Parameters in manual actions
Vladi Gubler
Vladi Gubler
July 30, 2021 | Products

Hi,

Using the Actions component of Ultimate Forms is an easy-to-use alternative to workflows and PowerAutomate, that allows you to implement advanced business logic without being an expert in workflow design. Unlike traditional workflows, you do not need to configure complex multistep flowcharts to be able to add automation to your business processes. All you do is configure a set of separate actions, each with its own triggers and conditions, without having to worry about dependencies, states or other workflow attributes that can be confusing to non-technical users.

Actions have a variety of triggers that activate them:

  • Events - actions are executed when items are added, update or deleted in your lists or document libraries
  • Timer - actions are executed according to a date in the item's column (for instance, 2 weeks after creation or 2 days before due date) or daily/weekly/monthly
  • Manual - actions are triggered by users via buttons on forms and/or list views

Up until now, manual actions could be triggered, but you could not pass any user-entered data to those actions. You could use information already present in the item or perform calculations/functions, but you could not request the user for some additional details. Now we are changing that!

With the new Parameters feature, you can define one or more parameters of different types, which will be presented to the user as a form when the action is triggered. The inputs will be passed to the action that will use that data in its processing. For example, you can use it to set status.

Currently we are supporting the following parameter data types

  • Text - free text input
  • Number - any number or currency
  • Date - date, and optionally, time
  • Yes/no - checkmark for entering yes/no values
  • Choice - selection from a number of predefined text choices

What is great about it is that the parameters behave just like regular columns. You can set default values, make them required and so on.

Let me show how it's done:

  1. Start configuring a new action. The simplest and most common action type would be Update list items action that updates one or more items in a list/document library
  2. Switch to Advanced configuration tab and enable Manual mode for the action
  3. Notice Parameters section there, let's create a few parameters
  4. Clicking on Add new column will reveal the selection of supported column types. As I mentioned above, parameters are identical in their definition to columns and are configured in the same way, except they are stored by the action definition and are not added to the list itself.
  5. Once you click on the desired type, an entry form for the column configuration will be presented, it's basically identical to the form for creation a column in the list.
  6. Once you've configured all the parameters you want, you can use them for mapping of column values you want to update. Your parameters will appear first, in blue, with @ character preceding their name. Note that you can use them just as you would any other column, so feel free to use calculations or functions.
  7. Once your action is configured and saved, it's time to trigger it manually. You can do it from the toolbar or ribbon. When triggered from a list view, make sure to select one or more items first, to make the button appear. Here how it would appear on a modern form:


    And here is the same button on a list view, notice that I selected an item in the view:
  8. Once I click on the button, a pop-up showing a selection of manual actions configured on the list is presented:
  9. Actions without parameters are executed once you click on them, but if your action has parameters, a form is generated and displayed instead:

    Note how the value 'Totally' comes prefilled via the default value setting of the parameter.
  10. Fill in your values and click on Save, it will then trigger the action with these values. Note that if you do not provide a value for a parameter, it will use empty value to set in the action, it will not ignore the parameter. So it makes sense to make your parameters required if an empty value is not an option.
  11. Instead of using toolbar buttons, you can embed button directly within the form and trigger your action from those buttons. I recommend it as a better and more user-friendly approach!
  12. Go to Form Designer and add a new button to your form
  13. Click on it and set its settings on the right
  14. Give it a meaningful label, then set the button type to Trigger action and select your action from the list. Once done, publish the form.
  15. Open an item for display, then click on the button. A floating form will be generated and displayed:
  16. Enter your values, then click on Submit. The action will be queued for execution and you will be presented with real time progress indication
  17. Note that unlike the toolbar button, this way of execution will also reload the item once the action is done, so any updates it's made will be visible to the user!

As you can see, the possibilities here are endless. Use this feature to perform bulk updates, to interact with external applications, for one click approval and so much more! Enjoy!

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