This page describes the features and functionality available when creating interfaces.
Interfaces can be designed, visually by dragging and dropping components, or programmatically, by generating components via expressions. If you are familiar with these concepts and want help in building your interface, see the pages in the Build section of this collection.
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.
To create an interface object, select New > Interface in the application view. Appian displays an interface ready for you to define.
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 form 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, it is not advised to use these templates as a base that you edit to create your own interface. These examples are configured to use specific test data, and you would have to spend significant time editing the example template to adapt the expressions and inputs to your business case.
Builders allow you to quickly create an interface using existing data in your system.
This option will populate an interface with fields corresponding to the definition in a Custom Data Type (CDT). Simply select a CDT, and choose whether you want the interface to be editable, read-only, or both—then the builder will do the rest. Once the builder is done (it's really fast), Appian displays the generated interface.
All fields defined in the CDT appear 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.
To create an interface based on a CDT:
This generated interface contains the following components:
|The CDT name with prefix and underscores removed.
|The CDT name with prefix and underscores removed.
|An editable input component for each field in the selected CDT.
|A read-only input component for each field in the selected CDT.
|An input component for each field in the selected CDT. These input components are configured to be editable or read-only based on the readOnly rule input.
|Cancel and Submit
|Cancel and Submit
|selected CDT and cancel
|selected CDT, cancel, and readOnly
These rule inputs and interface components are connected as follows:
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. See Reusing Interfaces for more information.
While editing your interfaces you may encounter design guidance. Appian design guidance reinforces best practice design patterns that should be implemented in your objects. Design guidance for interfaces is calculated while editing expressions within the interface or when a precedent of the interface is updated.
When a recommendation or warning is triggered, you'll see an indicator icon in the header (A) and next to the corresponding line in the expression editor (B).
Click on the icon in the header to learn more about the suggested guidance (C) and how it can be addressed.
If a recommendation is not applicable to your use case, you can Dismiss (D) that individual recommendation for that interface. Learn more about recommendation dismissal. Warnings cannot be dismissed and should always be addressed to avoid complications when the logic in the object is executed.
Interface guidance is also visible outside of interfaces on the Health Dashboard.
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 our offline mobile overview.
Each interface has the following properties.
|The name that will be used when executing an interface. Names are case-insensitive, but we recommend following the recommended naming standard. Interfaces can be renamed in Appian Designer; see Renaming Design Objects for more information.
|Supplemental information about the interface that is displayed in the inline help within the expression editor and the application contents grid.
|The rule folder that the interface is saved into.
|Make Available Offline
|Makes an interface available for offline mobile. Only applicable if offline mobile is enabled for the environment in the Admin Console. Only enable if you have users who need to use the interface offline. On mobile, offline enabled forms will function as if they aren’t connected to the server, even when online. This may affect your interface design and functionality, so fully test offline interfaces on a mobile device. To learn about offline mobile and how it impacts interface design, check out the Offline Mobile Overview and our Design Best Practices for Offline Mobile.
|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.
|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.
Any user can invoke any interface that is used by a process, record view, report, or site page they can access. For example, if a user is a member of a group that has Viewer permissions to a Tempo report, they will, by default, be able to view the report's interfaces.
The security role map of an interface controls which developers can see or modify it and its properties. By default, interfaces inherit the security of the folder that they are saved in. See Editing Object Security to modify an interface's security.
The following table outlines the actions that can be completed for each permission level in an interface's security role map:
|Evaluate the interface
|View the interface definition
|Duplicate the interface
|Update the interface definition
|View the security
|Rename the interface
|Delete the interface
|Update the security
Security for the data displayed on an interface is based on the security of the underlying data source. Users must have at least Viewer permissions to the data to view it within an interface. If a user does not have Viewer permissions 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.
Developers with Viewer permissions to this object can duplicate it. There are two ways to duplicate an object with a designer:
Once you select the Duplicate option, you will see the following dialog:
NOTE: You can only duplicate the most recent version of an object. If you have unsaved changes and attempt to duplicate the object from within the designer, the most recent saved version of the object will be duplicated without the unsaved changes. A banner appears when there are unsaved changes to remind you before duplicating.
Duplication from within an object is available for interfaces, expression rules, integrations, and decisions. Constants, in addition to the previously mentioned object types, can be duplicated from the toolbar button from anywhere within an application's context.
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
|Collapse/Expand code block
|Comment code block
|CTRL+Click on new constant name
|COMMAND+Click on new constant name
|Create constant dialog
|Delete group before cursor
|Highlight all occurrences
|Double click word
|Double click word
|Highlight all text inside
|Double click parenthesis
|Double click parenthesis
|Launch the Query Editor
|Move cursor before group
|Move cursor after group
|Move cursor to line start
|Move cursor to line end
|Open find dialog
|Open find and replace dialog
|Open object definition
|CTRL+Click on object name
|COMMAND+Click on object name
|Save Selected Expression As…
|Select group before cursor
|Select group after cursor
|Select previous occurrence
|Select next occurrence
|Show/Hide indent guide
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.
After clicking Save, you will be prompted to set security on your new report. The report will automatically be added to the selected application.
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.
After clicking Save, you will be prompted to set security on your new process model. The process model will automatically be added to the selected application and the application will be published.