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Handling Submitted Forms

Web-based applications that enable a user to fill in interactive forms require the data to be submitted back to the server. Using the Forms service, you can retrieve the data that the user entered into an interactive form. After you retrieve the data, you can process the data to meet your business requirements. For example, you can store the data in a database, send the data to another application, send the data to another service, merge the data in a form design, display the data in a web browser, and so on.

Form data is submitted to the Forms service as either XML or PDF data, which is an option that is set in Designer. A form that is submitted as XML enables you to extract individual field data values. That is, you can extract the value of each form field that the user entered into the form. A form that is submitted as PDF data is binary data, not XML data. You can save the form as a PDF file, or send the form to another service. If you want to extract data from a form submitted as XML and then use the form data to create a PDF document, invoke another AEM Forms operation. (See Creating PDF Documents with Submitted XML Data)

The following diagram shows data being submitted to a Java Servlet named HandleData from an interactive form displayed in a web browser.

hs_hs_HandleSubmit

The following table explains the steps in the diagram.

Step

Description

1

A user fills in an interactive form and clicks the form’s Submit button.

2

Data is submitted to the HandleData Java Servlet as XML data.

3

The HandleData Java Servlet contains application logic to retrieve the data.

Handling submitted XML data

When form data is submitted as XML, you can retrieve XML data that represents the submitted data. All form fields appear as nodes in an XML schema. The node values correspond to the values that the user filled in. Consider a loan form where each field in the form appears as a node within the XML data. The value of each node corresponds to the value that a user fills in. Assume a user fills the loan form with data shown in the following form.

hs_hs_loanFormData

The following illustration shows corresponding XML data that is retrieved by using the Forms service Client API.

hs_hs_loanData
The fields in the loan form. These values can be retrieved using Java XML classes.

Note:

The form design must be configured correctly in Designer for data to be submitted as XML data. To properly configure the form design to submit XML data, ensure that the Submit button that is located on the form design is set to submit XML data. For information about setting the Submit button to submit XML data, seeAEM Forms Designer.

Handling submitted PDF data

Consider a web application that invokes the Forms service. After the Forms service renders an interactive PDF form to a client web browser, the user fills in the form and submits it back as PDF data. When the Forms service receives the PDF data, it can send the PDF data to another service or save it as a PDF file. The following diagram shows the application’s logic flow.

hs_hs_SavingForms

The following table describes the steps in this diagram.

Step

Description

1

A web page contains a link that accesses a Java Servlet that invokes the Forms service.

2

The Forms service renders an interactive PDF form to the client web browser.

3

The user fills in an interactive form and clicks a submit button. The form is submitted back to the Forms service as PDF data. This option is set in Designer.

4

The Forms service saves the PDF data as a PDF file.

Handling submitted URL UTF-16 data

If form data is submitted as URL UTF-16 data, the client computer requires Adobe Reader or Acrobat 8.1 or later. Also if the form design contains a submit button that has URL-encoded Data (HTTP Post) and the data encoding option is UTF-16, the form design must be modified in a text editor such as Notepad. You can set the encoding option to either UTF-16LE or UTF-16BE for the submit button. Designer does not provide this functionality.

Note:

For more information about the Forms service, see Services Reference for AEM Forms.

Summary of steps

To handle submitted forms, perform the following tasks:

  1. Include project files.

  2. Create a Forms Client API object.

  3. Retrieve form data.

  4. Determine if the form submission contains file attachments.

  5. Process the submitted data.

Include project files

Include necessary files into your development project. If you are creating a client application using Java, include the necessary JAR files. If you are using web services, ensure that you include the proxy files.

Create a Forms Client API object

Before you can programmatically perform a Forms service Client API operation, you must create a Forms service client. If you are using the Java API, create a FormsServiceClient object. If you are using the Forms web service API, create a FormsService object.

Retrieve form data

To retrieve submitted form data, you invoke the FormsServiceClient object’s processFormSubmission method. When invoking this method, you have to specify the submitted form’s content type. When data is submitted from a client web browser to the Forms service, it can be submitted as either XML or PDF data. To retrieve the data that is entered into form fields, the data can be submitted as XML data.

You can also retrieve form fields from a form submitted as PDF data by setting the following run-time options:

  • Pass the following value to the processFormSubmission method as the content type parameter: CONTENT_TYPE=application/pdf.

  • Set the RenderOptionsSpec object’s PDFToXDP value to true

  • Set the RenderOptionsSpec object’s ExportDataFormat value to XMLData

You specify the content type of the submitted form when you invoke the processFormSubmission method. The following list specifies applicable content type values:

  • text/xml: Represents the content type to use when a PDF form submits form data as XML.

  • application/x-www-form-urlencoded: Represents the content type to use when an HTML form submits data as XML.

  • application/pdf: Represents the content type to use when a PDF form submits data as PDF.

Note:

You will notice that there are three corresponding quick starts associated with the Handling Submitted Forms section. The Handling PDF forms submitted as PDF using the Java API quick start demonstrates how to handle submitted PDF data. The content type specified in this quick start is application/pdf. The Handling PDF forms submitted as XML using the Java API quick start demonstrates how to handle submitted XML data that is submitted from a PDF form. The content type specified in this quick start is text/xml. Likewise, the Handling HTML forms submitted as XML using the Java API quick start demonstrates how to handle submitted XML data that is submitted from an HTML form. The content type specified in this quick start is application/x-www-form-urlencoded.

You retrieve form data that was posted to the Forms service and determine its processing state. That is, when data is submitted to the Forms service, it does not necessarily mean that the Forms service is finished processing the data and the data is ready to be processed. For example, data can be submitted to the Forms service so that a calculation can be performed. When the calculation is complete, the form is rendered back to the user with the calculation results displayed. Before you process submitted data, it is recommended that you determine whether the Forms service has finished processing the data.

The Forms service returns the following values to indicate whether it has finished processing the data:

  • 0 (Submit): Submitted data is ready to be processed.

  • 1 (Calculate): The Forms service performed a calculation operation on the data and the results must be rendered back to the user.

  • 2 (Validate): The Forms service validated form data and the results must be rendered back to the user.

  • 3 (Next): The current page has changed with results that must be written to the client application.

  • 4 (Previous): The current page has changed with results that must be written to the client application.

Note:

Calculations and validations must be rendered back to the user. (See Calculating Form Data.)

Determine if the form submission contains file attachments

Forms submitted to the Forms service can contain file attachments. For example, using Acrobat’s built-in attachment pane, a user can select file attachments to submit along with the form. As well, a user can also select file attachments using an HTML toolbar that is rendered with an HTML file.

After you determine if a form contains file attachments, you can process the data. For example, you can save the file attachment to the local file system.

Note:

The form must be submitted as PDF data in order to retrieve file attachments. If the form is submitted as XML data, file attachments are not submitted.

Process the submitted data

Depending on the content type of the submitted data, you can extract individual form field values from the submitted XML data or save the submitted PDF data as a PDF file (or send it to another service). To extract individual form fields, convert submitted XML data to an XML data source and then retrieve XML data source values by using org.w3c.dom classes.

See also

Handle submitted forms using the Java API

Handle a submitted form by using the Forms API (Java):

  1. Include project files

    Include client JAR files, such as adobe-forms-client.jar, in your Java project’s class path.

  2. Create a Forms Client API object

    • Create a ServiceClientFactory object that contains connection properties.

    • Create an FormsServiceClient object by using its constructor and passing the ServiceClientFactory object.

  3. Retrieve form data

    • To retrieve form data that was posted to a Java Servlet, create a com.adobe.idp.Document object by using its constructor and invoking the javax.servlet.http.HttpServletResponse object’s getInputStream method from within the constructor.

    • Create a RenderOptionsSpec object by using its constructor. Set the locale value by invoking the RenderOptionsSpec object’s setLocale method and passing a string value that specifies the locale value.

    Note:

    You can instruct the Forms service to create XDP or XML data from submitted PDF content by invoking the RenderOptionsSpec object’s setPDF2XDP method and passing true and also calling setXMLData and passing true. You can then invoke the FormsResult object’s getOutputXML method to retrieve the XML data that corresponds to the XDP/XML data. (The FormsResult object is returned by the processFormSubmission method, which is explained in the next sub-step.)

    • Invoke the FormsServiceClient object’s processFormSubmission method and pass the following values:

      • The com.adobe.idp.Document object that contains the form data.

      • A string value that specifies environment variables including all relevant HTTP headers. Specify the content type to handle. To handle XML data, specify the following string value for this parameter: CONTENT_TYPE=text/xml. To handle PDF data, specify the following string value for this parameter: CONTENT_TYPE=application/pdf.

      • A string value that specifies the HTTP_USER_AGENT header value, for example, .Mozilla/4.0 (compatible; MSIE 6.0; Windows NT 5.1; SV1; .NET CLR 1.1.4322). This parameter value is optional.

      • A RenderOptionsSpec object that stores run-time options.

      The processFormSubmission method returns a FormsResult object containing the results of the form submission.

    • Determine whether the Forms service is finished processing the form data by invoking the FormsResult object’s getAction method. If this method returns the value 0, the data is ready to be processed.

  4. Determine if the form submission contains file attachments

    • Invoke the FormsResult object’s getAttachments method. This method returns a java.util.List object that contains files that were submitted with the form.

    • Iterate through the java.util.List object to determine if there are file attachments. If there are file attachments, each element is a com.adobe.idp.Document instance. You can save the file attachments by invoking the com.adobe.idp.Document object’s copyToFile method and passing a java.io.File object.

    Note:

    This step is only applicable if the form is submitted as PDF.

  5. Process the submitted data

    • If the data content type is application/vnd.adobe.xdp+xml or text/xml, create application logic to retrieve XML data values.

      • Create a com.adobe.idp.Document object by invoking the FormsResult object’s getOutputContent method.

      • Create a java.io.InputStream object by invoking the java.io.DataInputStream constructor and passing the com.adobe.idp.Document object.

      • Create an org.w3c.dom.DocumentBuilderFactory object by calling the static org.w3c.dom.DocumentBuilderFactory object’s newInstance method.

      • Create an org.w3c.dom.DocumentBuilder object by invoking the org.w3c.dom.DocumentBuilderFactory object’s newDocumentBuilder method.

      • Create an org.w3c.dom.Document object by invoking the org.w3c.dom.DocumentBuilder object’s parse method and passing the java.io.InputStream object.

      • Retrieve the value of each node within the XML document. One way to accomplish this task is to create a custom method that accepts two parameters: the org.w3c.dom.Document object and the name of the node whose value you want to retrieve. This method returns a string value representing the value of the node. In the code example that follows this process, this custom method is called getNodeText. The body of this method is shown.

    • If the data content type is application/pdf, create application logic to save the submitted PDF data as a PDF file.

      • Create a com.adobe.idp.Document object by invoking the FormsResult object’s getOutputContent method.

      • Create a java.io.File object by using its public constructor. Be sure to specify PDF as the file name extension.

      • Populate the PDF file by invoking the com.adobe.idp.Document object’s copyToFile method and passing the java.io.File object.

See also

Handle submitted PDF data using the web service API

Handle a submitted form by using the Forms API (web service):

  1. Include project files

    • Create Java proxy classes that consume the Forms service WSDL.

    • Include the Java proxy classes into your class path.

  2. Create a Forms Client API object

    Create a FormsService object and set authentication values.

  3. Retrieve form data

    • To retrieve form data that was posted to a Java Servlet, create a BLOB object by using its constructor.

    • Create a java.io.InputStream object by invoking the javax.servlet.http.HttpServletResponse object’s getInputStream method.

    • Create a java.io.ByteArrayOutputStream object by using its constructor and passing the length of the java.io.InputStream object.

    • Copy the contents of the java.io.InputStream object into the java.io.ByteArrayOutputStream object.

    • Create a byte array by invoking the java.io.ByteArrayOutputStream object’s toByteArray method.

    • Populate the BLOB object by invoking its setBinaryData method and passing the byte array as an argument.

    • Create a RenderOptionsSpec object by using its constructor. Set the locale value by invoking the RenderOptionsSpec object’s setLocale method and passing a string value that specifies the locale value.

    • Invoke the FormsService object’s processFormSubmission method and pass the following values:

      • The BLOB object that contains the form data.

      • A string value that specifies environment variables including all relevant HTTP headers. Specify the content type to handle. To handle XML data, specify the following string value for this parameter: CONTENT_TYPE=text/xml. To handle PDF data, specify the following string value for this parameter: CONTENT_TYPE=application/pdf.

      • A string value that specifies the HTTP_USER_AGENT header value; for example, Mozilla/4.0 (compatible; MSIE 6.0; Windows NT 5.1; SV1; .NET CLR 1.1.4322).

      • A RenderOptionsSpec object that stores run-time options.

      • An empty BLOBHolder object that is populated by the method.

      • An empty javax.xml.rpc.holders.StringHolder object that is populated by the method.

      • An empty BLOBHolder object that is populated by the method.

      • An empty BLOBHolder object that is populated by the method.

      • An empty javax.xml.rpc.holders.ShortHolder object that is populated by the method.

      • An empty MyArrayOf_xsd_anyTypeHolder object that is populated by the method. This parameter is used to store file attachments that are submitted along with the form.

      • An empty FormsResultHolder object that is populated by the method with the form that is submitted.

      The processFormSubmission method populates the FormsResultHolder parameter with the results of the form submission.

    • Determine whether the Forms service is finished processing the form data by invoking the FormsResult object’s getAction method. If this method returns the value 0, the form data is ready to be processed. You can get a FormsResult object by getting the value of the FormsResultHolder object’s value data member.

  4. Determine if the form submission contains file attachments

    Get the value of the MyArrayOf_xsd_anyTypeHolder object’s value data member (the MyArrayOf_xsd_anyTypeHolder object was passed to the processFormSubmission method). This data member returns an array of Objects. Each element within the Object array is an Object that corresponds to the files that were submitted along with the form. You can get each element within the array and cast it to a BLOB object.

  5. Process the submitted data

    • If the data content type is application/vnd.adobe.xdp+xml or text/xml, create application logic to retrieve XML data values.

      • Create a BLOB object by invoking the FormsResult object’s getOutputContent method.

      • Create a byte array by invoking the BLOB object’s getBinaryData method.

      • Create a java.io.InputStream object by invoking the java.io.ByteArrayInputStream constructor and passing the byte array.

      • Create an org.w3c.dom.DocumentBuilderFactory object by calling the static org.w3c.dom.DocumentBuilderFactory object’s newInstance method.

      • Create an org.w3c.dom.DocumentBuilder object by invoking the org.w3c.dom.DocumentBuilderFactory object’s newDocumentBuilder method.

      • Create an org.w3c.dom.Document object by invoking the org.w3c.dom.DocumentBuilder object’s parse method and passing the java.io.InputStream object.

      • Retrieve the value of each node within the XML document. One way to accomplish this task is to create a custom method that accepts two parameters: the org.w3c.dom.Document object and the name of the node whose value you want to retrieve. This method returns a string value representing the value of the node. In the code example that follows this process, this custom method is called getNodeText. The body of this method is shown.

    • If the data content type is application/pdf, create application logic to save the submitted PDF data as a PDF file.

      • Create a BLOB object by invoking the FormsResult object’s getOutputContent method.

      • Create a byte array by invoking the BLOB object’s getBinaryData method.

      • Create a java.io.File object by using its public constructor. Be sure to specify PDF as the file name extension.

      • Create a java.io.FileOutputStream object by using its constructor and passing the java.io.File object.

      • Populate the PDF file by invoking the java.io.FileOutputStream object’s write method and passing the byte array.

See also

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