Interfaces can be designed visually, by dragging and dropping components, or programmatically, by generating components via expressions. This topic describes the features and functionality available when creating interfaces. If you are familiar with these concepts and want help in building your interface, please refer to the pages in the Build section of the documentation.
New interfaces are created from the context of an application. Use the New menu within an application to create a new interface and open it for editing.
For functional examples of different design patterns, see the Interface Recipes page. These examples will help you learn key component concepts and can be used as a starting point for your implementation.
When the interface has not yet been defined, a list of template options are available in design mode (shown below). These options give you a starting point from which to build your interface.
There are four categories of templates, (1) forms, (2) pages, (3) examples, and (4) builders.
All forms come with at least a submit and cancel button. The different options represent different arrangements of components and columns.
The Wizard-based templates each contain a functional, multi-page wizard with a confirmation at the end. To modify this for use in your interface, add your own components to the pre-defined pages and add new pages as necessary following the same pattern.
Outlines generate basic expressions for common layouts and use cases. These templates provide structural skeletons to use as a quick starting point that will be enhanced into a richer interface.
Pages provide only simple arrangements of columns and sections.
Examples are fully-formed interfaces that demonstrate the richness, density, and dynamism that Appian interfaces can offer. These templates are a great way to get ideas on how to display data and to learn how to apply best practices. However, as these templates generate complete expressions, inputs, and test data, it is not advised to use these templates as a starting point for a new interface.
ri!cancelto indicate that the form was not completed.
Builders allow you to quickly create an interface using existing data in your system.
The report builder is an interactive builder that leverages an existing data source. For information on the Report Builder, see Use the Report Builder.
This option will populate an interface with fields corresponding to the definition in a Custom Data Type (CDT). Simply select a CDT and the builder will do the rest.
Once the builder is done (it's really fast), you should see a basic form with CANCEL and SUBMIT buttons, and all fields defined in the CDT as components in the interface. The component type will be a best-match based on the data-type of the corresponding field. For example, a text field will be represented with a Text Component in the interface; a date field will be a Date Time Component, etc.
Your form will also come with 3 rule inputs:
true, the components will not be editable. This is a common design pattern for reusing the same interface as both the input form and the display form.
To modify the interface properties, go to Properties in the Settings menu, as shown below.
This opens the Interface Properties dialog, where you can modify the description, folder, and make the interface available for offline use. For more information about offline interfaces, see designing interfaces for offline use.
Each interface has the following properties.
|Name||The name that will be used when executing an interface. Names are case-insensitive and must be unique across interfaces, integrations, expression rules, query rules, constants, and functions. Interfaces can be renamed in Appian Designer, see Renaming Design Objects for more information.|
|Description||Supplemental information about the interface that is displayed in the inline help within the expression editor and the application contents grid.|
|Save In||The rule folder that the interface is saved into.|
|Make Available Offline||Makes an interface available for offline mobile. This property is only available if offline mobile is enabled for the environment in the Appian Administration Console.|
|Rule Inputs||Rule inputs are used to pass data in and out of an interface. Rule inputs are configured within the interface object.
|Default Test Values||A common test scenario that can be used when modifying or testing an interface. Default test values are configured within the interface object.|
|Interface Definition||The interface is defined using an expression that returns one or more interface components. The definition is configured within the interface object, using either design mode or expression mode.|
The security rolemap of the interface object itself controls who can see or modify the interface definition and properties.
The following actions can be completed by each role:
|Evaluate the interface||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|View the interface definition||Yes||Yes||Yes||No|
|Update the interface definition||Yes||Yes||No||No|
|View the security in the application view||Yes||Yes||No||No|
|Rename the interface||Yes||Yes||No||No|
|Delete the interface||Yes||No||No||No|
|Update the security||Yes||No||No||No|
By default, interfaces inherit the security of the folder that they are saved in. To view or modify the security of an interface, go to an application that contains the interface. Select it in the grid and then click the Security button in the grid toolbar. Unchecking the Inherit security from parent box will allow you to add new items to the rolemap or modify existing items.
The security of the interface that is viewed by the user is controlled by the Appian object that uses that interface. For example, to see the interface for a Tempo report, users need to have at least view rights to the Tempo report.
Security for the data displayed on an interface is based on the security of the underlying data source. Users must have at least view rights to the data to view it within an interface. If a user does not have view rights to part of the data on an interface, the interface may fail to load.
Note: Hiding data through interface expression configurations does not secure the underlying data. It only determines what does not display on the interface.
In general, the interface expression runs under the context of the user viewing the interface. In the specific case where a user is viewing a process task that has been accepted by another user, the interface expression runs under the context of the task owner (the user who accepted the task).
See the User Contexts for Expressions page for more information on what user context is used when evaluating activity class parameters.
Each time you modify and save an interface, a new version is created. All objects that use the interface will use the latest version. All versions are accessible to designers who can view the interface, and an interface can be reverted back to a previous version at any time.
For information on how to manage object versions, see Managing Object Versions.
When you save a new version of an interface, the latest version will be available immediately. This means that record views, reports, process tasks and other interfaces that use this interface will immediately use the new version. It is therefore important to carefully consider the impact on running processes when changing interface definitions.
Appian recommends that you follow these best practices to facilitate the change management of interfaces:
Adept designers can leverage several keyboard shortcuts to build interfaces more fluidly. There are general keyboard shortcuts that can be used for overall interface design, as well as keyboard shortcuts that enhance functionality specific to design mode and expression mode respectively.
The following keyboard shortcuts can be used in both design mode and expression mode:
The following keyboard shortcuts are for component-level actions in design mode:
The following keyboard shortcuts are available when interacting with the expression editor in an interface:
|Close find/replace dialog||ESC||ESC|
|Collapse/Expand code block||ALT+L||COMMAND+OPTION+L|
|Comment code block||CTRL+/||COMMAND+/|
|Delete group before cursor||CTRL+Backspace||OPTION+Backspace|
|Open find dialog||CTRL+F||COMMAND+F|
|Open find and replace dialog||CTRL+H||COMMAND+H|
|Move cursor before group||CTRL+Left||OPTION+Left|
|Move cursor after group||CTRL+Right||OPTION+Right|
|Move cursor to line start||Home||COMMAND+Left|
|Move cursor to line end||End||COMMAND+Right|
|Open object definition||CTRL+Click on object name||COMMAND+Click on object name|
|Select group before cursor||CTRL+SHIFT+Left||OPTION+SHIFT+Left|
|Select group after cursor||CTRL+SHIFT+Right||OPTION+SHIFT+Right|
|Select previous occurrence||SHIFT+ALT+Left||CTRL+OPTION+Left|
|Select next occurrence||SHIFT+ALT+Right||CTRL+OPTION+Right|
|Highlight all occurrences||Double Click Word||Double Click Word|
|Highlight all text inside||Double Click Parenthesis||Double Click Parenthesis|
In addition, expression editor toolbar provides you with a list of common actions that can be used when interacting with the expression editor:
Note: For a quick reference of these shortcuts as you are working, hover over the ? icon in the top right of the expression editor.
If your interface is intended to be used as a report or an application action, you can configure that within the interface using Save as… in the Settings menu.
Some fields in the Save As form may be pre-populated with information based on your interface definition and the application that contains the interface.
You can create a report directly from within the interface object. This automatically creates a report that calls the interface and makes it available from the Reports tab in Tempo.
To save an interface as a report, use the Report option in the Save Interface As dialog.
When created, the report is added to the selected application. Reports created this way use the same default security as reports created from the application itself, as described here.
You can create an application action directly from within the interface object. This automatically creates a process model with a start form that calls the interface, including a process parameter for each input, and creates an action on the selected application, making it available from the Actions tab in Tempo.
To save an interface as an action, use the Application Action option in the Save Interface As dialog.
You can use the Save & Edit button to open the process model and immediately begin building the rest of the process flow.
When created, the new process model is added to the selected application and the application is published. Process models created this way use the same default security as process models created from the application itself, as described here.