Documentation/OOoAuthors User Manual/Writer Guide/Creating a simple form

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Creating a simple form

This section explains how to create a simple form without any links to a data source or database and without advanced customization.

Create a document

There is nothing special to be done when creating a document to use as a form. Create a new Writer document with File > New > Text document.

Form toolbars

Two toolbars control form creation: Form Controls and Form Design. Select View > Toolbars > Form Controls and View > Toolbars > Form Design to show them both. See Form controls reference for a summary of the tools on these toolbars.

Tips: The Form Design toolbar can also be launched from the Form Controls toolbar. Some of the less commonly used controls are on a third toolbar—More Controls—also launched from the Form Controls toolbar.

You can dock these toolbars in different places on the Writer window, or leave them floating.

The three form design toolbars
The three form design toolbars.

The Form Controls toolbar has a button for each of the most commonly used types of control.

Note: In form controls are the text boxes, list boxes, option buttons, push buttons and other items that can be placed in forms.

Design Mode

When creating a form, you will want to check that all the parts of the form work correctly. If design mode is off, the form behaves as it would for the end user. Buttons can be pressed, checkboxes checked and list items selected. If design mode is on, clicking on a control item selects it for editing.

Click the Design Mode On/Off button FormDesignOnIcon.png on the Form Controls toolbar to turn design mode on and off.

Tip: If the Design Mode button is not available, click on the Select button SelectIcon.png. This activates most of the tools on the three toolbars.

Insert form controls

  1. To insert a form control into the document, click the control’s icon to select it. The mouse pointer changes to look like this: FormMousePointer.png
  2. Click in the document where you want the control to appear. (You can move it later.)
  3. Holding the left mouse button down, drag the control to size it.
  4. The control button remains active, so you can insert several controls of the same type without needing to go back to the toolbar.
  5. To change to another tool, click its icon on the toolbar.
    To stop inserting controls, click on the Select button SelectIcon.png on the Form Controls toolbar, or click on any of the controls you have just inserted. The mouse pointer changes back to its normal appearance.

Tip: Holding down Shift when creating a form control makes the control square. If you press Shift when resizing an existing control, its proportions are kept the same.

Note: When you insert a group box, list box or combo box, a wizard is launched to guide you through the setup. If you prefer not to run the wizard, click the Wizards On/Off button FormWizardsIcon.png on the Form Controls toolbar.

Configure controls

Having inserted the controls, you need to configure them to look and behave as you want. Right-click on a form control within your document and select Control from the pop-up menu.

The Form Control dialog box has three pages: General, Data and Events. For simple forms, only the General page is of any interest. On this page you can set the look and feel of the control.

Some controls have other useful options:

  • Some controls have visible labels, such as Push Button and Option Button. The label text can be set.
  • The List Box contains a list of options to choose from. Set these in the List entries box.

Tip Double-clicking on a control also brings up the Control Properties dialog box.

Control Properties dialog box
Control Properties dialog box.

Using the form

To use the form, leave design mode by clicking the Design Mode On/Off button FormDesignOffIcon.png.

A typical way to use a form is:

  1. You design the form, then save it when you are happy with it.
  2. You send the form to others (for example, by email).
  3. They fill in the form, save it and send it back to you.
  4. You open the form and see what their answers are.

Tip: By using a data source, or setting a form to update over the web, you can automatically gather data. However, both of those are more complex and you might prefer to keep things simple.

Form controls reference

Form Control toolbar

SelectIcon.png Select Select a form control to perform some other action on it.
FormDesignOffIcon.png Design mode on/off Toggle between design mode on (to edit forms) and design mode off (to use forms).
FormControlIcon.png Control Launch form control properties dialog box. This dialog box can be kept open as different controls are selected.
FormIcon.png Form Launch form properties dialog box, controlling properties for the form as a whole, such as which data source it connects to.
FormCheckbox.png Check Box A box that can be selected or deselected on the form. You can label the box.
FormTextbox.png Text Box Control to create a box into which the form user can type any text.
FormattedField.png Formatted Field Control allowing numeric formatting options. For example, you can set maximum and minimum values for the number entered, or the number type (decimal places, scientific, currency).
FormPushbutton.png Push Button Creates a button that can be linked to a macro. The label is the name that appears on the button.
FormOptionButton.png Option Button Creates an option or radio button. When multiple buttons are grouped together, only one can be selected at a time. The easiest way to group multiple buttons is to use the Group Box button on the More Controls toolbar, with wizards enabled.
FormListbox.png List Box Creates a list of options, as a pull-down menu, that the user can choose from. If wizards are on, creating a list box launches the List Box Wizard. This wizard is only useful if your form is linked to a data source.

If not linked to a data source, turn wizards off and create an empty list box. Then click the Control button and, in the List Entries option on the General tab, enter the options you want to appear on the list.

FormCombobox.png Combo Box As with a List Box, you set up a list of choices. In addition a panel at the top either displays the choice made or allows the form user to type in something else. Otherwise this works the same as the List Box.
FormLabelField.png Label Field A text label. The difference between this and just typing on the page is that, as a control, you can link a label field to macros so, for example, something happens when the mouse passes over it or clicks on it.
FormMoreControls.png More Controls Launch the More Controls toolbar.
FormDesign.png Form Design Launch the Form Design toolbar (which can also be opened with View > Toolbars > Form Design).
FormWizardsIcon.png Wizards On/Off Some form controls (List Box and Combo Box) have optional wizards. If you do not want the wizard to launch when you create one of these controls, use the Wizards On/Off button to switch wizards off.

More Controls toolbar

FormSpinButton.png Spin Button A spin button allows form users to choose a number by cycling through the numbers. Specify maximum, minimum, default and the step between numbers.

This control is not commonly used in Writer, as the number is not displayed. In Calc, however, a Data tab appears on the Control Properties dialog box, allowing you to link the spin button to a cell.

FormScrollbar.png Scrollbar Creates a scrollbar, with a number of options to define the exact appearance.

This control is not commonly used in Writer. In Calc, a Data tab appears on the Control Properties dialog box, allowing you to link the scroll bar to a cell.

FormImageButton.png Image Button Behaves exactly like a push button, but displays as an image. Choose the image in the Graphics option on the General tab in the Control Properties dialog box.
FormImageControl.png Image Control Only useful when the form is connected to a data source and a field in the data source exists that can hold images. You can add new images to the database or retrieve and display images from it.
FormDateField.png Date Field Holds a date. Configure the earliest and latest dates the field will accept, the default date and the date format. You can add a spinner.
FormTimeField.png Time Field Works like a date field, specifying a time.
FormFileSelect.png File Selection Allows a user to select a file, either by typing the path and name directly or by clicking on a Browse button and choosing the file from a dialog box.
NumericField.png Numeric Field Displays a number. Specify formatting, maximum, minimum and default values. You can add a spinner.
CurrencyField.png Currency Field Works like a numeric field; additionally you can add a currency symbol.
PatternField.png Pattern Field Pattern fields are useful when the form links into a data source. Specify an Edit Mask to restrict what a user can enter into the field. Specify a Literal Mask to restrict which data is displayed from the data source.
FormGroupBox.png Group Box The group box control has two different uses depending on whether wizards are on or off.

If wizards are on, creating a group box launches the Group Element wizard. This creates a group of option buttons (in which only one may be selected at a time). In most cases, using a group box is the best way to create a set of option buttons.

If wizards are off, a group box is simply a visual box to group together different controls. It has no effect on the way the controls operate.

FormTableControl.png Table Control Table Control is only useful with a data source. If no data source is specified, you will be prompted to choose one in the Table Element Wizard.

You then pick the fields to display and, when design mode is off, the data appears in the table. The table also includes controls to step through the records.

Records can be added, deleted and modified in the table.

FormNavBar.png Navigation Bar A navigation bar is the same as the Form Navigation toolbar (View > Toolbars > Form Navigation), but can be placed anywhere in the document and be resized.

Form Design toolbar

SelectIcon.png Select Select a form control to perform an action on it.
FormDesignOnIcon.png Design mode on/off Toggle between design mode on (to edit forms) and design mode off (to use forms).
FormControlIcon.png Control Launch form control properties dialog box. This dialog box can be kept open as different controls are selected.
FormIcon.png Form Launch form properties dialog box, controlling properties for the form as a whole, such as which data source it connects to.
FormNavigator.png Form Navigator The Form Navigator is a nice utility, displaying all the forms and controls in the current document, allowing you to edit and delete them easily.

If you use the Form Navigator, it's a good idea to give your controls names (in the properties dialog box). The name appears in the navigator so, for example, if you have ten text boxes, you can tell which is which.

FormAddField.png Add Field Add Field is only useful if you have specified a data source for the form. If no data source is specified, an empty box opens.

If you have specified a data source, Add Field opens a list of all the fields in the specified table, which you can then drag and drop onto the page. The fields are placed on the page with the name of the field before them.

This is a quick and easy way to create a form from a data source.

ActivationOrder.png Activation Order Allows you to specify the order in which focus shifts between controls. You can test the order by leaving design mode and using Tab to switch between the controls.
OpenDesignMode.png Open in Design Mode Open the current form in design mode (to edit the form rather than entering data into it).
FormAutoFocus.png Automatic Control Focus If activated, focus is set to the first form control.
FormPositionSize.png Position and Size Launches the Position and Size dialog box, allowing you to specify both by typing in precise values, rather than dragging the control. You can also lock the size or position, so they do not get changed accidentally. For some controls, you can rotate and set the slant and corner radius.
FormAnchor.png Change Anchor Just as with a frame, any form control can be anchored to page, paragraph or character and also anchored as a character (meaning that it behaves like any other character on the page).
FormAlign.png Alignment The Alignment button is disabled unless the control is anchored as a character. You can align a control in different ways, for example so the top of the control lines up with the top of the text or the bottom lines up with the bottom of the text.
FormGridDisplay.png Display Grid Display a grid of dots on the page, to help you line up controls.
FormSnapGrid.png Snap to Grid When a control is brought close to a grid point or line, it will snap to the grid. This makes it easier to line up controls.
FormGuides.png Guides when Moving When a control is being moved, lines extend from the control horizontally and vertically to help you position it accurately.
Content on this page is licensed under the Creative Common Attribution 3.0 license (CC-BY).
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