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Forms offer a method of control-based data input. A form or form document consists of a set of controls, where each one enters a single piece of data. In a simple case, this could be a plain text field allowing you to insert some text without any word breaks. When we speak of forms, we mean forms and controls, because these cannot be divided.
If an internet site asks you for information, for example, for a product registration you are presented with fields to enter your name, your address and other information. These are HTML forms.
Basically, this is what OpenOffice.org forms do. They enhance nearly every document with controls for data input. This additional functionality put into a document is called the form layer within the scope of this chapter.
The most basic functionality provides the controls for HTML form documents mentioned above: If you open an HTML document with form elements in OpenOffice.org Writer, these elements are represented by components from com.sun.star.form.
The more enhanced functionality provides support for data-aware forms. These are forms and controls that are bound to a data source registered in OpenOffice.org to enter data into tables of a database. For more information about data sources and data access in general, refer to the Database Access.
Since OpenOffice.org 2.0, form controls also feature a generalization of this concept. They can be bound to external components, which supply an own value. Both values - the one of the external component, and the current value of the control - are synchronized, so that a change in one of them is immediately propagated to the other. This allows new features, where the most notable is that you can bind form controls to spreadsheet cells.
When discussing forms, form documents and logical forms have to be distinguished. The phrase form document refers to a document as a whole, while a logical form is basically a set of controls with additional properties. Within the scope of this chapter, when a "form" is referred to, the logical form is meant.
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