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Note

This content applies to Optimizely Content Management System (CMS) versions 10 and 11.

XForms are deprecated in CMS 12. Use [Optimizely Forms](🔗) instead. While existing solutions will continue to work, you should not build new solutions on this API. It will be phased out in the future.

 XForms contains logic to store and present forms and data posted from forms. Together with the forms editor in the CMS edit view, it lets editors create and modify forms and view form data. The XForms architecture enables customization, letting developers adapt the XForms functionality.

  • Basic concept

  • XForms forms management structure

  • `EPiServer.XForms` namespace

  • `EPiServer.XForms.WebControls` namespace

  • Sending form data

  • Modifying forms and data

  • Working with XForms in MVC

## Basic concept

Editors use the Forms Editor to create forms in edit view. When saved, the content of the form is saved as XHTML and XForms markup.

When the form is presented, it loads as web controls and renders as HTML to the client, so there is no need to install additional software to support XForms to the client. When you take this approach, Optimizely CMS does not support the client-side functionality that may be available when you use an XForms browser plug-in.

### Folders for forms

Form folders let you organize a group of forms in a folder structure, which can be useful if the site contains many forms. You also can set a default folder for forms for either the entire website or parts of the website, making it easier for editors to manage forms by adding a `DefaultFormFolder` dynamic property and then setting the property value to the folder of your choice for the part(s) of the website you want to affect.

When you create a new form page and select a form, the default folder is the starting point for the form selection. When you create new forms, the default folder is suggested. This property is supported, but is not included in the sample site and is therefore not included in the language files.

## XForms forms management structure



  1. A form is created in the Form Editor in CMS.

  2. Through [EPiServer.XForms](🔗), the form is converted to XHTML and XForms. Steps 1 and 2 can be repeated until the form has the desired look and functionality.

  3. The form is sent through [EPiServer.XForms](🔗) to the client as HTML. You can alter the form before it is presented to the client by attaching to events.

  4. Data is posted and validated. If the input does not pass validation, error messages are sent to the client. (You also can have additional validation on the client before sending the form to the server by setting the `EnableClientScript` property to **true** on the XFormControl web control.)

  5. Through [EPiServer.XForms](🔗), form data is passed into the Optimizely CMS data warehouse. You can send the posted data as an email or to a custom URL.

  6. If the data was saved to the database, you can load and show the posted data on the website.

## EPiServer.XForms namespace

### XForm class

The [XForm](🔗) class is a representation of the content and the structure of the form. The content of the form is saved as XML. The XML contains the **instance** node, which contains the data for the form such as field validation and default values for fields. It also stores information about the structure of the form; this is stored as XHTML with controls from the XForms namespace. This class is responsible for creating a default [XFormData](🔗) object from its instance node.

The following code shows an example of the content of an XForm. When you export a form with the CMS forms editor, the form content is represented in this format.



Note

Even though this example shows a form that is structured using HTML tables, there are no limitations for the structure of the form to use other elements, such as the **<div>** element. In CMS, the built-in form editor creates a form using HTML tables.

### XFormData class

The [XFormData](🔗) class contains information on the content of a posted form. Normally a new `XFormData` class instance is created when a form is posted, but it is also possible to define an old post when loading a form to be able to re-edit data. This is also the class representing existing data when loading form data for a form.

### DataTypes class

The [DataTypes](🔗) class contains information about the data types available for form fields. These are contained in a public `Types` property, which is basically a hash table that contains keys and values, where keys are the unique key for the data type and the value is a regular expression.

When you post form data, input is validated against the regular expression for the data type of the input control. If no data type is specified for the control, the data is validated against the public `InvalidDefaultInputRegex` string property. A default validation prevents malicious data from being posted from a form.

## EPiServer.XForms.WebControls namespace

### XFormControl class

[XFormControl](🔗) is a web control displays an XForms form and makes sure that the input is validated. The class exposes a public method, [SubmitForm](🔗), to be able to submit form data. The form itself does not trigger the actual posting. This is handled by any existing submit web controls in the form, which is also why it is possible to have several buttons on the same form that may trigger different actions. Of course, it is also possible to call this method from the code.

What happens when the form is loaded?

  1. The `BeforeLoadingForm` event is triggered. It is possible to alter the XForm definition here by changing the `FormDefinition` property of the `LoadFormEventArgs` that are sent to the event handler. (For instance, you could replace the **table** structure with a **div** structure by applying regular expressions to the form content).

  2. The XML from the `FormDefinition.Document` property is parsed by `Page.ParseControl`. The parsed controls are added as child controls. Basically these would be Literal controls for the HTML and form web controls derived from `XFormControlBase`.

  3. For fields that have validation, validation control(s) are added and connected to the corresponding web control.

  4. `ControlsCreated` is a triggered public event. You can alter the appearance and function of the form at this time.

  5. Rendering of the form takes place. Xform controls are rendered as XHTML.

What happens when data is submitted?

  1. A submit control triggers the `SubmitForm` event. If defined on the submit control, the submit sets values for email and/or custom URL to the forms data property for the `XFormControl` that it is contained in. The SubmitForm method is called with the channel options set on the submit control. See Sending Form Data for information about available channels.

  2. Validation takes place to ensure that rules about anonymous users and multiple postings from the same user are followed. If there are validation errors against these rules, `StaticValidators` are added to the `Page.Validators` collection to ensure that validation errors are thrown. A StaticValidator is a validator that always gives a validation error.

  3. `BeforeReadingPostedData` is a triggered public event and `Page.Validate()` is called for the current validation group. If the `CancelSubmit` property is set to **true**, a StaticValidator is added for all strings in the `ErrorMessages` array. Any validation errors to the XForm controls also results in validation errors and cancels the form posting with a list of validation errors.

  4. `BeforeSubmitPostedData` is a triggered public event and any event handlers that sets `CancelSubmit` to **true **cancel the form posting.

  5. The form data is sent to the specified channel. If the user is anonymous, a cookie is set to indicate that the form is posted.

  6. `AfterSubmitPostedData` is a triggered public event.

### XForms web controls

The following table shows the controls and their corresponding HTML tags used while rendering themselves:

Web ControlHTML
Input<input />
Select<input type=”checkbox” />
Select1, with Rendertype.Full<input type=”radio” />
Select1, with Rendertype.Minimal<select></select>
Submit<input type=”submit” />
TextArea<textarea></textarea>
SecretNot implemented yet

## Send form data

You can send an `XFormData` object to different channels. A channel might be storage in the database, an email address or a URL. The \*\* \*\*`ChannelOptions` property specifies one or several channels to which the data is sent.

Channel NameDescription
DatabaseThe entire `XFormData` object is serialized and saved to the `tblItem` table in the database.
EmailThe content of the form data is transformed using a predefined XSLT.
CustomUrlThe values for the form is uploaded to a URL using the `System.Net.WebClient` class.

## Modify forms and data

### Work with form postings

In CMS, the XForm class has several methods for accessing form data. [GetPostedData](🔗) lists form data objects that specify certain criteria such as posted date, form and page ID. In CMS, there are overloads of this method that supports paging also. [GetPostedDataCount](🔗) gets the number of users that have posted data to a form and [GetPostedDataStatistics](🔗) calculates statistics for a form directly in the database.

### Retrieve and modify previously posted data

You can re-edit data that is posted to the database (or another custom location if you can load and save the `XFormData` object). To do this, create an `XFormControl` object and set its Data property to the `XFormData` object you want to load. The form is loaded with the values from the posted data. If the data is posted to the database, the old data is replaced in the database.

You also could load an `XFormData` object and modify the object programmatically. By using the `Send` method, you can store the modified content again.

### Edit the appearance of a form

There are two main ways to edit the appearance of a form.

  1. Edit the content of the form in the `BeforeLoadingFormsEvent`. If you do this, it might affect the behavior of the built-in form editor. The `LoadFormsEventArgs` class has an `EditMode `property that defines whether the form is loaded in edit view. This lets you make changes only to the form to the end user, thus not affecting the Optimizely CMS edit mode.

  2. Attach to the `ControlsCreated` event for the `XFormControl` object. The content of the form is parsed and added to the Controls collection. The HTML content is parsed as **Literal** controls and the `XForm` controls as the different controls in the `EPiServer.XForms.WebControls` namespace. There should not be any problems modifying the HTML content.

If you want to change the appearance of the XForm web controls, add or modify the attribute collection for the control. By using CSS and setting the class attribute for the control, you could do a lot for the appearance of the form control. In Optimizely CMS the [ExtractXFormControls](🔗) method gets an `ArrayList` containing the input elements for the form.

### Send customized emails

When you use the **email option** for sending `XFormData`, the content of the form data is transformed using an XSLT schema. Unfortunately, you cannot specify a custom XSLT schema that is used to transform the form data to an email. You still can implement your own email handling by adding custom logic to the `BeforeSubmitPostedData` event on the `XFormControl` web control. Before exiting your custom logic, remove the email option from the `e.FormData.ChannelOptions` property to ensure that the regular email channel is not triggered.

If you simply set` e.FormData.ChannelOptions` to `ChannelOptions.None`, you lose additional channels that the form data is sent to, such as the Database Channel.

## Work with XForms in MVC

When you use XForms with MVC, required functionality are automatically injected into the controller when using the [ActionControllerBase](🔗) base class (which, for example, `PageController<T>` inherits from). Use the normal HTML-helper `Html.PropertyFor` in the view to render the XForm.

Static events on the [XFormActionHelper](🔗) class exist for both [BeforeSubmitPostedData](🔗) and [AfterSubmitPostedData](🔗) to listen and act on posted data via MVC for the whole site.

You also can handle the posting in a method on the controller. To take more control over the posting, add an [XFormParameters](🔗) instance to the following:



In the `XFormParameters` class, you can specify the methods to use when you post the XForm, and the methods to use when the user gets validation errors, and when the XForm successful gets posted. The controller may look something like the following code when you take care of the post action:



### Validation

Validation is performed automatically when you use the `XFormHandler` on the server side. To enable client validation, add the HTML-helper `EnableClientValidation` in your view.

### Render

To render an XForm property on a page, use the `Property` and `RenderPropertyXForm` HTML helper methods in the view. The Property method uses the default behavior, while the `RenderPropertyXForm` takes the name of the property, and an `XFormParameters` class as parameters. Optionally use the `XFormParameters` parameter to override the default settings.

If you do not set the `SuccessAction` and `FailedAction `properties on the `XFormParameters` class, the system uses default views for successful and failed posts. If you set `SuccessAction` to **Success** and `FailedAction` to **Failed**, the system calls the Success or Failed action in the controller, depending on whether a validation error occurred when posting the form. You must create the Success and Failed methods in the controller to make it work.