DXF Introduction

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What are Dynamic XML Forms? (DXF)

DXF is a method for quickly creating user interface pages for editing metadata. It's called "dynamic" because the HTML editing form is generated dynamically in JavaScript based on XML specification (a template) which identifies how the editing page is generated.

Each DXF Template specifies:

  • Every GUI element to be displayed on the page, including:
    • The type of GUI element (string, boolean, textarea, multiple, etc.)
    • The user-friendly label for the element (the @display) attribute)
    • The order of elements
      • The order in the template is the same as the order they are displayed on the user interface page.
    • Help text for the element for pop-up help for the user (the <dxf:help> tag)
    • How elements are grouped together into sets
      • For example, a number of nested elements which all pertain to the same object.
    • Other GUI Element attributes, like the number of columns / size of a textarea, etc.
    • Some elements can be simply for display, like headers and embedded text.
  • The XML tags which are to be generated to represent the data entered by the user.

Who Needs to Use DXF?

You will need to use DXF if you are:

  1. Creating an App Bundle which requires property settings.
    • For example, suppose you create an App Bundle which needs to talk to a database. You may want to let the user specify the JDBC URL of the database. You would specify this as a property setting specified with ${property} in your configuration file.
    • Now suppose you want to use the Aspire Admin interface to load the app bundle? You will need to specify a DXF template so that the Admin UI can present an HTML form for editing the properties of your App Bundle.
  2. Creating a connector for the Aspire connector framework which requires properties for content sources that it processes.
    • Connectors in Aspire receive their data from content sources which are configured by the Aspire Admin GUI (version 0.5 Aspire). These connectors will use DXF templates so that the user can specify properties for the content source which is to be processed, such as the source URL, whether or not to scan sub directories, file patterns to allow, file patterns to exclude, etc.
  3. (Future Release) Creating a new component with configuration properties which need to be edited in the Aspire configuration user interface.
    • At some point, components will be configurable through the Admin GUI. When this happens, every component will require a dxf.xml template so that the Admin GUI can present a nice user interface for editing the component's configuration to the user.