Yes, those concerns are always credible, and we've worked around some concerns, especially related to validation.  WFG itself has pretty hokey, non-accessible validation built in.  But we experimented with it and discovered we could do pretty much whatever we wanted with the form code, so we could use Javascript validation, .net validation, or we could build something server-side. 

There are definitely trade-offs, as with any development tool.  For example we want to redirect a user to a One Stop page upon submission ( "Thanks for submitting the form, and here are the expectations of when your appeal will be resolved.")  When we add the redirect out of the WFG system, the whole form gets wrapped in a frame. Yuck. We complained to the vendor on that one. That's certainly not ideal, but on the whole, we've found we have pretty direct access to the markup.  


On Fri, Jan 22, 2010 at 12:33 PM, Zachary Johnson <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
Sounds pretty interesting.  When I hear "pre-existing .net tool" my experience immediately makes me wonder about customizing form markup, validation, error states, javascript hooks, etc.  Often it seems to be the case that you get point-and-click DW routing or whatever at the expense of form usability and accessibility that looks like it was hacked together in 2001.  Any credibility to my concerns with this particular solution?


Santiago Fernandez-Gimenez wrote:
Regarding the pre-populating of form data:

One Stop has tons of paper / pdf forms that need automation. Most of them include sensitive information. After a pretty detailed analysis Academic Support Resources determined that the type of software we needed to solve the "forms" quandary was generically called "workflow" software— automating the form is fairly trivial, but routing the data and doing the work was difficult to solve securely. The Graduate School and Disability Services, with a SPIF grant, had purchased a tool called "Workflow Gen", and after comparing it with some business criteria, we determined it was worth giving it a try, so we've been piloting it this year.  It is not an "Enterprise" tool at this time, so each unit that participates is sharing the costs.

WorkflowGen provides a web-based process management interface that plugs into a .net form.  You have to build the .net form in Visual Studio, so hold your nose if you're a MS hater. MS antipathy aside, we have found that the tool is pretty efficient and opens the door to real service and process improvement.
   * Form authentication is via the CAH hub.
   * We are pre-populating the forms with appropriate data from the DW,
     providing students the opportunity to vett their PeopleSoft
     information, and linking to the "personal information" application
     if they see something out of date.    * We can pull in data from the DW that is not visible on the form,
     and use that for routing logic.    * Someone with a "business analyst" skill-set can plot out the
     routing of a form with conditional logic and notifications via a
     point and click interface.    * Someone with a "junior-developer" skill-set can build the form in
     .net and template the email responses.  
There is a collaborative consortium / user group on campus funding and using this tool, but based on our brief pilot experience, we are advocating for this tool, or some sort of generic workflow tool like it, to be adopted as a common good for the enterprise.

If you want to find out more about the tool, send an email to our User Group listserve:  [log in to unmask] <mailto:[log in to unmask]>. We have tons of documentation if you want to hear more.

Sorry I missed the meeting. Sounds very interesting!


Santiago Fernández-Giménez
information architect / web project manager
Academic Support Resources
University of Minnesota - Twin Cities

[log in to unmask] <mailto:[log in to unmask]>

On Fri, Jan 22, 2010 at 7:26 AM, Peter Wiringa <[log in to unmask] <mailto:[log in to unmask]>> wrote:

   Here are a few notes from my end and some questions for the group.

   It sounded liked there was interest in a central repository of form
   information and including some basic form styles and elements in the
   templates would be useful. A general feedback form seems like a good
   starting point. What other types of form or multi-element form parts
   (i.e. EFS) might be good to include and would serve a broad audience?

   For those of you using a tool to help generate forms and client-side
   or server-side validation, what tools are you using? Web Form
   Factory may be generating again and provides a solid start for
   simple forms, as a I recall (PHP only).

   On utilizing central authentication and LDAP to improve the UX of
   form by pre-populating info, it doesn't seem like we landed on
   anything with regard to security considerations. If someone is
   signed in, and would be forced to sign in if they weren't, what are
   the issues with pre-populating fields using information about the
   user that's publicly available in LDAP? Here's an example of what
   might be returned.

   Anyone from OIT Security on the list who can shed some light on this?

   As Chris suggested, you could attempt to pre-populate fields for
   logged in users, but not requiring people to login. Switch to HTTPS,
   get their cookieauth cookie, run it up against the central auth hub
   to get their Internet ID, and then query that. Are there different
   security implications for pre-populating fields in this case?

   Of course, directory-suppressed students won't be found in public
   searches of LDAP.

   Central auth info

   Accessible anti-spam techniques

   Good read on validation

   --    Peter Wiringa
   Electronic Communications
   University Relations
   University of Minnesota
   (612) 625-3252
   [log in to unmask] <mailto:[log in to unmask]>

   "I gotta hold on to my angst. I preserve it because I need it. It
   keeps me sharp, on the edge, where I gotta be." - V. Hanna

Zachary Johnson * Web Manager
Student Unions & Activities
(612) 624 - 7270

Santiago Fernández-Giménez
information architect / web project manager
Academic Support Resources
University of Minnesota - Twin Cities

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