So far, we’ve defined what a camp registration is.  That is to say, we’ve defined the model for a camp registration.  We now want to add a form that can be used to create new camp registration content instances.

Cloud CMS lets you have many forms for a single definition.  You might choose have one form for administration that shows all fields and gets down and dirty.  You might have another form that simplifies things, has a simple layout and is intended for parents to use on a web site.

Let’s create a simple form.  All we have to do is click on New Form.


We now provide some configuration for our form.  We can do many things here such as modify the layout, the placement of fields, plug in custom templates and configure different kinds of fields (or controls) for our field elements.

Let’s use the following configuration to customize the fields for our form:


As you can see, each field has been given a label and a type.  The type identifies which field control to use.  The Cloud CMS forms engine provides 31 out-of-the-box fields.  Here we use “select”, “text”, “date”, “phone” and “textarea”.

We now save our form.  Cloud CMS automatically compiles the form and brings it online.  The console tells us that our camp registration form is ready to go.


Create Content using our Form

Now we can create content using our form.  We can do this from within the console or from our own web applications.

In the console, we click Create Node and we pick our form.  The form is presented to us and we can begin using it.  Here is an example of our Camp Registration form partially filled out.  


Notice that Cloud CMS automatically fires validation logic for things like required files.  The Cloud CMS forms engine is very configurable and provides drop downs for selectors, date pickers, custom formatters and much more.

Learn More

In additional to content entry forms, Cloud CMS provides storage and reporting facilities for analyzing form submissions.  It provides the ideal low-cost, cloud-based backend for your business.

Interested in learning more?  

We invite you to sign up for a Cloud CMS free trial account.  It’s instant and without any pressure.  We’re ready to help you to build great apps.

Easy Forms with Cloud CMS

One of the many uses of Cloud CMS is as a storage and reporting mechanism for forms. If you’re looking to put a form up onto your web or mobile site, Cloud CMS serves as an excellent option for capturing and storing this information.

Fundamentally, Cloud CMS provides the Alpaca forms engine. Alpaca is an open-source JavaScript library for jQuery. It makes it easy to design and insert forms into your sites.

Cloud CMS built Alpaca and been working with the broader community to improve it and make it more feature complete. Alpaca provides a large library of pre-built controls.

You can easily do things like render a simple form:


Or a more complex form with multiple fields:

Alpaca provides a library of lots of field types - ranging from basic input things (text, checkbox, select, etc) all the way to full-screen text editors and Google Maps interactive fields.

You can also fully customize the layout of your forms as well as take advantage of automatic features like validation:

Once you’ve built your form, you can connect it to Cloud CMS. This lets you load and save data to/from the Cloud CMS servers. When your users submit their forms, the form data is stored in a data list.

A data list lets you see all of the records including all of the properties of the form, when it was submitted, who submitted it and more.

Data list items are regular nodes in the Cloud CMS world and so you can work with them just like any other content. For example, you might set up rules that trigger notifications, send response emails or transform content for repurposing within your business.

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