News Column

Researchers Submit Patent Application, "System and Method for Creating Integrated Web Form and Database Applications", for Approval

September 11, 2014

By a News Reporter-Staff News Editor at Computer Weekly News -- From Washington, D.C., VerticalNews journalists report that a patent application by the inventor Stover, Monique (Camarillo, CA), filed on January 28, 2014, was made available online on August 28, 2014.

The patent's assignee is ECI Software, Inc.

News editors obtained the following quote from the background information supplied by the inventors: "Embodiments of the invention described herein pertain to the field of computer systems. More particularly, but not by way of limitation, one or more embodiments of the invention enable a system and method for creating integrated web form and database applications.

"Current solutions for creating web forms and databases generally make use of distinct applications and skill sets that do not allow for a single worker to easily generate and maintain a web form and database application. Current generation form editors include WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get) form editors that allow for the creation of forms through the graphical placement of form elements such as text fields and check boxes. Generally, markup-based applications use HTML tables in the form generation process and do not use CSS for form element placement. Furthermore, there is no coupling of a generated HTML table form with a relational database. Current database generation interfaces allow for complex schema generation but do not generally allow a form designer to easily create a database or maintain the database. Hence, although applications exist in each area, there is no bridge between the application domains which leads to more effort, more required skill for generating an application and more cost.

"An example scenario for a currently known system is as follows: A web-design client orders an online web form to collect visitor information from a website and organize the collected information into a searchable database. In this scenario at least one web designer generates a form with a graphical form designer and saves the form as markup. Another worker, for example a database programmer, interfaces with the web designer and generates a database that will store the information associated with the form. The web designer updates the form based on input from the database programmer and ensures that the form stores and updates data from the form. If the desired visitor information set changes, then both the web designer and the database programmer are required to alter their respective work pieces and retest the system. Updates to existing database records is the responsibility of the database programmer or administrator. Any administration interface would likewise require changes by both the web designer and the database programmer to account for the underlying schema changes.

"One existing solution, 'Database Professional' for example allows for database creation. Another solution 'Form Maker Pro' allows for form creation. Neither of these solutions allow for total integrated form and database creation and as such are standalone solutions that require other software packages to implement the functionality that they themselves are not equipped to create.

"Other existing solutions such as 'FormSite' and 'FileMaker Pro' allow for form generation based on an existing database. The problem with these solutions lies in the fact that the schema is static for these solutions and the database is of a fixed type that the end user has no control over. In the case of 'FormSite' the database is stored on their server and there is no method of moving the database or using a database on any other server. In the case of 'FileMaker Pro' the only database supported is FMP.

"Yet other existing solutions 'Logiforms' and 'Quask' allow for form creation and import of XML to a local database. These solutions require local databases. As such a remote database may not be interfaced with. In the case of 'Logiforms' local database utilization requires a per month payment to keep the system operational. In the case of 'Quask', the database resides on the local personal computer.

"For at least the limitations described above there is a need for a system and method for creating integrated web form and database applications."

As a supplement to the background information on this patent application, VerticalNews correspondents also obtained the inventor's summary information for this patent application: "One or more embodiments of the invention enable a system and method for creating integrated web form and database applications. The system enables click-and-drag form creation and automatically codes markup, validation script and database schema corresponding to the form. The system does not require a programming effort to create forms or a database schema to associate form data with. In addition, the system does not require a programming effort for integrating forms and a database. By generating the schema to implement a form, a non-database programmer such as a designer can create web forms that store and display data to and from a database without writing any software. In this manner, designers can perform tasks that heretofore have required software engineers. In addition, generation of a web form may be accomplished by integrating with an existing web page. In this manner, previously generated work is not wasted. The system may also include logic and rules to determine the most appropriate location for a form in a given web page layout.

"One or more embodiments of the invention utilize functional modules such as a code generation module to automatically generate markup, script or program code. In one or more embodiments, the generated functionality implements a model-view-controller (MVC) design pattern. This design pattern delineates the responsibilities for particular modules into model (database), view (forms) and controller (the software that integrates the model with the controller). The system generates markup, script for the view and schema generation data definition language (DDL) commands for the model. In addition, the system also generates integration code that includes data manipulation language (DML) commands and may include, for example, the generation of an administration module for performing searches.

"The system creates the markup for a form, and markup for an administration web page if desired, using a WYSIWYG form editor that integrates with a markup generator which creates markup as form elements are dragged and moved onto a palette. Validation code generation is performed at this time to limit values that are allowed in particular form elements. Validation may include multiple form elements, for example, the value allowed in one form element may depend on the value in another form element. In addition, the hiding or display of particular form elements is also achieved in a similar manner through script. In this way, selection of a particular value in a list, for example, may change the form elements that are displayed in association with the selected list value.

"In one or more embodiments of the invention, DDL is generated that couples with a freeware database such as MySQL. By supporting freeware databases, the system lowers the cost for creation of web pages that implement form based database interfaces. For advanced users, the generated DDL or DML may be modified to provide custom functionality or optimization. This allows for expert users to fully optimize their implementations.

"Embodiments of the invention also allow for the import of existing HTML forms so that the code generation module of the system can create backend database, HTML code and validation structures to support the form without requiring a time consuming and expensive programming effort. Furthermore, the database associated with the form can be virtually anywhere. The system merely needs to access the database at the given URI to obtain a connection.

"The system supports generation of an administration module that allows for multi-field searches and maintenance of the database through a web based interface. This allows for personnel that are not programmers or database administrators to also perform tasks that are normally beyond their skill set. The administration system also enables report generation. In addition, non-administrative users (NAUs) may access the administrative module to search the database according to a restricted policy that limits the fields and records that may be accessed. The NAUs may access the administrative module at a URL that differs from the URL that an administrator accesses, or conversely, the login information may result in the generation of different views for a NAU versus an administrator. Any method of logging in may be performed by administrators or NAUs. In addition, policies may be employed to limit the reports that are accessible to both administrators and NAUs.

"After generating a form and associated schema, the system publishes the form to the web and can install, for example, an administration module on a website. In addition, the SQL file representing the schema is uploaded to the server and executed to create the database. The form may be saved and returned to later for completion using one or more embodiments of the invention. The system may delete forms that are abandoned and may send reminders to users that given forms needed to be completed. The system may store the forms on any computer associated with the system including a server or user associated computing device. Embodiments of the invention may upload any other file created in concert with the SQL file, for example, a cascading style sheet (CSS) file.

"In one or more embodiments, a wizard based generation method is utilized for viewing or editing a form, form markup/script code, schema, administration form and for publishing the form to a website. Use of a wizard-based method may be bypassed by more advanced users in one or more embodiments.


"The above and other aspects, features and advantages of the invention will be more apparent from the following more particular description thereof, presented in conjunction with the following drawings wherein:

"FIG. 1 is a system diagram of an embodiment of a system configured to create integrated web form and database applications.

"FIG. 2 is a view of a form generation interface.

"FIG. 3 is a view of a code generation or markup/script code interface.

"FIG. 4 is a view of a schema interface.

"FIG. 5 is a view of an administration interface.

"FIG. 6 is a view of a form preview interface.

"FIG. 7 is a view of a publish interface.

"FIG. 8 is a flow chart of an embodiment of a method for creating integrated web form and database applications."

For additional information on this patent application, see: Stover, Monique. System and Method for Creating Integrated Web Form and Database Applications. Filed January 28, 2014 and posted August 28, 2014. Patent URL:

Keywords for this news article include: ECI Software, ECI Software Inc., Software.

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Source: Computer Weekly News

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