Appian Release Notes

User Interfaces

This section describes new features for user interfaces, including Tempo, Sites, and Embedded interfaces.

Modern UI

Appian is now more responsive, more accessible, and more attractive. We've been overhauling the look, feel, and usability of Appian applications to give them a more modern style and make them even easier to use. The best part is, you don't have to change any of your SAIL expressions to get the benefit of Modern UI.

Modern UI is a multi-step evolution for our platform interfaces. We will only cover the UI changes in this release. However, If you're interested in learning more about the Modern UI Initiative, check out this video:


Updated Component Styling

Our SAIL components don't just look nicer, in many cases, they have been enhanced to do cool new things. For example, our Chart components have been updated with newer animations and styling as well as built-in filtration from the chart legend:

Similarly, the styling of the multi-dropdown component has newer animations as well as collapsing when not in use. This allows you to multi-select without needing to use any special key-combinations:

Update to this release and you will have all the benefits to modern SAIL components.


With this release, the Interface Designer doesn't yet show the new style when you preview an interface using the live view. While you can still use the live view to test the functionality of your interface, you'll need to view the interface in Tempo, Sites, or Embedded in order to see what it looks like with the modern styling.

Updated Tempo Styling

In addition to contemporary styling for your users, Tempo can be further configured to better reflect your unique brand with more color options. You'll see your chosen colors in the navigation bar and wallpaper. You can also control the accent color of buttons, links, section titles, display fields, and more.

Enhanced User Profile And User Card

The user profile was also modernized and makes personalizations more rewarding.

This release, we also made sure that user cards accessed from SAIL interfaces will reflect the same modern styling.

Web Accessibility for Interfaces

SAIL components have also been updated to allow you to more easily meet web site accessibility standards. You don't need to do anything to existing applications to take advantage of these improvements.

For more information, see our guidance on Building Accessible Applications.

Modern Record Navigation

Countless hours of usability testing and your feedback about using records have led to some great improvements to working with and navigating through record views and record lists.

We moved the clunky record views list from the left-hand pane, where it took up design space and gathered plenty of complaints, to the top of the view where it makes for natural tabs.

We gave the same treatment to record lists for the same reasons. Filters and the search box can now be found along the top of your record lists, instead of taking up space on the side.

If you haven't done so yet, now is a great time to review any feed-style record lists you have and consider converting them to the grid-style.

Quick App Improvements

We continue to update Quick Apps to add the flexibility and control necessary for your enterprise.

Removable Status and Priority

We made the Status and Priority fields fully editable to give you more flexibility when creating a Quick App. Users can now move these fields, change their requiredness, or remove them entirely.

This works for new Quick Apps or when updating existing Quick Apps.

These enhancements also apply to the application builder in Appian Designer.

To see this on any of your existing Quick Apps, just open them again in the wizard and navigate to the Form page.

Define Owners for Each Quick App

Business users now have more governance options when creating or updating a Quick App. A new Owners role is available. The Owners role differs from Collaborators in the following ways:

  • Only Owners and Collaborators can see their Quick Apps details and configuration (formerly, all Quick App Creators could see each others' apps).
  • Only Owners can see or edit the Quick App in the Quick Apps Designer.

The user who creates or updates a Quick App is automatically set as one of the Owners. This is also the case for existing Quick Apps on upgrade to 17.1. You can change the default owner at any time.

Find Tasks Sent by You

We've made the Quick App task report faster and easier for users to work with. Now when users open the report, they see open tasks assigned to them by default, and have a new button they can click to see tasks they've assigned to others.

To add this filter to Quick Apps created before 17.1, update the app through the Quick Apps Designer, proceed through the wizard (no changes required), and click Update Quick App.

Discoverable Sites

Sites now include a new navigation menu that will allow users to easily jump from one site to any other site they have access to, which eliminates the need to use workarounds like creating browser bookmarks.

Responsive Sites Interfaces

As the screen size shrinks on your Site, like when you view it on a mobile device, the layout and components will rearrange themselves to be more usable.

Improved Navigation for Single-Page Sites

Users can now click on the page name in the navigation bar of a single-page Site in order to refresh the page and show its original contents (e.g., if the user had drilled in). This is consistent with the behavior of multi-page Sites.

New Loading Bar In Sites And Embedded

Users of Sites and Embedded will no longer have the working indicator in their way while waiting for interfaces to refresh. Instead, you'll find a discrete loading bar along the top-most edge of the interface that will track the reevaluation progress.

Improvements to Embedded Interfaces

We have put a lot of energy into improving Embedded interfaces to add more functionality, make Embedded a better experience for users, and address known technical limitations. Welcome to the new and improved Embedded!

Be sure to follow the steps described in the Update Guide to take advantage of the improvements to Embedded interfaces.

Also see Simplified Embedded Theming in the Appian Administrator section.

Modern Embedded Interfaces

Along with Tempo and Sites, Embedded interfaces now render with a modern look and feel. They also now adjust accordingly as users resize their browser windows in order to appear optimally for any given window size.

Embedded Reports

Reports (including task reports) can now be embedded in external (non-Appian) web pages.

Task Reassignment and Rejection

Embedded tasks now support task reassignment and rejection if configured to be available by the designer. If available, these task controls appear at the top of the task form, just like for tasks in Tempo and Sites.

Streamlined Authentication

We have streamlined authentication for Embedded interfaces to remove unnecessary steps. Embedded users are now asked to provide their credentials in a single prompt when needed even if multiple Appian interfaces are embedded in a single external web page.

New Comment Message

When you go to post a comment, you'll now be notified if comments have been added to the post since you last refreshed the entry.

Self-Service Password Recovery

Once a Cloud-only feature, on-premises users now have the ability to reset forgotten passwords without assistance from an administrator.

This feature will be disabled for customers with users that authenticate entirely through SAML or LDAP.

Administrators can elect to disable this feature from the Appian Authentication page of the Administration Console, and its usage can be audited through the Forgot Password Requests and Password Resets audit logs.

Hierarchy Browser Caching

The Columns Browser and Tree Browser Component components now update when data displayed in them has changed via a SAIL Smart Service.

This gives designers more options as they can now use these components in reports and record views that leverage Smart Services in SAIL. And this added flexibility comes without any compromise to the efficiency of these components.

Appian Designer

Integration between Process Modeler and Interface Designer

Manually connecting process models to interfaces was relatively tedious when compared to configuring other aspects of an Appian application, so we got rid of it. Designers can now create new interfaces directly from the Forms tab while configuring a start form or any attended smart service.

As you can see, new interface inputs will be automatically created with the same name and type as the parameter process variables used by a process' start form, or node inputs defined on the attended smart service.

This convenience isn't just available when creating new interfaces; you can also select an existing interface and have the inputs brought in as process variables. Once an interface is selected, designers can easily map its inputs to the start form's parameter process variables, or the node's inputs with a dropdown.

Cross-Browser Process Modeler

We have added some pretty cool updates to the process modeler including support for Chrome, Firefox, Safari and MS Edge for both Windows and Mac.

We have also fixed over one hundred defects and added fifteen enhancements including:

Modernized Look

A more streamlined look and feel through out the process modeler, which includes a new color scheme, as well as new smart service icons and dialogs.

Lasso Selection for Nodes

Designers can now select multiple nodes by dragging a selection over multiple nodes. Once selected, you can move the objects together.

Hide Save for SAIL Tasks

From the Forms tab, designers can now specify for each SAIL task whether or not users will have the option to save a draft of the task before submission. By default, the ability to save is enabled for new task (attended) nodes. For nodes that existed before upgrade, the new "Allow users to save a draft of in-progress tasks" checkbox will have the opposite value of the pre-upgrade value of the "Hide task toolbar" checkbox. This will result in the same behavior for users upon upgrade as before upgrade.

This configuration takes effect for SAIL tasks in all user environments: Tempo, Sites, and Embedded. It also takes effect when viewing the task in debug mode.

Start Form Indication on Start Event

Designers no longer need to open a process model's properties to determine whether there is a process start form configured. Instead, a new checkmark icon displayed on the start event node allows designers to easily identify this configuration.

New and Updated Identity Management Smart Services

Two new smart services have been added to provide designers with the ability to update and delete groups. In addition, a new version of the Create Group smart service is now available:

These new smart services can be found in the process modeler palette, under Identity Management, and can be executed from Process Modeler and from SAIL.

The Update Group smart services replaces the Edit Team and Edit Department smart services, which are now deprecated.
The Delete Group smart services replaces the Delete Team and Delete Department smart services, which are now deprecated.

Appian Designer Performance Improvements

We've made many of the recurring operations in Appian Designer faster! Common activities such as selecting objects, searching, and filtering have been sped up by as much as 25% in our testing, though the exact amount of improvement you see may vary.

The sample times shown below are taken from an environment with approximately 50,000 design objects in Appian Designer.

SAP Integration Improvements

SAP Commit Flag

Designers can now set a Boolean flag in the Invoke SAP BAPI Smart Service to automatically execute a commit after an invoked BAPI within a single transaction.

SAP Smart Service Function

Designers can use the new a!sapInvokeWithCommit() Smart Service function to write to SAP and receive the results in a SAIL interface or a Web API.

When configuring related actions for a record type, designers can now customize the icon associated with each related action. The default is the lightning bolt icon. Custom icons will allow users to easily find a related action in a list.

Data Design Improvements

Create CDTs from Database Tables

You can now create a new CDT that maps to an existing table in the database without modifying the XSD file.

The CDT will contain fields for each column in the database table, as well as all of the appropriate JPA annotations to map the CDT to the table. You can also automatically create a data store entity so that you can read and write values in the table.

Configure Length and Relationship of Data Types

The data type designer now allows you to set two new configurations: length and relationship. Both allow users to make common configurations without needing to know how to write XSD annotations.

Fields of type Text now allow you to specify a length constraint, which will set the appropriate annotation on the field. When Appian publishes a table defined with this data type, the column in the database will have that length constraint set.

Fields with @JoinColumn or @JoinTable annotations will now show an icon indicating that they have a foreign key configured. If the type of these fields is a Custom Data Type, then the foreign key icon can be clicked to configure the relationship on the field. A data type field can be set to have a One-to-One, One-to-Many, Many-to-One, or Many-to-Many relationships. Join annotations can also be set to make sure that the field maps to the appropriate database column.

Lastly, choosing a Custom Data Type as the type of a data type field will set a default relationship based on Appian best practices. This relationship will be updated automatically when the Array checkbox is toggled.

Interface Editing Awareness

Designers are now protected against unknowingly overwriting one another’s changes to interfaces. Once you begin editing an interface, other designers are warned when they open or try to update the same interface. You are also warned if you try to edit the same interface in more than one window or browser.

Designers will be able to open the interface in read-only mode, which allows them to view and navigate the definition, test the interface, and analyze performance.

And if someone begins editing an interface you're currently working on, you'll be alerted.

See also: Interfaces

Constant Design Improvements

Environment Specific Constants

Constants can now be configured to indicate that their value will be different depending on the environment they are on. The values are preconfigured via an import customization file, which eliminates the need for manually updating constant values after an import. With these improvements, environment specific constants no longer need to be managed in a separate "Environment Specific" application, further simplifying the deployment process.

The following scalar and array constant types can be set as environment specific:

  • Boolean
  • Date
  • Date and Time
  • Number (Decimal)
  • Number (Integer)
  • Text
  • Time

Constant Editing in Appian Designer

Constant design has been greatly improved in Appian Designer, as we continue to migrate functionality from the /designer environment. Clicking on a constant in Appian Designer now opens it in a dialog for editing, with the same design as the dialog currently used for creating constants.

The new dialog can also be opened from expression editors by control-clicking on the name of the constant, in the same way that expression rules and interfaces could already be opened.

In addition, designers can use a single field to enter values for text and number array constants, rather than making a new row in the grid for each value.

Finally, the type and value of a constant are now visible and editable when duplicating it during constant creation.

Browse Record Fields in the Record Type Designer

In the record type designer, inputs that require one of the fields of the record now offer a type-ahead and pulldown that allow users to select a record field off of a list, rather than simply typing in text.

Configurable User Record Summary View

The out-of-the-box User record is even more customizable than before! Designers can now configure content to be displayed below the user's cover photo and contact info and above the Latest News section of the Summary view.

To do so, simply open up the User record type in the record type designer, click on the Summary view to edit it, and provide the desired interface in the Interface field.

Filter Applications by Last Modified date/time

Designers can now filter the list of applications by their last modified date/time, in the same way that the contents of an application can already be filtered.

Versions Accessible in Interface and Expression Rule Designers

Designers can now access versions of interfaces and expression rules through their respective designers. This facilitates viewing previous versions for debugging and allows for easier access to modification information.

The Versions dialog displays basic information about all other versions of the interface and includes a link to each version. The version description is also shown here and can act as designer notes for descriptions that are not exposed to end users.

See also: Interfaces, Interface Designer, and Expression Rules

Application and Process Model Pickers for Testing

When testing interfaces and expression rules, you can now specify values for application and process model inputs using pickers in addition to expressions.

Update Plug-in Data Types

Custom data types from Java objects defined using plug-ins can now be updated without first deleting the existing data type from the target system. Simply deploy a plug-in with a version number greater than the currently-deployed plug-in and the data type will be updated to the new definition. All dependents of the data type are automatically updated to use the latest version.

Interface Properties Now Accessed From Settings Menu

The Settings menu in the interface designer contains a new option to open Interface Properties dialog, where you can edit the interface description, folder, and offline configuration. You can no longer access this dialog by clicking on the interface name.

Appian Designer now contains a persistent link to the legacy /designer environment, to allow users to more easily navigate between environments while we migrate functionality from /designer into Appian Designer. This link is labeled Runtime Data and links to the Processes tab.

Runtime process information is the most common scenario in which users will need to use this link to directly navigate to /designer. For most design work that still takes place in /designer, users will be automatically directed to the appropriate page when they click on the object in Appian Designer.

Appian Administrator

This section describes new features for administering Appian.

Administrators can now configure custom links to display on Appian's sign-in page, allowing you to direct users to terms of service, help information, instructions for how to register for a new account, etc.

Disabling Appian Mobile App Prompt

There is a new option in the Administration Console that allows administrators to hide the prompt to download the Appian mobile app when users load the sign-in page in a mobile web browser.

Simplified Embedded Theming

Creation and maintenance of themes for embedded interfaces has been significantly simplified! Rather than providing dozens of low-level component style configurations, administrators now need only make a few high-level choices and Appian automatically applies those configurations to all relevant components.

All font size configurations have been consolidated into a single Base Font Size configuration from which all font sizes in the resulting interface are derived. Similarly, all color configurations have been consolidated into two color configurations: Page Background Color and Accent Color. Font weights are no longer configurable.

Upon upgrade, the Base Font Size field will have the same value as that of the pre-upgrade Field Value Font Size field. Similarly, the Page Background Color will have the same value as that of the pre-upgrade Page Background field. Accent Color will be the default Appian blue (#1d659c).

This consolidation will drastically reduce the overhead needed to maintain themes across releases. For example, no new configurations need to be specified as new SAIL components become available. Instead, those SAIL components will derive their font sizes and colors from the existing fields.

User's First and Last Names Can Now Contain Periods

This change applies to all means of user creation and editing, including the Add User Smart Service, the Update User Profile Smart Service, User Management in the Admin Console, and the People tab in the legacy /designer environment.

Self-Service Plug-in Deployment (Cloud Only)

System administrators on Cloud sites can now deploy cloud-approved plug-ins from the Administration Console without assistance from Appian Support. This will greatly reduce the amount of time it takes to deploy plug-ins to your sites.

Server Administration

Long Engine Transaction Warning Logs

The Appian engines now produce a log file when they execute a transaction that takes more than 60 seconds. This file is helpful when reporting such incidents to Appian Support and should be included in any support case relating to long engine transaction times.

Tracking for New .l Files

The engine_system.csv log now contains columns that track the number of memory spike and long transaction .l files, similarly to how they previously counted the number of rollback and transaction replay error .l files.

Appian Developer

This section describes new features for developers.

Single Library for Plug-in Development

Setup of your integrated development environment for creating Appian plug-ins has been simplified. Now, only a single JAR file needs to be included as an external library: <APPIAN_HOME>/_admin/sdk/appian-plug-in-sdk.jar.

Appian Cloud

Real-Time Virus Scanning on Cloud

Cloud customers now have, by default, real-time virus scanning of all files under 25MB that are uploaded in the following locations:

  • Tempo News
  • Social Tasks
  • SAIL forms in all locations:
    • Tempo
    • Sites
    • Embedded Interfaces
  • The Administration Console
  • The Appian Designer.

Virus scanning can be disabled globally in the Administration Console and can be audited in the blocked files audit log.

New JDBC Driver for MySQL

Version 5.1.40 is the new JDBC driver used in Appian Cloud to connect to MySQL databases.

Please review the following documentation from MySQL to learn more about the changes introduced in newer versions of this JDBC driver:

We recommend reviewing these documents and update any incompatible query syntax you might be using in your applications. This can be completed before being converted to our latest release to avoid any problems.

New JDBC Driver for Oracle

Version 12.1.0.2 is the new JDBC driver used in Appian Cloud to connect to Oracle databases.

Please review the following documentation from Oracle to learn more about the changes introduced in newer versions of this JDBC driver:

We recommend reviewing these documents and update any incompatible query syntax you might be using in your applications. This can be completed before being converted to our latest release to avoid any problems.

End of Support for TLS 1.0 in August of 2017

Effective August 2017, Appian Cloud sites will no longer support TLS 1.0. All incoming web traffic to Appian Cloud sites will be encrypted using TLS 1.1 or TLS 1.2, both of which are already supported by Appian Cloud. This is a global change in Appian Cloud not tied to a specific release.

The Payment Card Industry (PCI) security council released PCI Data Security Standard (DSS) 3.1. PCI DSS deprecated SSL 3.0 and TLS 1.0 as secure protocols. This change has been acknowledged as a best practice across the industry and all major service providers are removing or have removed TLS 1.0 for web traffic.

More information about this change is available here.

Administrators can now create custom links on the sign in page through the Appian Administration Console without coordination with Appian Technical Support.

Appian Cloud customers who have sites configured with custom links on the Sign-in Page will need to configure these links through the Administration Console once their sites are converted to Appian 17.1.

More information about this change is available here.

Behavior Changes

The changes documented below may affect your applications. Note both the previous and new behaviors and make any updates as needed to adjust for these changes upon migration to this version of Appian.

Pickers Now Display Correct Value

When removing tokens from a picker, the picker now displays the correct value once the reevaluation completes. Previously, if the value was hardcoded and the user attempted to remove it, the picker would display as if the value was removed when it hadn't been. Now, the picker always displays the correct value.

Application Server Logging

The main application server log output, previously available in application-server.log, has been consolidated with the application server's stdout output. You should now monitor your application server's stdout for error and debugging messages instead of the application-server.log file. Customers that use WebLogic will need to adjust its configuration in order to capture stdout to a log file.

Resolved Issues

This release resolves the issues listed below. To assist you in your migration planning, issue severity is listed for each item. The values of high, medium, and low are based on the criteria of system availability, system integrity, and confidentiality. Use this information, along with how you use Appian, to evaluate the applicability of this version to your deployment.

  • AN-79346 - High
    Saving a constant that points to a record type that the user doesn't have permission to no longer results in the constant's value being cleared.

  • AN-47074 - High
    The file upload component retains focus after an upload completes, provided the user hasn't yet clicked elsewhere.

  • AN-61858 - High
    Grid cell validation messages are now read by screen readers as error messages instead of plain text.

  • AN-69353 - Medium
    The file upload component is no longer obscured by a "Waiting" message while a file uploads.

  • AN-67934 - Medium
    The placeholder text in date and date & time components is now read correctly by screen readers.

  • AN-65866 - Medium
    The "Add all objects to application" link in the missing precedents tool now adds all missing precedents, rather than only adding the first page of results.

  • AN-64444 - Medium
    Adding a new expression rule to the definition of a record type is now correctly reflected when you check the precedents of that record type.

  • AN-78785 - Low
    The inline documentation for the 'getgroupattribute()' function has been updated to clarify the correct use of the function.

  • AN-75733 - Low
    Creating a new record in a Quick App no longer fails when the name of the new record includes quotation marks.

  • AN-45528 - Low
    Viewers of a constant can now successfully view the value and configuration of a constant.

  • AN-80320 - Low
    When removing tokens from a picker, the picker now displays the correct value once the reevaluation completes.

  • AN-70336 - Low
    The user record summary views no longer executes user filter expressions.

  • AN-76823 - Low
    The authz-audit.log log now includes an entry when denying authorization to an action because it was attempted by an unknown user. In this case the username column of the log is left blank, but the other columns are present in the log.

  • AN-70197 - Low
    The log file unattended-request-poller.log now contains a date and time for each log statement.

  • AN-76617 - Low
    The public API method ContentService.validate() no longer causes a Signal error when passed an invalid id.

  • AN-47409 - Low
    When a confirmation dialog launches in Tempo, it is now centered within the screen.

  • AN-62221 - Low
    Center and right-aligned checkboxes no longer flicker after page reevaluations.

  • AN-62301 - Low
    After removing an uploaded file, the upload button no longer shrinks.

  • AN-54584 - Low
    Long field labels that wrap to multiple lines now display descending letters correctly.

  • AN-53546 - Low
    Clicking the back button while viewing an image slideshow now goes back to the previous page.

  • AN-53358 - Low
    Now when a file upload component is disabled and contains an uploaded file, users may not delete the file.

  • AN-55039 - Low
    Paging grids and editable grids now have consistent styling.

  • AN-54831 - Low
    User profile pictures now display correctly in user pickers regardless of the profile picture's aspect ratio.

  • AN-52350 - Low
    The rotation for colors applied to data series in bar charts now matches the rotation for colors in other chart types.

Deprecations

The features listed below are deprecated and will be removed in a future release of Appian. Do not begin using deprecated features, and transition away from any prior usage of now deprecated features. Where applicable, supported alternatives are described for each deprecation.

Edit Team & Delete Team Smart Services

This functionality is now deprecated as of Appian 17.1. Designers should use the Edit Group and the Delete Group smart service instead.

Edit Department & Delete Department Smart Services

This functionality is now deprecated as of Appian 17.1. Designers should use the Edit Group and the Delete Group smart service instead.

Removals

The following features have been removed from Appian and are no longer available for use. If you are using any of these features, you must move away from their use before upgrading to this version.

Smart service nodes which support these features in existing process models will continue to work, and can be copied into new models as necessary.

Send Message Event and Trigger

The ability to select a process model as a message destination has been removed from the Send Message Event and the Send Message Trigger of an end event. This removal will not affect existing process models with this configuration, nor will it affect running processes.

Instead, use the Start Process smart service to kick off a process.

To start a process model from an escalation, configure a receive message trigger on the start node of the target process model and select that process model as the message destination.

Add New Task Forms Using the Forms Designer

The ability to configure new attended nodes (e.g. a user input task) using Forms Designer has been removed. Existing nodes that use the Forms Designer forms can still be edited in the process modeler, and continue to run as before.

Copying and pasting nodes that use the Forms Designer form continues to work as before.

Use SAIL to create interfaces for your applications.

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