August 30, 2016
  |   Adobe Experience Cloud, Technical Development

AEM Forms: Technology and Architecture Overview

We’ve all filled out a lot of forms in our lifetime, with various levels of complexity, from a simple ‘contact me’ to your IRS tax return.  If you’ve gone through the process of submitting taxes, you know it’s an involved task. There is the pre-work before you can even submit the actual forms (gathering your personal information, deciding which forms are needed). And then the work you do while completing the forms for submission (field A has to match field G). The point of this example is that the development of this process – to submit a form to the IRS – has many working parts that had to be created and linked together. AEM Forms is one of the best systems to complete this task.

In this post, we’ll go over the technology and inner workings behind AEM forms. This will give you a better idea about how they are set up in an AEM system and you can begin to understand the best ways to effectively utilize them.

AEM Forms OSGi and AEM Forms JEE

There are two implementations of AEM Forms: AEM Forms OSGi and AEM Forms JEE. AEM Forms OSGi is essentially a version of the Adobe LiveCycle platform re-architected into OSGi. AEM forms JEE is a re-branded legacy version of LiveCycle.

Beginning with AEM 6.1, the AEM Forms module has most of the functionality available in AEM Forms JEE, with the exception of forms workflow and document security.

If you are trying to migrate forms and workflows from a LiveCycle instance into AEM, depending on your current site architecture and how many forms you have, you’ll want to start by migrating to AEM Forms JEE. Otherwise, you’ll have to re-author your forms to be adaptive forms within AEM Forms OSGi.

Features on OSGi Stack

A number of new services and utilities have been introduced to run within the OSGi stack of AEM Forms. As of AEM 6.1, the AEM Forms module brings in several enhancements in adaptive forms to simplify authoring of forms and enhance the form filling experience. You now have the ability to:

    • Create reusable form components (form fragments) that will be available in the Content Finder. Form fragments help save significant authoring time and effort by bringing re-usability and consistency among adaptive forms.
    • Create responsive and dynamic tables to present complex data with configurable layouts for mobile devices.
    • Define the styling of individual adaptive form components using inline CSS properties. Or create custom client libraries for specific styles within your forms.
    • Utilize Adobe Test and Target to perform A/B tests on adaptive forms for better conversion.
    • Configure auto-generation of document of record (DoR) for non-XFA adaptive forms.
    • Export forms and assets via a package or as a zip file.
    • Import forms and assets via a package, zip file, or as individual files (such as a PDF).

Submitting Forms

Adaptive forms are a key part of the AEM Forms module. An important piece of forms is exactly where that data goes and what you do with it. With AEM Forms you can configure what action to take upon submit and what parameters to pass. For example, you can submit to a REST endpoint, perform an email action, or submit to a workflow. In addition you can write custom submit actions, making it extremely flexible and tailored towards what you are trying to accomplish.

Moving Ahead

AEM forms OSGi is the future for AEM Forms and Adobe seems to be slowly trying to move people away from LiveCycle into it. Slowly the AEM Forms module is integrating into AEM and it’s expected that Adobe will only continue to build the project. Read the next article in the series about the benefit of reusability.

Interested in speaking with an expert about AEM Forms? Contact us today.

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