When we’ve imagined The-Data-Box, we’ve tried to build a tool that would cover a large number of cases. To do this, it was very obvious that we needed a highly flexible data structure, which has naturally led us to integrate a dynamic form builder to the product. In fact, we had this in mind since 2009, when we’ve built an in-house product that we called “INFINITY” (to reflect that it would cover “infinite” cases), product which was derivated from two previous ones called “DOC” (an easy Document Management) and “FLUID” (a Workflow Management).
Nevertheless, a flexible data structure is not enough, because each kind of data has to be processed specifically. Let’s take the example of a Contract.
First of all, the contract could be automatically built from a Template, merging some values contained in the form, like the customer’s name, address, product type, amount, delivery date, and so on… Then, it might have different Versions before its final release, and the people involved in the process should also be able to exchange Comments during the process. When finished, the contract could also be Shared by sending it by email to the customer. Then, depending on some legal conditions, the contract might be Archived at the end of its lifecycle.
On the contrary, let’s take another example with a Leave Request. The form will have a few static fields : it doesn’t need a Template, it doesn’t need Versions… but, it needs to follow some Workflow to be validated accross the organization.
To deal with those various constraints, we have added the concept of FEATURE to our dynamic forms. With The-Data-Box, you exactly plug the features you need at the form level, and not at the application level.
This makes a huge difference bewteen us and our competitors, because it means our User Interface is always minimalist. What’s the point of having the “Comments” feature available from everywhere if you hardly ever use it?
In The-Data-Box, this situation never happens, and the user only sees what’s useful in the context. On top of this, it allows our forms to be infinitely extended through new pluggable features, which is really a good news for our users and our dev community 🙂
Hope you’ll like our approach!