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.
Testing your Enrollment MPF:
In order to test Enrollment MPFs, you must simulate being either a parent of a student or the student themselves depending on how you plan to use the form (if you plan to send it to parents of student, you must simulate being a parent of a student, if you plan to send it to students directly, you must simulate being a student). This means you need to create a fake student record. 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 Students > Quick Add Student and fill out the form that is launched. The illustrations below highlight the important fields you need to fill out. Make sure you check the box to admit the student and admit them to the term in question (ideally, the same term you will use when you ultimately send out the finalized form to real parents; you want to simulate as many of the conditions that will be present when you send out the MPF for real). When you get to the fields where you enter parent/guardian information, select Existing Person and enter yourself:
- After creating (A) an Enrollment MPF to test and (B) a fake student, go to Students > Enrollments. Locate the fake student by searching for them:
- Select the student, then click on the Other Actions button and select the Request Info (Alert Guardian) about Enrollment:
- This will take you to a screen titled Request Information about Enrollment and Alert their Guardians will appear. Select New Request Batch and fill out the fields in the form. If you are not sending an 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 you 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 student (i.e., not the fake student) then you may inadvertently be sending this to real parents or students. This is why it is best to follow the steps outlined above and create a fake student and make yourself the parent of that student as instruction above:
- 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 Parents and Guardians - Portal Tab and click on it to expand it:
- From there, locate the sub-tabs and then find Parents and Guardians > Requests for Information and make sure it is active. If the sub-tab is already active, just take note of the name listed in the Display Title in Portal field and then skip to the next step (by default, the name in that field is Requests for Information, but your school may have changed this to something else. If it is currently inactive, click the Show in Portal box, give a name to the tab in the Display Title in Portal field and then hit the Save button right beneath it:
- Go to your portal and locate the Parents and Guardians tab. 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). Now, look for the record featuring your Enrollment MPF and click the Fill out Form link:
- Click the Claim button on the next screen:
- Finally, you will be viewing the Enrollment 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 Enrollment 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 Enrollment MPF:
- IMPORTANT: Remember to DELETE any trace of this test. Deleting the test requires deleting:
(1) the fake student record
(2) the request batch
and (3) the record of the test send
The first thing to delete is the fake student record after you are done testing to reduce data clutter from your database (we don't recommend storing bad or fake data in there permanently alongside your real data). Go to Students > Student Records to locate the fake student record and delete it:
- Next (these are less important to delete but it is still good to do so), for an extra thorough cleaning, it wouldn't hurt to delete the test request and the test request batch too so that when you do finally send a real request to real parents to fill out the form, you won't have this fake test one cluttering anything up. 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 Enrollment MPF you have been testing, then select it and click the "Edit" button. While in your Enrollment 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 Enrollment 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: