Introduction to testing MPF's
Integrated systems like BigSIS that store data in one place and allow you to use that data in a number of contexts offer enormous advantages over systems that store data in several places. This saves you from having to re-enter the same data (such as a person's contact information) into several places. It keeps data consistent, clean, and super flexible so it can be used and re-used across a wide variety of tools. One of the few downsides, however, is that when a tools relies on that data, the tool cannot operate when the data is empty. This is one of the issues with MPFs. MPFs are super powerful because they can pull existing data that has been stored in the system for years and display it to users so that users who are filling out the form can verify that it is still correct or update it. For example, when you send back-to-school forms out, you may request that users verify that their contact information and health records are up-to-date. The form must first display their record on file and ask the user to confirm everything is correct, otherwise update it. Many of the page items (widgets) in MPFs thus rely on real-time data they can pull from. This enormously useful convenience comes at a small cost: BigSIS is unable to generate "empty" forms for testing that are not tied to existing data. Don't worry, you can still test MPFs, you just need to learn how to tie them to data (even fake data) before they can be tested. The tutorial below will explain to you how to set up fake records so that you may test your MPFs before you send them to users.
How to test People MPFs
In order to test People MPFs, you must send yourself the test form and remember to clean up (i.e., delete) any trace of the test after the test is over (clean up is detailed in the instructions below). While in most circumstances we advise never to add fake records to your 'Live' database and recommend only doing so on your 'Testing' database (i.e., the free sandbox we offer you) this is the one exception to that rule because it is much easier to work on and test these forms on your 'Live' database (it will also save you a lot of time). As long as you clean up the fake records after testing, you'll be fine: this is a low-risk endeavor.
- Go to People > People Records. Locate your person record, then select it and click on the Other Actions button and select the Request Info about Person: Alert Person. NOTE: you will see another option to Alert Guardians, which is not to be confused with the method for sending Enrollment MPFs (i.e., forms designed to be sent to guardians so they can provide information about their children, see the tutorial titled How to create a new Multi-Page Form (MPF) to learn more about the differences). The Alert Guardians option does not send a form to guardians so they can provide information about their children like Enrollment MPFs do, rather it's just an additional option for sending People MPFs to the guardians of children. Nevertheless, both options in the People table are still sending People MPFs to these individuals so they can provide information about themselves (not their children); these options just let you send the form to either the person directly or to the guardians of any students you may have currently selected in the People table:
- This will take you to a screen titled Request Information from Person and Alert their Guardians will appear. Select New Request Batch and fill out the fields in the form. If you are not sending am email alert at this time for testing, uncheck the box Send an email alert to these users and proceed to the Create New Request Batch button at the bottom of the form:
- If do want to test the email alert, check the box Send an email alert to these users. In the part of the form titled Send Email Alert you will see a field Send From. If there is nothing in that drop-down field, then you must speak with your super admin at your school and request that they set you up with an email account in BigSIS in order to be able to send emails from BigSIS. After you enter a Send From email account and a subject line, create an email message. Then, send both the MPF form and the email alert out by clicking the Create New Request Batch button at the bottom of the form.
WARNING: If you have been following the steps above, it should be OK to send out an email alert for testing purposes since you will be sending the alert to yourself. If you have skipped any of the steps above and are testing with another person record not your own, then you may inadvertently be sending this to another real person. Just be careful and ensure you have selected your own record before sending any email alerts:
- Now it is almost time to go and play with the form itself. But first, let's make sure that the portal is set up to display these forms. Go to System > Settings > Portal Setup and look for the Multi Part Forms - Portal Tab and click on it to expand it:
- Make sure the option Show in Portal is checked and take note of the name listed in the Display Title in Portal field (by default it is Multi Part Forms but this may have been changed by your school) so that you can find the tab when you visit the portal. You may tweak this title if you wish to make it easy for users to find, some common titles used are 'School Forms,' 'Back to School Forms,' and 'Required Forms.' Click the Save button right beneath the field.
Then, locate the sub-tabs and find one that has the name Requests for Information in the title and make sure it is active, too. If the sub-tab is already active, just take note of the name listed in the Display Title in Portal field here too and then skip to the next step. If it is currently inactive, click the Show in Portal box for the sub-tab, give a name to the sub-tab in the Display Title in Portal field and then hit the Save button right beneath it.
- Go to your portal and locate the Multi Part Forms tab (remember, the name may have been tweaked). Find the sub-tab from the previous step (again, by default the name would be Requests for Information but your school may have changed the default value of that too. Now, look for the record featuring your People MPF and click the Fill out Form link:
- Finally, you will be viewing the People MPF and you are now able to test it. TIP: You may keep this page open on your browser and open up a second tab on your browser where you can go back to the People MPF settings in the BigSIS admin to make adjustments. The form in the portal updates in real-time so you can always go back to the first tab in your browser and refresh it to see and test any additional changes you have made to the People MPF
- IMPORTANT: Remember to DELETE any trace of this test. Deleting the test requires deleting:
(1) the request batch
and (2) the record of the test send
A request batch is simply a record of who has been sent a particular form and when. Since you are merely testing the form at this point, there is no real reason to keep a record of the fact that you sent the form as a test (although it isn't the end of the world if you leave this record in place, it will clutter your data and may confuse another admin in the future).
Go to Forms > Multi-Page Forms > View/Edit Enrollment and People MPFs. Locate the People MPF you have been testing, then select it and click the Edit button. While in your People MPF, locate the Request Batches sub-tab, select the batch you used as a test (if you are in the early stages of testing this form, it will probably be the only entry here) then click the Edit button from here:
- Next, you will be taken to the page that contains the records of everyone who has been sent this People MPF. Again, if you are in the testing phase, then you are very likely to see only one entry listed (the one you sent yourself). In the future, after you send out a real request, you will see many records listed here, one for each person you send the form to. For now, select the test record and delete it. After you delete it, click the Back button up at the top of the page to be taken back to the request batch page:
- Finally, select the request batch itself and remove it too: