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Data input application no longer works with upgraded server

We've upgraded our Domino server to R6.5.13. The application that allowed users to input (as opposed to just read) data no longer works properly. If a user does not enter all required information, they are prompted by a standard validation formula to enter the missing information. Hitting the Back button, they find the original form blank, and all their previously entered data gone.

I tested a simplified form locally with an R5 client and an R6 client (so the nhttp.exe task runs). It works when tested locally in a browser from my R5 client. I then close the R5 client, which shuts down the nhttp.exe task. Then I started R6 and tested the form in the browser. With R6 it failed.

Since our customers are starting to come up with ways to leverage our ability to input information from a browser into our Lotus Notes systems, this issue will soon become a high priority.

I've noticed this too, and I'm not sure what causes it. I would look at the headings on the HTML to see whether there's an expiration time set, or something along those lines, that is telling the browser to reload the form rather than redisplaying the page you left with the data still on it.

However, input validation formulas are a poor way of doing this, especially if you're just testing whether required fields have been entered. Why submit the form to the server -- making the user wait longer and the server work harder -- when the browser can use JavaScript to instantly test whether all required fields have values in them and even put the cursor in the field that needs a value? Version 6 makes it simple to enter JavaScript "onsubmit" event code, since there's an event hook for it in the IDE.

In cases where you can't do the validation before submitting -- for instance, because the server has to look up a value to make sure it's unique -- there's another technique that lets you redisplay the form, with the data still on it, and error messages shown in a contrasting color at the top (or next to each incorrect field, though that is more work). This way the user doesn't have to press Back and remember what was in the error message. For a description of this technique, and an example you can download of JavaScript validation, click here.

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This was last published in April 2005

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