Run form in the background API


Since Orbeon Forms 2017.2.

This is an Orbeon Forms PE feature.


The purpose of this service is to run a form definition, either in "new" mode or in "edit" mode, but in the background, optionally running one or more processes in addition to the regular execution of the form.

This allows scenarios such as:

  • create new form data in the database

  • read, modify and update existing form data


HTTP request and response

  • URLs:

    • /fr/service/$app/$form/new

    • /fr/service/$app/$form/edit/$document

  • Method: POST


  • $app is the form definition's application name

  • $form is the form definition's form name

  • $document is the form data's document id

Optional request body when using /new:

When not POSTing any XML data, just POST an empty request body to the service.

By default, the latest published and available form definition version is used. You can request a specific form definition version using the form-version parameter. For example:

  • /fr/service/acme/order/new?form-version=2

  • /fr/service/acme/order/edit/fc4c32532e8d35a2d0b84e2cf076bb070e9c1e8e?form-version=3

Response body:

  • Content-Type: application/xml

  • contains

    • the newly created or existing document id

    • whether all processes were successful

Example response body:

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8"?>

Running processes

The following property controls what process(es) to run:

where $app and $form represent a Form Runner application name and/or form name or * wildcards, as is usual with Form Runner configuration properties.

For detail on the process names and more, see Running processes upon page load .

[SINCE Orbeon Forms 2024.1] It is also possible to explicitly specify the process to run via the fr-process-name URL parameter. When specified, the fr-process-name parameter takes precedence over the* properties. Example:

  • /fr/service/acme/order/edit/fc4c32532e8d35a2d0b84e2cf076bb070e9c1e8e?fr-process-name=custom-process

Returning form data

[SINCE Orbeon Forms 2021.1]

This must first be enabled with the following property:


Then, if you pass the URL parameter return-data=true to the service, form data is returned:


By default, the data is returned in the 4.0.0 data format. You can override this by passing the data-format-version parameter:

  • data-format-version

    • edge: send the data in the latest internal format

    • 2019.1.0: send the data in the Orbeon Forms 2019.1-compatible format

    • 4.8.0: send the data in the Orbeon Forms 4.8-compatible format

    • 4.0.0: send the data in the Orbeon Forms 4.0-compatible format (the default)

The prune-metadata parameter can be used to control production of metadata:

  • true to remove all occurrences of fr:-prefixed elements and attributes

  • false to leave such occurrences

  • default

    • false when data-format-version is set to edge

    • true otherwise

Testing whether the form is running in the background

[SINCE Orbeon Forms 2021.1]

See the fr:is-background() function.

Disabling formula evaluation

[SINCE Orbeon Forms 2021.1]

The following URL parameters, passed to the service, allow disabling the evaluation of some categories of formulas when the form runs:

  • disable-default=true: disable the evaluation of initial values

  • disable-calculate=true: disable the evaluation of calculated values

  • disable-relevant=true: disable the evaluation of visibility values


Create initial data

The following example saves new instance data to the database for the form acme/sales when the service is called with /fr/service/acme/sales/new:


Update existing data

The following example updates existing instance data with the current time for the form acme/sales and saves it to the database when the service is called with /fr/service/acme/sales/edit/$document, where $document represents an existing form data document id:

    xf:setvalue(ref ="//current-time", value = "current-dateTime()") then save

Validate data

The following process allows you to POST XML data to the page:

<property as="xs:string" name="*.*">

NOTE: Make sure you use validate("error") instead of require-valid, as the latter always returns a success value.

Using curl

The following examples use the curl command-line utility, on a form a/a (i.e. with app name = a and form name = a), and where relevant document id 123. Along with using the appropriate server name, you'll want to replace those by your actual form name, app name, and document id.

  • The new background service: curl -X POST http://localhost:8080/orbeon/fr/service/a/a/new

  • The edit background service: curl -X POST http://localhost:8080/orbeon/fr/service/a/a/edit/123


  • The caller must either call the service internally or have authorized the service.

  • Appropriate container or permission headers must also be set to allow accessing the form definition and data.

See also

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