This article will cover the following topics:
Thus far, what you’ve created is sort of an empty shell. The form is technically created, but it’s blank. There are two types of tools you will use to build this form: Layout Items and Fields. There are also two ways of organizing your form: Ordering and Flex Length.
We've already seen our example in its published form, but below is that same example from the Edit Custom Form view. This is what the form looks like before it's published. This guide is going to walk you through each of the steps that lead us up to this point, from how to organize the form, to what fields make the most sense to store this data.
Layout Items help you organize your Custom Form so it looks nice and makes sense to the person filling out the form. Notice the the table above where we built the Custom Form. The fields are all vertical. We have to tell BigSIS how we want them to look once the Custom Form is generated. That's where Layout Items come in.
There are four kinds of Layout Items:
Headers: Are titles that help divide each section of the form.
Information Box: Allows you to include static text to explain the form in more detail.
Start Row: Indicates a new row of fields (not actually visible in the form).
End Row: Indicates the end of a row of fields (not actually visible in the form).
Just to get to this article, you had to use some kind of fields. Fields are what comprise a form, they're versatile, powerful, and you have a lot of options to choose from. Earlier, when we were discussing how to plan your form, we mentioned the importance of choosing the right field. Below is a list of the most common fields in BigSIS, how they work, and some examples of when to use them.
Types of Fields
- Checkbox: Checkboxes ask an end-user for a "yes" or "no" answer. In our example, "Women's Hurdling" is checked because the end-user is indicating, "yes, my child is signing up for the Women's Hurdling event." The unchecked boxes mean the guardian is not signing the student up for those events.
Best Use: Checkboxes are great because you can select multiple "yes" options. In the example form, a user can select multiple events instead of choosing only one. Do not make checkboxes required for "yes" or "no" entries. A checkbox should almost always be an optional field for users when using them in a Custom Form. However, due to the simplicity of the data the collect, these response are very easy to filter by.
- Radio Button List: A radio button is also a "yes" or "no" answer except only one option can be chosen at a time. An example of a radio button list is the "Physical Examination Complete" field in the example form. You can only select "yes" or "no," not both.
Best Use: Anytime you need a definite answer. For example, if I asked "what is your favorite color?" on a form, I wouldn't want my user to respond "orange" and "green" because that's not what the form was asking. These fields are excellent for required "yes" or "no" entries because a user will be required to select one, whereas a user can skip past a checkbox without engaging with it because, by default, an unchecked checkbox is a "no" response. This field type is very easy to filter by as well.
- Textbox: This is a blank field where a user can type whatever they want. For example, a "Name" field would be a textbox because you would have type in your name.
Best Use: Whenever you're collecting highly specified data from a person that can't easily be selected from a list. Due to in inconsistency of this data, this field is not good for filtering.
- Multi-Line Textbox: This field is exactly like a textbox only bigger. The "Note" field in the example form is a multi-line textbox.
Best Use: Works great for Note Fields or for answers to supplemental questions on public forms.
- Drop-Down List: You've probably encountered these often. It's a field with a drop-down arrow and, when you click the arrow, a list of options presents itself.
Best Use: Whenever you need a user to select a specific option. You could achieve the same goal with a radio button list, but a drop-down will save you a lot of space on your form since the options only display when the drop-down arrow is clicked. Great for filtering because the values are set and a user can only select one.
- Self-Building List: These are like drop-down menu and textbox hybrids. Whereas in a drop-down, you have set choices, a self-building list allows you to enter new choices on the fly.
Best Use: These can be difficult to keep consistent and should only be used on internal forms. Use this field with caution! For example, if you ask "What is your favorite color" and there's already a value in the list that's "orange," but a user types in "oragne," you'll end up with a new value in your list called "oragne" and that can get messy!
- Date Input Box: This is a little field that, when clicked, populates a little calendar where a user can select a date, or they can type on in.
Best Use: Anytime a user will need to enter a date. These are great for filtering since the data is consistent and the system will recognize the value as a date, which means you could potentially even filter for a date range, or entries before or after a certain date.
Ordering tells BigSIS the order in which Items should appear. You'll see this field frequently around BigSIS. The order is important because it lets you control how items are listed. When you create a new Item (whether Custom Field, Layout Item, Matrix Item etc), an order number will automatically be assigned to that item in intervals of 10. The reason they’re in intervals of 10 is so you have room to add additional Items in between existing Items. If you decide you want to put a new checkbox in between an item with an order number of 10 and another with an order number of 20, you can change the order number of the new field to 15 and that will put it in between those two fields. The same concept applies to Evaluation Matrices, and just about every table in BigSIS. You can find the Order field, but editing, or creating different kinds of Items throughout the system.
Whenever you add a new Field or Layout Item, you'll see a field called Flex Length. The Flex Length tells BigSIS how much space a Custom Field or Layout Item should take up when they are all in a row. For example, if there are 3 fields in a row and the first field has a flex length of 2, whereas the other fields have a flex length of 1, the first field will take up twice as much space as the other 2 field.
Note: A trick to getting all of your fields to "sqush" to the left-side of the form is to increase the Flex Length of the last field in the row. If the last field is taking up more space than the rest of the field, it will push everything over to the left.
Example 1: Options 1 - 4 have a Flex Length of 1
Example 2: Options 1 - 3 have a Flex Length of 1, but Option 4 has a flex length of 4
Now, you're ready to start building your form!