ViewsFlash 10.1 release notes

A questionnaire can be created from a plain text file that describes questions and answers using a simple syntax, suitable for collaboration.

Images can be uploaded for each question and its answers. This avoids the need to upload images by other means and entering their urls manually.

ViewsFlash 10 release notes

Release 10 includes often requested functional enhancements.

Application enhancements

The ViewsFlash Help documentation now includes a Search function available to logged in users. The green New icon is shown the first three times the page is viewed.

When Using the Layout style, HTML questions can now be positioned in 2D layouts. Validation error messages above a question, such as "Response required", now wrap to the text of the question, making the error messages much more readable in compact forms. A new option, CogixAnswerColumnsSorted, splits a large set of radio buttons or checkboxes into multiple columns and sorts them alphabetically.

The Layout style already uses Javascript statements such as CogixPosition ("questionname",200,100) to place questions on the page and various other tasks. Now it can also include javascript functions that validate form responses before the page is accepted as correct. You can also write complicated functions, such as calculating an extended BMI from height, weight and age, and use them with Calculate style. The new built-in functions are explained in detail under Javascript functions and they are: CogixString, CogixNumber, CogixIsInteger, CogixIsNumber, CogixSet, CogixAnswered, CogixMessage, CogixWhenSubmitted, CogixValidate, CogixInvalid, CogixAnswered, CogixAnsweredThis, CogixCountChecked, CogixCountCheckedThis .

The Calculate style now works with check boxes, adding the values of the selected boxes. It also uses any Javascript function, including those mentioned above. As usual, the result can be used by DisplayOrHide to perform complex question hiding. A new option makes the calculated result appear as plain text rather than an input field, and the result field is removed from the tab sequence.

Try the new Example 4 "health", that has been added to the Examples place. Review its setup in your system so you can see how It illustrates the capabilities described above.

The Display or Hide style has a new option, "disable". Instead of making hidden questions disappear altogether, this option leaves the questions and form fields visible, but disables the controls so that they cannot be used and colors the entire question differently to indicate that the question is not applicable.

Multiple customized E-mails can now be sent when a questionnaire is completed, rather than just one. Each e-mail can include different uploaded files as attachments. Apostrophes are now allowed in e-mail addresses, such as bernardo.o'

The Upload style provides a better user experience with progress indicators. It now checks for maximum file size, allowable extension and legitimate file name characters in the browser before attempting to upload the file. It performs these checks again on the server if the browser checks are bypassed. File name characters checking is configured with the upload.strictfilename servlet parameter. By default, only letters, numbers, space, underscore and dash are allowed in uploaded file names.

Data reports now include an option to configure download links to files uploaded with questionnaires that do not require logging in to the ViewsFlash application, allowing anyone with the link to download the file.

Custom filters can now be used in the Data, Univariate and Crosstabulation reports when data is stored in a questionnaire's own table. The filter can use arbitrary WHERE and ORDER BY clauses, such as:
(In Oracle) WHERE country='USA' AND residence='USA' AND ROWNUM < 10 ORDER BY age DESC
(MySQL) WHERE country='USA' AND residence='USA' ORDER BY age DESC

Excel xlsx file format is now available for downloading Data and Univariate reports for greater compatibility with current Office versions. This option is set automatically for reports that specified [x] view in excel. Reports that are emailed periodically, such as all new records in a Data report, can also be sent as an xlsx attachment.

On the Place page menu, the options Export Selected as XML and Import XML have been removed. They are replaced by Download to Export and Upload to Import. These new options overcome problems with XML files that omitted many settings and were unreliable. The Upload option will accept an XML file created by earlier versions for backward compatibility. The deprecated xml import/export options can be enabled with the xmlexport=true servlet parameter, but are not recommended. Staging continues to work unchanged and continues to be the recommended way to migrate questionnaires from one enviornment to another. Download and Upload are best suited when sending copies of questinnaires to support personnel.

Upgrading notes

See the revised Upgrading instructions and the Upgrading Styles instructions, especially if using Liferay 7. In a non-portal environment, this is a very straight forward upgrade. In liferay 7, revising the Form styles is required.

If upgrading from a release earlier than 9, please continue reading the Release Notes for all versions newer than yours.

ViewsFlash 10 writes data to a temporary directory on the file system at the location set by environment variable This is the standard Java tmp directory.

March 2019

ViewsFlash 9 release notes

In release 9, the entire ViewsFlash application has been visually redesigned for a better user experience with a contemporary look and typography, resulting in a more pleasing and consistent User Interface throughout the application.

Application enhancements

The Standard form style has been upgraded and questionnaires that use it will automatically experience the improvements. Respondents can now use the Enter key to navigate to the next page; buttons are cleaner and show their state (focused, pressed) very clearly; a moving bar makes it clear when the form has been sent to the server; a locking mechanism prevents the form from being submitted twice; a contemporary progress bar is used; and button text is easily customized in the General page.

The most reequested new feature is Periodic e-mail Reports. The Data, Univariate Analysis, Crosstabulation and Quick Look reports can now be sent by e-mail, either embedded or as an attachment, including graphs, The reports can include all data, or just the data in the most recent hour, day, week, month, or quarter, and can be e-mailed periodically at a similar frequency without requiring any intervention. The ViewsFlash Administrator can view a listing of all these reports from the Setup page.

E-mail sending has been improved throughout. Uploaded files can be included as attachments when sending e-mail by just checking the box next to the upload question. The e-mail is now sent in the background, so that there is no longer a delay when the Submit button is pressed. Similarly, reports also send e-mail in the background. e-mail sending now retries and recovers from transient mail server failures.

This release also introduces the popular Two Qualities matrix, which allows measuring two atributes about a set of topics side by side in the same matrix. For example, the level of Satisfaction and the level of Importance assigned to air travel amenities such as comfort, on time, cost, and cachet. A new Example named Two Qualities is included in the Examples place that illustrates two different ways to use this insightful matrix. The Two Qualities matrix can be created using the Matrix Wizard or by hand, question by question.

After a database performance review, all operations that use the Normalized Table to store data have speeded up dramatically. Data capture is 20% faster. Reports now run between 200% and 600% faster. Contention between data capture and running reports on very large data sets has disappeared.

Many enhancements for the ViewsFlash Administrator are included, such as better startup logging and a revised Diagnose display. The "Where used" option in Styles and Invitation Lists pages can be restricted to just the selected items. The display shows which Places and Questionnaires use them, and you can now click on them to navigate there.

System administration enhancements

An Express Installation procedure requires nothing more than creating a ViewsFlash datasource and deploying the war file to the application server. Existing servlet parameter configurations continue to work unmodified.

A new step by step Upgrading guide is available for getting up and running with the latest version.

For maximum performance in heavy traffic sites, we now recommend setting the storeflushtime servlet parameter to 10000 (msec) or more. This can speed up throughput several fold. Heavy traffic means more than 10 requests per minute sustained load, which can happen when using ViewsFlash with live television events, for example.

This release supports the Oracle high performance driver that provides a performance gain throughout the application, bypassing the application server.

Two new servlet parameters give additional configuration flexibility. Setting noreports to true disables background reports from running on this server, guaranteeing server availability for handling high volumes of requests. Setting purge to a number of days will remove obsolete and unused .vote records from the VWFOBJECTS table.

PostgreSQL 9 is supported.

March 2016

ViewsFlash 8.4 release notes

This release introduces a new Web Services API command that can be used to find out if a specific questionnaire has never been started, or is in progress, or has been completed. Another command allows for submitting a questionnaire in progress or reopening a questionnaire that has already been submitted. See getvotestatus API reference.

ViewsFlash 8.3 release notes

This release allows file attachments, uploaded with the Upload style, to be included when sending e-mail.

ViewsFlash 8.2 release notes

In this release, new tags allow formatting lists of question names and values in forms and results pages and when using the Web Services so that they can be expressed cleanly, as explained in Using JSON and JSONP.

A new option in the List Editor menu allows toggling questions from required to not required.

A new Data Reports style, ExcelTableAsXMLDataReport, allow downloading data in XML format that formats nicely when imported into Excel for Windows.

ViewsFlash 8.1 release notes

ViewsFlash 8.1 introduces a new way to create and deploy multiple language questionnaires where a single questionnaire is created and the text of questions and answers is extracted to property files that can be downloaded for translation and uploaded for use in the single survey which is presented in the language of the users' browser. Other options are available as well.

Logging enhancement: all entries written to a questionnaire's log are also written to the main ViewsFlash log.

ViewsFlash 8 release notes

ViewsFlash 8 replaces the Home page with a personalized Dashboard giving users tools for inspecting and navigating to the questionnaires and data that they are actively working on immediately.

The entire application has been visually redesigned to take advantage of a more attractive look possible with contemporary browsers. IE6 is no longer supported by the application, but can still be used for filling out questionnaires.

The Apple iPad is supported by default. Questionnaires automatically render in the best possible way in both contemporary browsers (IE8 and above) and the iPad and other tablets.

For administrators, new application management facilities are available from the Dashboard: who are the Recent Users of the system, what are open Active Surveys, and an improved display of who has Access Rights.


ViewsFlash 7 release notes

ViewsFlash 7 introduces significantly enhanced capabilities for creating sophisticated questionnaires and forms and interoperating with existing systems.

Notes for system administrators

New training and learning aids

New questionnaire and form features

System administration


ViewsFlash 6.2 release notes

ViewsFlash 6.2 introduces several new features. Data reports now allows displaying the human-readable text of the respondent's answer, rather than the value stored in the database. Another enhancement to Data reports allows appending an additional filter in the report URL.
An enhancement to the Participants API allows including additional fields in e-mail-invitations. An enhancement to the Web Services API allows for programmatic survey creation and for retrieving a complete questionnaire definition as XML.

ViewsFlash 6.1 introduces several new features. Script actions now have easy ways to access Java request and response objects, as well as methods for redirecting the browser after saving and submitting entered data.

ViewsFlash 6 introduced numerous usability enhancements, including a simpler Question Editor, consolidation of the Live Tally and Summary pages, and the removal of the Bulk Vote, Remove Entries, and Set Rank legacy polling functions which are no longer in general use (but can be enabled when needed). A Level option is added to MyViewsFlash, which allows beginner uses to take advantage of the most commonly used features while hiding others that are often not needed.

The entire application, from user interface, to reports and questionnaire look and feel, have been visually upgraded for a more pleasant and effective experience, the HTML editor has been integrated throughout the application, and the Matrix and Grid wizards have been upgraded for ease of use and detailed control over presentation. Altogether, these enhancements make ViewsFlash significantly easier to use without compromising its power.

The standard Response page and the standard Results Style have been updated so that the image, header, and footer fields from the General page are used automatically in the Response page by default. This creates a more standard look throughout the questionnaire and its response page. A new section in the Response page allows for presenting the response message in the body of the page, between the header and footer.

The Data, Univariate, Cross Tabulation, and Live results reports have been redesigned. Univariate Reports now can be enriched by adding text and HTML using questions created with the ReportText question style. Cross Tabulations include a new option for shading report cells according to their content, so that cells with a low percentage are light while cells with a high percentage are strong. This pattern helps spot relationships visually in a cross tabulation.

The Publish page includes the URL of the final questionnaire. When using Question or Captcha authentication, the URL now shows the URL modifications that are appropriate for that method.

The Date and Number question styles now handle worldwide date and number formats. This was made possible by using a new capability in question styles, which can now specify additional parameters for a style such as the decimal separator character.

The Matrix Wizard can now create Likert and Semantic Differential scales. Their appearance has been enhanced by using fewer lines. The matrix is automatically sized for evenly spaced columns, and exact control over column widths is also available by editing the first question (the header) in a matrix.It is even possible to render these matrices using a custom CSS style.

The Grid Editor has been enhanced by allowing control over the generated question names, thus making them more meaningful. Grids now have an "elastic" mode, where only a few rows in a grid are shown, and a "More rows" link is provided that allows for entering additional rows of data. Because most grids use only a few rows, this allows for a more compact presentation while leaving open the option to fill out the entire grid when necessary.

A new DynamicDropDown Action creates drop down menus whose content is determined dynamically when the questionnaire is presented to the respondent, based on either the result of a database query or the content of questions asked on previous pages.

A new Upload style allows respondents to attach documents to a questionnaire, such as a spreadsheet, a document or a picture. The uploaded documents are retrieved using the standard Data reports by clicking on a link.

A new XML Import and Export option allows creating and exchanging questionnaires in XML. This option is also useful for creating questionnaire translations.

New Saving Data servlet parameters allow the Administrator to forbid saving questionnaire as text files, in their own database tables, or in the Normalized tables. This can simplify user choices and enforce database and file system usage policies.

A new cross-site scripting servlet parameter, provides additional checks for preventing cross-site request forgeries and cross-site scripting. Other standard practices for preventing cross-site scripting and SQL injection attacks have been strengthened and are always enabled.

ViewsFlash 5.8
introduces an HTML editor to make it easier to enter formatted text in headers, footers, and questions, using easily customizable styles. The editor checks English spelling in Internet Explorer and in all languages in Firefox. The User Guide has been revised.

This release introduces DisplayOrHide, a new Question Style that dynamically reveals or hides questions on a page depending on the value of earlier questions. It now allows including a "None" button in radio button questions to indicate no choice. The Installation and Database documentation have been thoroughly updated. Internationalization now provides a way to create a questionnaire in one language with localized messages, as well as questionnaires in multiple languages.

Administrators please note: when this release is deployed using User Security, the Examples and Default places will be locked so that only Administrators can create questionnaires and modify their settings. A new public Practice place is created for users to learn how to use the software. The Examples and Default places can be unlocked by an Administrator.

ViewsFlash 5.7 provides a new way to authenticate visitors, using only their e-mail addresses. This scenario is very useful when there is a membership list with e-mail addresses, but no passwords, and there is no other way to authenticate visitors. To support this, a customized login page can be specified in the Security page.

ViewsFlash 5.6 introduces Calculate, a new Question Style that performs live calculations in the browser. For example, given a total salary and a number of employees, this will calculate an average:
average=total_salary / employees;
The result can be optionally formatted with currency symbols, decimal point and digits, and grouped in thousands:
$1,234.56, €1.234,56. The calculated field can be made read-only.

New features to help with Questionnaire Printing have been added, and the Standard styles have been enhanced to allow easily specifying your own CSS style attributes, such as page borders and colors and font attributes such as small-caps.

A new internationalization facility provides a common language page for all translations of a questionnaire. A single URL can be provided to all participants, and they choose the language they want to respond to the questionnaire in from a drop-down menu with choices in their own language.

A new customizable CAPTCHA log in page for authenticating anonymous questionnaires is available.

A new section on How to use the Web Services API section has been written, including examples for using it in JSP pages and AJAX.
This API is now disabled by default, and must be enabled as described.

ViewsFlash 5.5 introduces a new Ratings API that allows easy construction of ratings systems for content such as articles, videos, photos, products.

ViewsFlash 5.4 allows using the Data View query and reports to examine responses that are still in progress and that have not been submitted yet. The Question library is enhanced to work with Grids.

ViewsFlash 5.3 includes a Grid Editor, allowing very powerful grids of similar question to be built. Releases 5.1 and 5.2 were maintenance releases.

ViewsFlash release 5 is a major release with powerful capabilities, including a Visual Editor, Charts, Reports, Filters, accessibility standard compliant questionnaires (section 508, WCAG, XHTML 1.0 Transitional), a streamlined user interface, a Matrix Wizard, question help, randomizing and hiding questions, and a MyViewsFlash preferences section.

A note on terminology for existing users who are upgrading: "Polling places" has been shortened to "Places".

Administrators who are upgrading from earlier releases: please read first Upgrading to Release 5.

New capabilities in release 5

Previous release notes

Next: Introduction