Recommendations for Web-based Forms/Workflow Software?



  • Can anyone recommend a non-Sharepoint solution for a software system that lets users to fill out electronic forms?

    Sharepoint is the first recommendation we often come across, although I'm trying to avoid Sharepoint/Windows/Microsoft if possible.

    We've been testing jBPM and Activiti. jBPM is currently the top contender, although it appears to have a steep learning curve (I haven't looked at it too closely, my colleague has been dealing with it.) If anyone is currently using either of these systems, I would welcome any comments/feedback on your experience with them.

    Our requirements are:

    • Web-based
    • Self-hosted on our own systems
    • Stores form data to SQL database (doesn't matter which SQL but ideally PostgreSQL or Microsoft SQL)
    • Able to pull data from SQL databases (e.g. for populating options in drop-down boxes)
    • Handles some basic workflow (e.g. certain fields are required based on selections in other fields, section A has to be completed before section A can be completed, authorization levels to control which users can fill out certain sections/fields)

    Nice-to-have's are:

    • Runs on Linux server (the less Windows servers we have, the better)
    • Active Directory integration (almost a must-have, but if it stores the users in SQL then we can just do some custom integration)
    • Single Sign On (LDAP or Active Directory)


  • Does Alfresco have what you need?



  • There is Appian.



  • @scottalanmiller said:

    Does Alfresco have what you need?

    For some reason I forgot about Alfresco .. yes, that was also one of the ones we looked at. I'll have to go look at my old notes, but I think we didn't explore it too deeply because it's primarily a document management system so it's forms and workflow features were not as strong as other BPM/Forms systems. However maybe it deserves another look.



  • @scottalanmiller said:

    There is Appian.

    This one looks interesting; thanks!



  • @jasonh said:

    @scottalanmiller said:

    There is Appian.

    This one looks interesting; thanks!

    Not saying id recommend it. Very powerful but support can be.... Lacking. I have deployed it, though.



  • FYI for anyone reading this in the future; we ended up going with ProcessMaker. It has all of the requirements I listed, plus runs on Linux and has basic AD integration (it will use AD/LDAP for authentication, but you have to select the users you want to import and remember to import new users in the future; the paid version gives you automatic LDAP sync and SSO)



  • Awesome. How expensive was it and how do you like it.



  • We're currently using the open source edition on a CentOS server, so cost was $0. I haven't contacted them about licensing the professional edition, but according to their website it looks like they use a subscription model that starts at $10k/year.



  • As for how we like it, setting up the forms and workflow is relatively easy to work with (that is, compared to jBPM and Activiti; it still requires some time and effort to understand how to create everything and learn it's nuances) and is quite flexible. The way it outputs copies of completed forms to PDF is pretty good. They have some decent documentation and so far we've been able to find solutions to all our questions in the online forums.

    The one thing that's "missing" from the open source version is any kind of reporting tool for summarizing data collected in the forms. The only thing you can really do in the software is view forms/cases based on search results or browsing the history. However even if they had a tool (which their professional edition does), we probably wouldn't use it because we already have a reporting tool (SSRS) in use for all other reporting at our company, so we will just develop all the reports under there.

    We've only gone live with one process, which is a fairly simple form that goes through a review process to ensure it gets recorded and the appropriate people are notified (accident reporting), but we're now working on some more complex processes (engineering changes) as well as a few more simple ones (expense reports, capital requests,)



  • Maybe you could tie Jasper Reports to it manually to get reports out of it.



  • Yes, Jasper Reports would work well. ProcessMaker stores everything in MySQL so any reporting tool that can talk to MySQL can utilize it. I haven't looked at the tables myself, but the other guy here who's been dealing with it more said they look fairly straight forward.



  • @jasonh said:

    Yes, Jasper Reports would work well. ProcessMaker stores everything in MySQL so any reporting tool that can talk to MySQL can utilize it. I haven't looked at the tables myself, but the other guy here who's been dealing with it more said they look fairly straight forward.

    Definitely let us know how that turns out. Sounds like this is, overall, a very interesting project.



  • interested in knowing too please.



  • I'll definitely post an update once we had a chance to do some reports so I can comment what their table and record structure is like. We'll be doing them with Microsoft SSRS, but concept would be the same as Jasper.


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