Appian Release Notes

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Users

Users will gain a lot of what they've been asking for in this release: speed, simplicity, and convenience.

Appian is Faster and Smarter!

In 17.4, when an expression or SAIL interface contains multiple queries, Appian automatically runs those queries in parallel if possible, which greatly speeds things up. We can't say exactly how much faster things will get for you, but you'll notice it most when it comes to loading heavy reports or records that contain a lot of queries. In our case, one of our own heavier reports got faster by 40%!

This is no small achievement for us, and we're trying to contain our excitement about it. If you're interested, we've got more details about what's going on. It's really cool.

Ultimately, what it means for you, the Designer, is that we're improving the product to handle the complex, rich reports and records you like to build. And if you shy away from doing too much in a report or record view because of performance concerns, we want you to instead embrace the complexity and detail. Leave the performance considerations to us; we build Appian around what you do, not the other way around.

Export Record Lists to Excel

Exporting data from Appian is now as simple as clicking a button.

We understand that your records are important to your organization, so there's a new option for entity-backed records that allows users to export record lists to Excel.

With a click of a button, your copy of record lists will automatically download to your personal device.

No need for plugins; you can export the entire record list, or filter the list down to just the data you want to export.

This feature is enabled by default for all entity-backed record lists. There's also guidance for Designers who want to maximize this feature.

At some level, every feature we develop is influenced by how you use Appian. These two new components best reflect that influence; we've seen a great desire to connect users directly to reports, and to let users start actions from an interface, so we've turned your design patterns into native link types, simplifying both the design and user experience.

The Start Process Link type is like having related actions on any interface. When the user clicks this link, it'll start the connected process and display the initial form. Once the user has completed the form process, they'll return to the original interface. An optional banner message may display on submission.

The Report Link type connects users directly to both regular reports and task reports, meaning users can open them without needing to spawn extra tabs.

Chart Reference Lines

We've added a new configuration for the Bar Chart, Line Chart, and Column Chart that lets you define reference lines on the chart. Show baselines, thresholds, targets—whatever makes sense for your chart.

You can set multiple reference lines in a variety of colors and styles, and even set conditional visibility.

More Style and Personality for Images

There are improved versions of the Image Component and Grid Image Column in this release with more styling options, some of which are tailored to better represent our most valuable commodity: you.

Sizing & Thumbnails

With the new Image components, you can apply the styling indications of a thumbnail to all image sizes, not just a small one, giving you more control over the look and feel of your interfaces.

We've also expanded the range of image sizes, adding some new ones like Gallery, which is a great way to present a collection of images with a uniform height.

If you'd like to learn more about styling images in your interfaces, check out the latest addition to the UX Style Guide: Images.

User Images

When it comes to showing people, we've added a new style option, Avatar, that lets you display any image with the Appian user style. The Avatar style crops the image into a circle, and standardizes the size of all images in the component.

User Image Type

We also added a new image type—the User Image, so it's easy to show your avatars wherever you need to, without a plugin.

Better Document Browsing

Navigating files and folders in Appian is now faster and more powerful.

In addition to the Document Browser, we added the Folder Browser, and the Document & Folder Browser components, giving designers more freedom to choose the best fit for your app.

With all three of these components, you can look forward to taking action from your selection, since Designers can now also store a selected folder and/or file.

More Rich Text Styles

Along with performance improvements, we also added a couple of new styles to the Rich Text Component. While we're often looking for options to draw attention to, or promote text in places, sometimes less is more, and in this release we're giving you options to diminish the prominence of text.

The new Secondary style is a great choice when you want to subtly differentiate information—like reference information, or contrast other, more important elements. While the Small style is great in headers and footers to conserve space.

Appian for BlackBerry MDM on Android

Formerly called "Appian for Good," Appian for BlackBerry is now supported for Android devices along with iOS. You can find it on the BlackBerry Marketplace

Designers

This release favors Designers in a big way. While Users can enjoy shorter load times on their heavier reports and record views, Designers will appreciate the new capabilities that let them do more, and do it faster.

Connecting to OAuth 2.0 Web Services

Appian now supports authorization code grant types for systems using OAuth 2.0.

oauth 2

Designers can now configure OAuth through a Connected System, allowing for a resuable connection across many integratons.

Instead of writing custom code, or using a plugin, Designers simply need to share a few parameters between Appian and the third-party system. The connected system can then be used in any Integration to give people access to their protected resources.

For more information about OAuth, see OAuth 2.0 Properties.

Customize Your Integration Results

We've added two new features to Integrations that give you more control and convenience when working with response content.

Set Custom Error Criteria and Messages

It's possible for Integrations to return a "successful" response status even when it doesn't successfully return the data you're looking for.

In the above example, the service didn't return a response that's successful for what we wanted to do. But, in 17.4, you don't need to write any error-handling workflows. You can simply decide what is and is not considered a "success" by defining your own error conditions. You can also write custom error messaging with a brand new function, a!integrationError.

Automatically Parse JSON Responses

Appian can now automatically parse a JSON response from an integration directly into an Appian value. This allows you to easily pull the information with dot notation, and removes the need to create a wrapper rule or expression around your integration to get response data.

Export Data Store Entity to Excel/CSV Smart Service

Here at Appian, we understand that we're also a part of a larger ecosystem of applications. We want our customers to be able to easily export and move their data between Appian and other systems, or reporting tools. That's why we're excited to announce the new Export Data Store Entity to Excel/CSV smart service.

export smart service

Appian queries data in batches to optimize memory use during an export so that Designers can use this smart service to safely export data from data store entities to Excel or CSV formats. This smart service allows Designers to specify the data store entity, along with what fields should be selected or aggregated. You can even apply filters, and specify which cell position or sheet number you want your data to start on in Excel. For CSV files, the smart service conveniently allows you to apply separators.

This smart service does all the heavy lifting of exporting your data and efficiently provides all files for you in one place. It supersedes the existing plugin in both functionality and stability.

Import Improvements

We've built on the import improvements from the last release with some awesome additions.

Expanded Optimized Import Coverage

Last release we introduced optimized import, which alerts you to potential conflicts in objects before importing them, and skips importing objects if there are no changes.

With this release, optimized import is now also available on:

  • Process Models
  • Data Stores
  • Web APIs
  • Reports
  • Connected Systems
  • Process Model Folders
  • Feeds

Better Inspect Dialogs

We’ve further enhanced the inspection dialogs to make the language clearer and to highlight the most important information.

Inspect warnings are now presented in a grid, similar to the display of problems introduced in 17.3.

The Import and Inspect dialog titles have been tailored to the action taking place. The list of objects with conflicts detected is now in a separate, more prominent section on the inspect dialog, and schema update messages are now called out near the top of the inspection results. See Data Store Deployment for more information.

We've also updated some labels for clarity:

  • "Change Status" column has been renamed to Inspection Status.
  • "Unknown" status has been renamed to Status Unavailable.
  • The button label on the Inspect dialog has been changed from "Import" to Import Package.

Moved the Import and Export Patch Buttons to a Better Location

The Import Patch and Export Patch buttons have been moved out of the way to the application header, rather than the contents toolbar. Now they are easily accessible as you navigate through your application.

We also made it so the Export Patch button won't appear until you add objects to the patch, so the buttons you see are tailored to the actions you can take.

Quality of Life

We've got a batch of improvements that, while individually small, collectively make building with Appian much better.

New Keyboard Shortcuts

Keyboard shortcuts are real time savers, and in this release, we've added a few more of them.

Save for Design Objects

When editing design objects, if there's a SAVE button, you can now use the CTRL/CMD + S shortcut to save instead.

Escape to Cancel/Close

Sometimes we hit the Esc key expecting it to close the current pop-up, or cancel the current action, even though nothing happens. Well, that's not the case anymore; you can now hit escape to do what you expect it to do while you're busy designing applications. Give it a try.

Interface Design View Now Supports Undo!

Now when you're working on an Interface in the Design View, you'll be able to use CTRL/CMD + Z to undo! Or you can click the new Undo button.

Add the wrong component? Undo!

Accidentally delete your validation expression before saving? Undo!

Expression Editors Autosuggest Data Types and Their Fields

Referring to data types got a lot easier. Now, as you start to type, Appian will suggest data types along with your other rules and functions. When your cursor is within your data type, we'll show you its fields, just like we do with function parameters.

The doc pane is handy for giving you the basic information for your selected functions or components, but sometimes we want access to the full page so we can see more:

Or, maybe you want to look at examples and see related content, we can jump you right there. Be on the lookout for embedded links where available.

Smart Default for Process Model Save Location

Similar to what we do for Rules and Constants, when you create a new process model, we'll take an educated guess on where you want to save it and suggest it as a default so you can create objects more quickly.

Security Summary Paging

In order for Designers to be able to efficiently view and maintain object security, we've added paging for the security summary that will kick in when there are more than 50 object groupings.

Simpler File Upload Handling

Uploaded file IDs are now static. Before, uploaded files got temporary IDs until they were stored, at which point they got their permanent ID. This meant that in order to record a permanent ID for an uploaded file, you had to first handle the file in a document field, then store its permanent ID later in the process.

With this change, that additional file handling is no longer necessary. Files are ascribed their permanent IDs as soon as they are uploaded, meaning you can record that ID immediately.

This change applies to uploading new files and uploading new versions of existing files.

Version Management from Appian Designer

We've added and extended the version management functionality in the Appian Designer environment, which now includes Constants and Query Rules.

Not only can you browse versions for selected objects, but you can also filter the list of versions and bulk delete them!

Don't worry, the bulk-delete feature won't ever delete the latest version, even if it's in the filter results.

Administrators

This section describes new features for administering Appian.

Users Can Now Select from Multiple IdPs on Their Login Screen

To help simplify the user experience, you can now display links for IdPs to let users choose where they want to go.

You'll find this option in the Admin Console on the SAML tab.

Remember User Sign-In Pages

Now that users can select where they want to sign in, we've added an option by which you can let them store that selection in a cookie, so they don't need to make that same selection every time they return.

Internationalization Settings Now Appear in the Admin Console

You can now configure internationalization settings from the Admin console.

LDAP Server Connection Timeout

Administrators can now configure how long the system will wait for a connection to be established to the LDAP server before falling back to the next LDAP server in the list of configured servers. The default value is 120 seconds.

Separate Log File for Slow Data Store Operations

In order to aid the identification of slow data store operations, any operation that take more than three seconds to complete is now also logged to the new perf_monitor_rdbms_slow.csv file in the <APPIAN_HOME>/logs/perflogs directory.

Document Management Usage Reports Moved to the Admin Console

Document management usage reports can now be found in the Admin console, on the Monitoring tab as Document Reports.

doc manager

Unlock Locked User Accounts

If a user account becomes locked, maybe as a result of too many failed login attempts, administrators can now unlock that user's account from the Admin Console.

Developer

The following features relate to extending Appian.

New Public API Methods for ImportResults

For those doing automated deployment, we've introduced two new methods to the ImportResults class to get the new information provided by the Import Improvements:

  1. Get conflicted objects (com.appiancorp.suiteapi.ix.ImportResults.getConflictedObjects)
  2. Get unchanged objects (com.appiancorp.suiteapi.ix.ImportResults.getNotChangedObjects)

We also updated the Javadocs for the getUpdatedObjects method to reflect that it excludes any objects that were skipped because they were not changed.

Appian Cloud

The following section describes changes that affect all Appian Cloud customers.

Self-Managed Updates to New Appian Versions

With Appian’s 17.4 release, Appian is enabling customers of Appian Cloud to better manage the rollout of a new release to all their Appian Cloud environments.

Once Appian Cloud environments are scheduled for an update, authorized technical support contacts will be able to reschedule the updates for each one of their environments directly through the Appian Community website.

Customers no longer need to create cases with Appian Technical Support to reschedule Appian Cloud updates. Customers will be notified via email when their sites are scheduled for updates, as usual. The email communication now includes links to the new system as well as step-by-step instructions to reschedule maintenance windows if necessary.

More information is available in the Appian Knowledge Base: KB-1403

Consolidated Log Access on Cloud

Logs for all servers in a multi-server Cloud site are now available at the URL <cloud-domain>/suite/shared-logs. A subdirectory for each server including the current server will allow navigating to the logs for any server in the site. The current server's logs remain available at <cloud-domain>/suite/logs.

Server Administration

This section describes new features for server administrators.

Appian Now Supports Windows 2016

We want to make sure everyone is able to leverage the latest technologies, so for customers interested in using Windows Server 2016, we've certified our platform for use on this operating system.

Appian Function Usage Logging

A new log file (appian-functions-details.csv) records how often some Appian functions are used. Function calls are no longer recorded in expressions-details.csv, though they are still recorded in expressions-trace.csv and expressions-summary.csv.

OpenJDK 8 Now Supported

OpenJDK 8 is now a supported version of Java for use when running JBoss.

Resolved Issues

This release resolves the issues listed below. To assist you in your update 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-79967 - Medium - When tabbing to a dropdown or multiple dropdown component, screen readers now announce the component's value.

  • AN-69032 - Medium - Site data metric logs now populate correctly when using Oracle or MS SQL Server as the primary data source.

  • AN-90039 - Medium - When an application timeout occurs with a open task submission form, selecting to resume the session no longers displays an error.

  • AN-88274 - Medium - Tempo navigation bar now loads correctly when opening a related action in a new window or refreshing the browser after a related action has been selected.

  • AN-91787 - Low - Keyword autosuggest now works correctly for a!queryProcessAnalytics.

  • AN-90284 - Low - When a user has a package with an unchanged data type and they use an import customization file with importSetting.FORCE_UPDATE set to true, the data type will now be force updated. Previously, import was skipped for those data types.

  • AN-76350 - Low - When a user has insufficient privileges to set the security for a process model folder, import will no longer create the folder and will instead throw an error. Previously, the process model folder would be created on import, but its security would not be set.

  • AN-76336 - Low - When a user has insufficient privileges to set the security for a process model, import will no longer create the model and will instead throw an error. Previously, the process model would be created on import, but its security would not be set.

  • AN-88086 - Low - When the latest version of an object has been deleted, the correct version of the object will continue to appear in the Objects view of Appian Designer.

  • AN-91343 - Low - You can now use quotation marks to search for phrases when searching News.

  • AN-89853 - Low - Checkbox components now work consistently even when the configurations for choice labels and choice values are not arrays.

  • AN-92185 - Low - The clear "X" on record filters is now keyboard accessible.

  • AN-91398 - Low - Empty grid messages now have the correct line height so text is more legible.

  • AN-64359 - Low - For sites with a mixture of SAML-authenticated users and non-SAML-authenticated users, those users who do not use SAML for authentication are no longer taken to the SAML login page when clicking the "Return to Appian" link after logout.

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 updating to this version.

Rules Tab in /designer

The Rules tab move to Appian Designer is complete as of this release. You can now browse rule folders directly from Appian Designer.

Some functionality was not carried over from the old environment:

ProcessPortService Class

The ProcessPortService class and related methods in the ServiceFactory and ServiceLocator classes have been removed from the public API:

  • com.appiancorp.suiteapi.process.ProcessPortService.bindIds
  • com.appiancorp.suiteapi.process.ProcessPortService.deserializeProcessModelForIx
  • com.appiancorp.suiteapi.process.ProcessPortService.findIds
  • com.appiancorp.suiteapi.process.ProcessPortService.generatePortXml
  • com.appiancorp.suiteapi.process.ProcessPortService.getProcessModelFromPortXml
  • com.appiancorp.suiteapi.process.ProcessPortService.importProcessModel
  • com.appiancorp.suiteapi.process.ProcessPortService.serializeProcessModel
  • com.appiancorp.suiteapi.common.ServiceFactory.getProcessPortService
  • com.appiancorp.suiteapi.common.ServiceLocator.getProcessPortService

Evolved Functions

The following functions or components have newer, improved versions in this release. Existing, old versions of these components in your applications will continue to function normally, but will be renamed on update to indicate that they are older versions. See Function and Component Versions for more information.

Image Component

imageField_173()

Document Browser

documentBrowserField_173()

Grid Image Column

gridImageColumn_173()

Behavior Changes

This release changes the following behaviors.

Warning Instead of Problem on Inspect and Import

The language for potential issue alerts when importing or inspecting patches has been changed from "Problem" to Warning.

datastore_warning

Inherited and Default Security for Top-Level Rule Folders

Top-level rule folder security has changed in several ways:

  • Because we're hiding the system root Rules and Constants folder, from which all top-level rule folders currently inherit security, new top-level rule folders will no longer inherit from it.
  • Existing top-level rule folders that already inherit from the system root will have this inheritance disabled and their previously-inherited roles and permissions copied over.
    • This migration ensures that security on existing rule folders will not change.
  • The Default (All Other Users) permission level when creating new rule folders is now No Access instead of Editor.
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