Appian Release Notes

Building and deploying applications

Record power

Your business data is more than just rows in a table; it represents the intersection of people and process, which is why Appian Records allow you to capture that greater understanding–not just the data schema. In this release, we further capitalize on this unique approach, letting you work with a better version of your data.

Your records, anywhere

With this release, you can now directly source record data from read-only grid. Unlike other sources, when you use record data, we get you started by adding the same columns you selected for the record list.

We also let you select any user filter you already configured for the record type and add it to the grid. Same goes for record actions.

Users will get the same advantages of the record list, including a search field, export to Excel, a refresh button, and saved filters.

The grid is also smarter; you don't need to specify which record fields you want to query for your columns, the grid will only query the record data for fields referenced by the columns. This means you can add and remove columns without needing to optimize a query every time.

Improved record list

We brought the same, design experience to the record list as well. This means you can now easily configure your columns and display options, and enjoy support for grid capabilities like multiple initial sorts and secondary sorts.

Better data handling

Working with record data in Appian is faster and more efficient thanks to two changes in how you reference record data:

  1. Streamlined data flow
    Each record type now has its own unique data type that you can reference by name, just as you can with CDTs. This provides design efficiency to things like passing a record to a summary view as simply as rule!APN_SummaryView(customer: rv!record). And, just as it does for the read-only grid, Appian will only query for the fields you reference in the interface.

  2. Direct field references in expressions
    With direct record type field references, we know more about those fields and their data, which allows us to validate the fields you reference when you import. And, because we know more about your fields, we can give you a better way of designing with them, like auto-suggesting and browsing for record fields.

Improved records query

There are still places where you may want to query record data from an expression. To accomplish this, we've introduced a new function, a!queryRecordType, that improves the query experience, and lets you create easier-to-read expressions.

You'll also appreciate added error handling for events outside of your control, like your data source being unavailable, or a user not having the right permissions. This lets you decide what to do next, instead of having these errors break your process, or bubble up to your interface.

a!queryRecordType also provides support for things the queryrecord function didn't, such as:

  • Sorting on multiple fields
  • Automatically sorting on the primary key as the final sort
  • Using the fetchTotalCount parameter that was previously released for a!queryEntity

Sync source data in Appian

Appian is investing in making it easier for low-code developers to work with enterprise data. In 20.3, Appian is introducing a new Appian Records capability that syncs your external RDBMS or Salesforce data in Appian. Much like how web browsers and mobile phones cache local data for faster queries and real-time interaction, Appian's data sync allows you to cache that source data in Appian on a daily basis, rather than run dozens or hundreds of queries a minute against it. So long as you don't need more frequent updates from the source, this is a clever way to enable fast queries and improved application performance.

UI power

We're giving you more power and flexibility to create UIs that your users will love. This release introduces transparent page backgrounds, a new stamp component, loading bar color configurations, searchable dropdowns, and more!

New chart heights and minimal styles

We've added new chart heights to make it easier to create dense, data-rich reports. Use the short, medium, and tall heights on all chart types to provide more variety and view more information on a single page. We've also added a special micro size for bar, column, and line charts to track overall trends. Along with these heights, you can use new styles for the axes for a more minimalistic look.

Set a transparent background on your interfaces

You can now configure the background color that interfaces are displayed on by using header content layout. Choose between the default white background or a transparent background for your pages. In the example below, the transparent content layout on this landing page allows the cards to stand out. The transparent background option helps achieve a modern and visually appealing look.

Use the new stamp component to add flair

The stamp component displays an icon in a circular background. Configurable icons and background colors make it easy to use stamps to add visual interest to your page. This feature is perfect for drawing attention to important content and reduces the need for custom images.

Add variety with pie chart styles and legends

New pie chart style options enable more polished dashboards. Choose whether series labels are hidden or displayed in a legend, both of which provide consistent sizing if multiple charts are on the same page. The new donut style gives a cleaner look with large pies and also makes comparisons between similar data values easier.

Search in dropdowns

Have a lot of options in your dropdowns? Not to worry! We’ve evolved the dropdown and multiple dropdown components to include search capabilities on web and mobile. Search can be automatically activated on longer lists, or you can control it yourself.

More flexibility for layout and display components

Expanded header content layout

We've continued to improve on the header content layout that was released in 20.1. The layout allows designers to create a flush billboard or card header at the top of the page, and in this release you can now use lists of cards, billboards, or both. This feature makes the Header Content Layout even more flexible for you to achieve the look you want!

Warn color

We’ve added a new pre-defined “warn” color on the gauge and progress bar components. This enhancement makes it easier to select a consistent color across interfaces.

Hide percentage label on the progress bar

You now have the option to show or hide the percentage label on the progress bar. Use this option to turn off the percentage label when showing general completion is more important than specific percentages.

Gauge tooltip

We’ve added a tooltip parameter to the gauge component that displays on mouse hover or keypress. You can use this parameter to give more context about the information shown on a gauge to your customers.

Card and box padding

Larger cards often need to have more padding inside them than smaller cards to achieve balance. This feature gives you the ability to adjust the amount of padding from the outer edge of a card or box layout to the components inside. To do this, use the new padding parameter on the card or box layout.

Loading bar color

We’ve added the ability for you to set the color of the loading bar that appears at the top of the page. You can choose between the accent color or any custom color in the site designer and the Administration Console. Use this feature to better match corporate branding or to make the loading bar more prominent. In addition, we updated the timing and animation on the loading bar for a better user experience.

More interface designer patterns

We’re committed to providing new interface examples for you to work with every release. Check out the examples and patterns in Interface Designer to get inspiration for your next interface.

Extract more data from your documents

We continue to add more options and built-in power to our intelligent document extraction capabilities! This release introduces some of the most requested enhancements, including support for table and checkbox data extraction. We also continue to enhance the reconcile interface to make it easier to use.

Extract tables and checkboxes

You can now select data from tables and checkboxes in the reconciliation interface. The best part is Appian learns from this manual reconciliation process, just like other fields. Automated extraction improves over time, leading to more complete and accurate results with fewer manual exceptions.

Improved extraction for structured forms

We improved how many fields we are able to extract automatically. For structured documents that often follow a set template, Appian will learn positional information as documents are being manually processed. By combining this structured extraction with our AI-based extraction, we're able to deliver straight-through processing for even more of your documents.

Extract data from PDFs with fillable forms

We now automatically parse PDFs with fillable forms and extract data using the available digitized information in the document.

Scrolling and styling improvements

Independent scrolling for longer lists of fields allows you to manage complex extraction tasks with ease. And new styling based on the field type makes it even easier to map your data!

Easily identify unreferenced objects

As you develop your application, your objects and their usage evolve over time. The Unreferenced Objects view surfaces unused objects in your application, whether they’re temporary test interfaces or expression rules that have become unnecessary. Now it’s easier to maintain and clean up your workspace!

Review plug-in usage with impact analysis (Preview)

You can now quickly understand where your applications use plug-ins with precedent and dependent tracing! In this release, we’re adding a plug-ins sub-tab in Appian Designer. This view allows developers to see the plug-ins available in the environment, compare plug-ins across environments, and find the objects that depend on a particular plug-in. Relevant plug-ins will also now appear when you view the precedents of a design object. Evaluate the impact of upgrading to a new plug-in version or safely refactor your applications to remove a deprecated plug-in.

Application deployments

Automate post-deployment workflows

We know that after your application is deployed, there’s still more to do–whether it’s running tests, managing your users and groups, or kicking off a workflow in another system. These steps can now be automated through a process model that initiates once your direct deployment finishes. You can configure the process to do what you need instead of manually performing these steps, helping you to save time, avoid mistakes, and customize the deployment process to your organization’s needs.

Directly deploy stored procedures

Appian’s compare and deploy functionality now allows you to create, modify, and execute stored procedures! This streamlines the deployment of database scripts, removing an otherwise manual step.

Relevant plug-ins in compare and deploy (Preview)

In the last release, we made it possible to deploy plug-ins across environments using the compare and deploy wizard. In this release, we’ve made it easier for you to review and select plug-ins for deployment by filtering the list to show only plug-ins that are referenced by objects in your package by default.

In addition, we’ve improved deployment package inspection to detect missing plug-ins in a target environment, and warn you about plug-in version mismatches between environments. From the inspection results, you can add missing plug-ins to your package and continue with a more validated and reliable deployment package.

Updated test cases check during deployment

We’ve updated the existing expression rule test coverage check during deployment to check for rules with failing test cases or outdated test results. Now when a warning is triggered during deployment, you’ll be able to manage your test cases and quickly identify which rules have failing tests or should have their test cases run again.

New email option for Create User smart service

When you're using external authentication, like LDAP or SAML, there is no need for users to receive username and password information from Appian. Now, you can configure the Create User smart service and a!createUser function to conditionally send the account creation email that includes the temporary password.

New data type: map

You may have used the map data type before when working with decisions, but now in 20.3, you can use the map type throughout your applications. Similar to dictionaries, maps hold data in key value pairs, but we think you'll find they're even easier to work with and can simplify your expressions. You can create a map in your expression using a!map().

New function: a!listType()

The new a!listType() function provides a simple way to reference the list version of a specific data type. Simply provide the function with the type number or type reference of the type whose corresponding list type should be returned.

Making expressions better

Indent guidelines

The new indent guide in the expression editor allows you to navigate and read your expressions with ease. You can highlight a specific indent line by clicking on it, which enables you to quickly find the beginning and end of a section.

Smarter expression formatting

The formatting tool, also sometimes referred to as the “magic wand,” in the expression editor has been enhanced to minimize unnecessary white space. Additionally, the format button now works on a selection of an expression too. Simply highlight the lines you want to format, and click the format button or use the keyboard shortcut.

Formatted expression outputs

The collapsible tree view of expression outputs has been added to more locations throughout the application design experience. It was already available as the primary output when testing expression rules. Now, it is also available to view the values of test inputs to expression rules, as well as the output when viewing a single test case. In addition, the collapsible tree view is also available as the primary output when testing decisions.

Test case management

View previous test case results

In this release, we’ve enhanced Manage Test Cases to display your latest test case results! Now, you’ll quickly be able to tell at-a-glance which expression rules have failing test cases that need to be addressed and which are missing test coverage. Appian will also highlight any expression rules whose test case results are outdated, letting you know exactly which test cases you should run again.

Run test cases from an object’s dependents view

We’ve also added the ability to run all test cases for direct dependent expression rules from within an object’s dependents view. Confidently make updates to your objects, knowing that it’s easy to check if your latest changes broke dependent test cases.

See information about your Appian environment

Have you ever had questions about your site’s system information? Or questions about its data source versions or High Availability status? With this release we’ve added a new option in the navigation menu available to both designers and system administrators called About Appian.

Here, you’ll find information about your site’s system configurations, data sources, and links to a variety of helpful resources–including links to contact Appian Support and access to our latest hotfix release notes. We’ve also made it possible to export this information so that it can be easily audited or shared.

Data type recommendation dismissal

In 20.2 we introduced design-time recommendations for data types. With this release we’ve added the ability to also dismiss those recommendations. If you determine that no change is required based on a recommendation, you can acknowledge the guidance and hide it for that data type going forward.

Better language support in the Process Modeler

The Process Modeler now shows more process node labels and instructions in the developer’s preferred language, as selected in User Settings. This improvement continues Appian’s investments in supporting our global community of application developers.

Appian RPA

Streamlined execution of robotic processes from process models

With the new Execute Robotic Process smart service, integrating RPA into your business processes is now easier than ever. Instead of asynchronously executing the robotic process and polling for the results, the new smart service will wait for your robotic process to complete and return the results before moving on to the next node in your process model. Not only does this greatly simplify the design, but it also means you get the results immediately, improving the efficiency of your process!

Manage your own repository access

You can now easily push your own code to Appian RPA. Instead of relying on administrators to provide credentials, developers can refresh and view their own keys for deploying code. The Configurator has also been updated to help set up this new credential.

Appian RPA developers may need to make some manual updates to their development environments as part of this update.

Create robotic process templates

Developers can now save and share any robotic process as a template. Templates help users quickly create fully functioning bots without needing to recreate common actions for different applications. Developers can then share their different robotic templates on the App Market. You can go to the App Market now to find pre-made templates!

Turn-key RPA deployments

Deploying robotic processes is now faster and simpler than ever! No longer will you need to keep track of all of your robotic process dependencies, or need to create or modify objects after deployment. We will package the libraries and credentials that your robotic process references automatically, allowing you to successfully execute your bot immediately upon deployment. With this feature, RPA deployments are more automated and reliable, saving you time and effort!

Mobile

Increase user engagement through custom push notifications

You can now deliver timely and relevant information to your mobile users using the new Send Push Notification Smart Service. You can specify a title, a message, and a link to open when users tap on the notification, allowing you to send real-time updates and reminders to your users. For more information, see Send Push Notification Smart Service.

Client Certificate Access

With Client Certificate Access, users can import a certificate into the Appian for Mobile Devices app, which can be used to ensure that access to the Appian server on your organization's internal network is restricted to authorized clients. This feature also enables access to certificates derived from the user's smart card credentials, as required for Common Access Card (CAC) authentication. To use this feature, simply enable the client certificate access property in your MDM portal.

Specify default browser

You can now specify a default browser to be used in the Appian for Mobile Devices app to enable your mobile users to seamlessly and securely connect to your corporate network without a VPN. The specified browser is used during authentication and for opening links to external web pages. You can specify the browser to be used in your MDM portal.

Save and manage multiple record filters on any device

Easily reuse filtering criteria by creating multiple named filters on mobile devices. Users can create, edit, and delete up to 10 named filters on any record list or read-only grid that uses record data as a source.

Administration

Delete plug-ins

Have deprecated or unused plug-ins that you want to delete from your environments? Administrators on Appian Cloud, and for self-managed environments, can now delete plug-ins with the click of a button! Similar to single object deletions, plug-in deletions include a preview dependency scan so that you can review all object dependencies and address them before deciding whether to proceed with the deletion.

More direct deployment configuration options

Enable direct deployments from specific environments

It's important to have the proper guardrails and controls over how deployments are performed. We’ve provided more granular settings so that you can selectively enable deployments from a subset of the environments in your infrastructure. As an example, you can configure your production environment to accept direct deployments from your test environment, while blocking direct deployments from your development environment. Prevent deployment mistakes while preserving the ability to more broadly compare and monitor across environments!

Execute direct deployments with service accounts

You can now select or create a service account user to execute direct deployments. Since service account users are never automatically deactivated, using one to execute deployments will minimize potential disruptions to your deployment process. In addition, service accounts are prevented from logging in to Appian so their credentials cannot be used for unauthorized activities.

Custom typeface

You can now use a custom typeface for your site-based applications to strengthen your company’s brand identity. The font files and typeface specified in the administration console now get applied consistently on web and mobile platforms.

Server administration

Automatic engine restarts

Over time, all engines build up data caches which reduce their available memory space. Previously, this space could not be reclaimed until a scheduled or forced restart of the engine. Not anymore! Now, for all High Availability configurations, all engines will automatically reclaim memory after checkpointing.

Appian Cloud

MariaDB as the Appian Cloud database

The Appian Cloud database is now powered by MariaDB! With MariaDB, Appian is unlocking many powerful database features on Appian Cloud sites in the upcoming releases. All new Appian Cloud sites starting with Appian 20.3 will use MariaDB as the database.

Existing sites using MySQL database will be upgraded to MariaDB by Appian in a phased manner during the course of the next two quarters. Existing sites can be upgraded to Appian 20.3 and can continue to use the MySQL database. A notification will be sent in advance if your site is being upgraded to MariaDB along with the Appian upgrade. For most Appian Cloud customers, no application changes or actions will be required to use MariaDB. To know more about the transition of existing Appian sites to MariaDB, please visit MariaDB Upgrade Guide page.

Cloud Environment Visualization

The Cloud Environment Visualization shows static VPN tunnel and AWS PrivateLink connections between a customer’s Appian Cloud instances and their external resources. Customers can view configuration details for these connections by interacting with the visualization.

Bring Your Own Key Migration Support

Bring Your Own Key (BYOK) now supports migrating from one configuration to another. This means that if you previously configured your Appian Cloud environment(s) to utilize the AWS CloudHSM configuration, you can now move your environment(s) to utilize the newly introduced AWS KMS capability, or vice versa.

Insights

Insights is a centralized location to access content related to your Appian journey and is now available on Appian Community.

Health

A new way to gain Insights into your health check results. Request a health check, view historical trending of findings, and ignore findings. Cloud customers can also view insights into platform metrics and configurations, as well as connectivity visualizations.

Support

Designated Support Contacts can navigate to the Support tab to update and interact with support cases, to manage account details, and to download platform installers and solution applications.

Resolved issues

  • AN-156900 - Medium
    Selected record view tabs now show visible indication of focus to meet WCAG accessibility requirements.

  • AN-159401 - Medium
    The ellipses icon in the multiple dropdown and multiple dropdown by index components is now part of the tab order to meet WCAG accessibility requirements.

  • AN-139843 - Low
    Rich text icons with standalone link style now show visible indication of focus to meet WCAG accessibility requirements.

  • AN-159541 - Low
    The site tab icon on single-tab sites is now hidden from screen readers to meet WCAG accessibility requirements.

Evolutions

All dropdown components, including a!dropdownField, a!dropdownFieldByIndex, a!multipleDropdown, and a!multipleDropdownFieldByIndex have been evolved in this release. The new version allows searching.

Deprecations

The feature below is 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 the deprecation.

Minor versions in process models

Minor versions in process models are now deprecated and will be removed in a future release of Appian. Instead of creating new minor versions, save process models using major versions.

Removals

Removed support for Windows Server 2008 R2 and Windows 7

Windows Server 2008 R2 and Windows 7 are no longer supported platforms. Customers who run these versions of Windows should upgrade to a more recent version of Windows.

Behavior changes

SAML assertion validation

To enhance the security posture of our authentication framework, we added some additional validation around SAML assertions during the sign-in process. This means some assertions from a misconfigured SAML Identity Provider that passed validation in previous versions of Appian might not anymore, which could result in users being unable to sign into Appian. If you use SAML to authenticate to Appian, the best way to be sure that your SAML Identity Provider is not misconfigured, and that this will not affect your site, is to upgrade a non-production environment that uses that identity provider. If you encounter problems with this process, open a case with Appian Support for assistance.

Task and document download URLs

We have updated the links for tasks and document downloads to use an alphanumeric string instead of the identifier of the task or document in the URL. This provides consistency with references to records which already use this behavior and provides an extra layer of security. A new function, a!urlForTask(), is also introduced to return the alphanumeric URL for a task given the identifier, and the document() function now contains a property to access the alphanumeric URL.

Customers with new environments starting in 20.3 will only use the new URL style. Any customers upgrading from 20.2 or earlier will have support for both the new and old style of the URL; customers who upgraded can also request their environments only support the new URL style. Please see the object URL documentation for guidance to decide which option is best.

Tooltips

We have added a short delay on the appearance of all tooltips. This will help you and your users navigate the page without a tooltip appearing unnecessarily.

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