Conventional wisdom holds that a rich client like Lotus Notes is superior to a thin client like a Web browser. This is true in most cases. However, there is one Lotus Notes-related situation in which only a Web browser will do.
As an example scenario, let's say you have one or more documents with dynamic content -- i.e., the field names are different. Even worse, perhaps you don't even know what the field names/values are ahead of time. The challenge is to create a form that allows for the viewing and editing of such documents.
Lotus Notes is a powerful application, but it doesn't offer any way (that I'm aware of) to create a design element on the fly. Even if there was, it would be much too complicated for an ordinary Notes/Domino developer to make it worthwhile. This leaves us with the Web browser.
The solution to the problem is surprisingly simple. Build a Lotus Notes form that generates a dynamic HTML form based on the content of the document being viewed/edited.
In fact, the solution I'm proposing contains just one Lotus Notes field and one Computed Text value. There are also two agents: a WebQueryOpen agent called "LoadDocData" and a WebQuerySave agent called "SaveDocData".
We'll call the form "Data" so we can refer to it in the code that follows. In addition, let's assume that the Form field in these documents is set to "Data" to make it all work.
(WebQueryOpen) Agent LoadDocData (variable declarations omitted for brevity):
NOTE: In the code below, the agent uses the doc.items property to cycle through all the fields in the document and creates an HTML form with editable fields. I advise alphabetically sorting the fields, which was not done here, to make finding document fields on the screen easier.
All the field names and their values point back to a field called $$Record, a name that was arbitrarily chosen by me. When the Lotus Domino server sees this field, it "stuffs" all the data into a single field, making it a multi-value text list. This field plays a central role in the WebQuerySave agent, as you shall see shortly.
Sub Initialize Set s = New NotesSession Set sdoc = s.DocumentContext Set db = s.CurrentDatabase ts = |<table border=1 cellspacing=0 width=80% align="center"> <tr valign=top><td colspan=2 bgcolor="808080" align="center"> <b><font size="4" color="FFFFF">Document Data< /font></b></td></tr> <tr valign=top><td width=20%><b>Field Name< /b></td><td width=60%>< b>Field Value</b></td></tr>| te = |</table>| rs = |<tr valign=top>| re = |</tr>| cs = |<td><font size=2>| ce = |</font></td>| Forall f In sdoc.items nam = f.name If (Instr ( nam, "$" ) Or Instr (Lcase ( nam ) , "form" ) ) Then 'do nothing, do not expose internal fields Else values = f.values fieldHTML = |<input name="$$Record" type="hidden" value="| & nam & |" ><input name="$$Record" value="| & values(0) & |" size="25" maxlength="100">| editrow = rs & cs & nam & ce & cs & fieldHTML & ce & re editbody = editbody & editrow End If End Forall edittable = ts & editbody & te Call sdoc.ReplaceItemValue ( "EditTable" , edittable ) End Sub (WebQuerySave) Agent SaveDocData (again, declarations dropped for sake of brevity) (In this agent, the field $$Record is inspected to identify changes to fields. Since the structure of the $$Record is "name," "value," "name," "value," etc., we can easily identify and set appropriate fields with new values.) Sub Initialize Set s = New NotesSession Set sdoc = s.DocumentContext Set db = s.CurrentDatabase record = sdoc.GetItemValue ("$$Record" ) For n% = Lbound ( record ) To Ubound ( record ) remainder = n% Mod 2 If remainder = 0 Then fn = record (n%) Else tmpvalue = Trim$ ( record (n%) ) Call sdoc.ReplaceItemValue ( fn, value ) End If Next End Sub
To put it all together, create a form called "Data" with a field called $$Record (type text, computed, allow multiple values, hidden) and a computed (pass-thru HTML) text value that has the following formula: @If (@IsDocBeingEdited ; EditTable ; ReadTable ), where ReadTable could be the read-only equivalent of the EditTable field calculated in the "LoadDocData" agent above.
Make the "LoadDocData" run on the WebQueryOpen event and "SaveDocData" on the WebQuerySave event and you're done.
Of course, the "Save" link should be provided with the code @Command ( [FileSave] ); @Command ( [FileCloseWindow] ) running behind it.
To make the form a bit more useful, you can check for input/edit errors and dump them into a field called $Errors, which will display if there is something in it.
As a final window-dressing, you could have a $$Return field with the formula: @If (@IsAvailable($Errors) ; "… come back to the edit URL…" ; "… go to some other URL… "). Notice that the agent code assumes single-value fields by working with value(0) part of the field -- but it could certainly be modified to work with more complex data types.
If you need to create actual fields, views, forms, etc., you could also use NotesDXLImporter. It can be somewhat tricky at times though.
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This was first published in January 2007