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Umbraco Forms 8.8 & Deploy 4.2 Release

Find out what you get with the latest releases of Umbraco Forms and Deploy

Andy Butland 02 Square
Written by Andy Butland

Double impact! Two releases in one day making some highly requested features available for users of Umbraco Cloud and our commercial packages Umbraco Forms and Deploy. They’re available now for Umbraco 8 and for the Umbraco 9 release candidate. Let’s see what’s in there 👀

Overview

Why two releases in one go? The main reason is to add support for the new Forms features in Umbraco Cloud and for Deploy on-premises. You should find the Deploy upgrade will work with older versions of Forms (for all latest patches back to 8.1), but if you want to use the latest features in Umbraco Forms 8.8 and transfer them, make sure to also Upgrade to Deploy 4.2.

What’s new in Umbraco Forms 8.8?

Forms in Folders

The big new feature for the Forms release is the ability to organise your forms into folders. This has been a feature request for some time, and we expect it will be of great help to your editors and backoffice users on installations where a number of different forms are being managed.

Important to note that the feature is only available for installations that have been upgraded to store forms definitions in the database. We’re looking to extend the feature with the ability to add user permissions by folder in an upcoming release, but even this first iteration will be hopefully appreciated by editors used to scrolling through a long list.

When installed, and with form definitions configured for database storage, you’ll be able to create nested groups of folders in the back-office, add new forms within folders and carry out other expected operations like rename, move, copy and delete.

Click for full screen video

If you want to use and deploy the new folders functionality, you’ll need to ensure you also have the latest version of Deploy.

Post/Redirect/Get for Form Submissions

This is a subtle one, but with the updated Forms you’ll find that whether you configure a destination page or a message to be displayed after a form submission, in either case a full redirect will be issued and the page re-displayed.

By doing this we avoid various issues around re-submitted forms and handle edge cases around validation and form submission when there is more than one form on a page.

Form Rendering Options

Another area that is getting some new features is frontend rendering that provides greater flexibility when adding forms to a page.

Firstly, it’s possible now to configure a default theme other than the out of the box one. So if you have your own default to use when editors don’t explicitly select a theme, you can configure it to fall back to that. In many cases, this will remove a step for editors adding a form and should remove the possibility of inadvertently adding a form that won’t adhere to a specific design.

For many field types we’ve added control over whether the labels are displayed, so your editors can choose to include or exclude them as appropriate.

Autocomplete attributes can be added both to forms and fields, and a configurable default attribute for new forms.

Conditional Field Handling

A small but tricky issue with conditional fields has been fixed. The issue resolved is that in a situation where a conditional field is revealed, entered and then hidden by changing the value of the original field that caused it to be shown - it would still get recorded. This is not expected behaviour for the user filling out the form. Although the user has completed the field, it wasn’t visible when they submitted the form and therefore should not be submitted.We now re-check the conditions server-side before submitting the form, and only include the visible field entries.

Other Updates

The other updates included in the release are as follows:

What’s new in Umbraco Deploy 4.2

As mentioned, Deploy 4.2 contains the necessary functionality for deployment of forms in folders - so you can both queue for transfer and restore folders, and forms that live within folders, between environments. So, a great addition to functionality in all Umbraco Cloud projects and absolutely essential if you’re using both Forms and Deploy in your on-premise installation. But, there’s a quite a bit more to the release:

Deployment of Data From Custom Packages or Solutions

Umbraco Deploy can be used for deploying things other than Umbraco content, but in previous versions this support was limited to certain scenarios. With this new release, we’ve removed some of the hard-coded “knowledge” that Umbraco Deploy has about CMS and Forms, and instead use a registration mechanism that other packages can utilise as well.

With the Deploy 4.2 and onwards, it’s possible to provide registration code that will allow for your custom data, presented in Umbraco trees and editors, to be deployed by editors in the same way as they can for content, media and forms.

I talked about this in the second half of my recent presentation at Codegarden, so this may be worth a watch if you want to see if this feature might be useful for your solution or package.

Dictionary Item Transfer via the Backoffice

When  using Umbraco Deploy, generally Umbraco entities are considered as one of two types: as schema, such as document types and deployed via serialized files and source control, or as content, such as content or media, deployed by editors via the back-office.

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Dictionary items have been treated exclusively as schema and this does make sense for certain workflows. If you’re an editor that relies on dictionary items for translation and being able to create or update these, it can make sense to have control over when they are transferred to a different environment as well. We’ve now added a configuration option to allow dictionary items to also be transferred in this way. This of course also means that developers wanting to work with up-to-date content, can now easily restore dictionary items to e.g. a local environment.

List Multiple Dependency Issues on Failed Transfers

When restoring content, if you have an item such as a piece of content that depends on another - perhaps a media item selected via a picker - Deploy will restore that related item too.

Previously though, if the item couldn’t be found - perhaps as was deleted, or moved to the recycle bin - an error would be reported, and the deployment stopped. The content then needed to be restored/updated in the source environment and the operation retried.

The change with 4.2 is that now the dependency issues for all items will be gathered and reported in one go. So, while the issues still need to be fixed, in order to ensure the integrity of the restored or transferred content, now you’ll have a list of all issues in one go rather than having to find and fix them one deploy operation at a time. We hope providing this overview will increase productivity and transparency with Deploy operations.

Signature Clearing on Upgrades

Umbraco Deploy has a caching mechanism built-in that it uses when comparing entities between environments. This is used for performance reasons, to avoid examining the full artifact for differences on every transfer operation.

We’ve found over time though that sometimes these signatures can get out of date, indicating to Deploy that transfers are necessary or schemas are mismatched when actually there’s been no change. Rather a change has been made either in Deploy or the CMS that changes the serialized representation of an entity even though the data is the same.  Most often this happens when a new property is added - for example to a data type configuration.

To avoid this we’ve introduced a clearing of this cache on any minor release of Umbraco Deploy or CMS.

Other Updates

The other updates included in the release are as follows:

Is this available for Umbraco 9 too?

Yes. As we’ve been improving all the products - CMS, Forms and Deploy - in their current versions, we’ve been merging up all the new features and bug fixes to the Umbraco 9 codebase.  As such all these features will be available at Umbraco 9 launch.  And, if you’ve been keeping up to date with the pre-releases of those, you can also try out this new functionality there. Refer to the Umbraco on .NET 5 Updates documentation article for details on how to get started with the Umbraco 9 release candidates and add-ons. 

How to get your hands Umbraco Forms 8.8 and Deploy 4.2

As always, from today, all new Umbraco Cloud projects will be running the latest versions of both Forms and Deploy. For all our Umbraco Cloud customers with existing projects, this upgrade is only 2 minutes away with the upgrade minor version feature.

We’ve wrapped it all up for you, so all you have to do now is follow these steps:

  • Add a Development Environment to your project, if you do not already have one (Add a Development environment by clicking “Manage Environments” in the project view)
  • Make sure you also restore the content to the Development Environment from your Live.
  • When the Development Environment is all set up and you’ve made sure you don’t have any pending changes on the Development Environment - you are all ready to upgrade both Forms and Deploy!
  • It's as easy as clicking a button - like, literally clicking the "Upgrade Available" button on the Development Environment. The auto-upgrader will take care of everything from here! 🚀
  • Once it's done, check the Development Environment to make sure everything is looking right.
  • When that's confirmed, you are ready to deploy the upgrade to the next environment - Live or Staging, and start taking full advantage of all the new features.

Non-Cloud and release notes:

Installation and release notes can be found on Our:

Thanks to everyone testing out the release candidates 🙏 All issues reported have been addressed and listed in the release notes. For general feedback you’re always welcome to contact us on product@umbraco.com and specific issues on the GitHub issue trackers.

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