Form Linking and Parent Child – When, Why, and Where to Use

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    ehuezo
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    Hello PerfectForms Users,
    Over the last two posts we have introduced you to “Parent Child” forms, and “Form Linking”. This may have left you with the question: “Which do I use, and when do I use it?” In the following post I will provide a couple explanations that should help you answer that question.

    A Parent Child form is a form relationship that PerfectForms is already configured to perform. This functionality will allow you to launch, and track additional “Child” workflows from an existing “Parent” workflow. This configuration will provide you with a holding tank for your instances that can be configured to provide updates and access to any instances it has created. This setup is fairly quick to configure, and easy to test. You will always have dependable outcomes as the heavy lifting has already been prepared on the back end. There are two things to keep in mind with this process, the first is that a parent form must first be submitted to create a child form. This means that in the first stage of your parent workflow process, you will not be able to create a child form. This requirement can be manipulated by configuring the form to submit and reopen the same instance as soon as the parent form is opened.
    A second consideration when considering a parent child process is a lack of flexibility. With a pre-configured setup, there are not many customization possibilities. For example, If you wish to make a child form out of a preexisting instance your build would be halted. It is only possible to create a child form from a new instance.

    A Linked Form provides an extensive selection of options. This functionality can be the ace up your sleeve when incorporating other workflows. A link does not require a parent form to create an instance. This will allow you to link to previous instances, select a previous instance using an advanced operator configuration, or create new instances.

    *Hint: An “Operator” is the conditional logic used when searching for data. The operators we allow are =, <>, <, >, =>, <=, and LIKE.

    A form link is as flexible as a database connection is. The reason this option is so flexible is because the backbone is in fact a Connection. Since form linking is a utility you build from start to finish, the process can take a lot of time to set up, and dial in to achieve the desired results. You will need to do extensive testing if you have many possible outcomes, trigger behaviors in other forms, integrate with a database, or update data in other instances. The testing for this process would include:

    • Testing the form
    • Testing the workflow
    • Test the behaviors
    • Test the connection
    • Repeat the process in the linked form

    You will want to ensure any and all possible outcome are covered, and providing the desired results.
    As a form designer, my preference is form linking. The reason for my preference is that I can easily modify or add to the functionality as requirements change.

    When developing any process it is important to ask yourself if your process is finalized or is there a possibility of expansion in the near future. This is a general rule to keep in mind, and if you practice building with your answer to this question in mind, you will save yourself some headaches down the road.
    Either of these methods should be used if any or multiple of the following statements are true:

    • A portion of the workflow is already built out in an existing form
    • The end result of a workflow does not mean the larger scope workflow is complete
    • Data from a workflow could improve the experience of another workflow
    • A process has a dependency on another process, and the data from one of the processes should not be shared

    To wrap things up, the following two scenarios should help in most cases answer your question:

    1. If you have a process that is needed hastily or does not have need for future expansion, a Parent Child form is the route to follow.
    2. If you plan to expand your workflow in the future, need to link to previously created instances, need to update other instances, need to link to multiple forms, a form link is the proper route.

    I would like to thank you for your time. Please feel free to post any questions or comments below, and as always Happy Form Building!

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