Service endpoint

OperationHTTP MethodURL














  • $app is the form definition's application name

  • $form is the form definition's form name

  • $document is the form data's document id



  • The request body is empty and response body contains resource.

  • [SINCE Orbeon Forms 4.5] The Orbeon-Operations response header lists the operations that the user can perform on the data (see Supporting permissions in your persistence API implementation).

  • [SINCE Orbeon Forms 4.5] If the implementation of the persistence API supports form versioning, and the request is for a form definition, the Orbeon-Form-Definition-Version request header tells which version of the form definition is requested.


  • The request body contains the resource to store.

  • The Content-Type must contain the content-type of the resource to store. For XML in particular, pass application/xml.

  • The request response is empty.

  • If your implementation of the persistence API supports form versioning, then when storing a new document, you need to tell the persistence what version of the form definition was used to create this data, so the same version can then be used to subsequently edit the data. This is done by specifying the version in the Orbeon-Form-Definition-Version header.


  • Both request and response bodies are empty.


When the resource is an XML file (e.g. form.xhtml, data.xml), the persistence layer must return an appropriate XML content-type: application/xml, or application/xhtml+xml.

Form Builder version number

For callers, when PUTting data under the path /orbeon/builder/data/, which means storing unpublished form definitions and form definition attachments, always set Orbeon-Form-Definition-Version to the value 1, or omit the versioning header (which defaults to 1 for new data, and to the latest version of the resource for existing data). This is because Form Builder stores its unpublished form definitions like a regular published form would, but in effect there is only one "version" of Form Builder.


For a particular application name and form name, the document id must be unique. The document id cannot be reused across form definition versions. This allows the document id to be used to infer the form definition version number when retrieving data for a given application name and form name.

Updating a resource

When using PUT to update a resource (whether form data or attachment), the built-in relational persistence layer checks that the version number provided matches the existing version number in the database. Custom persistence layers should do the same.

For example, if you PUT an attachment with path (indented for legibility):


and pass the header:

Orbeon-Form-Definition-Version: 3

and there is already, in the database, such an attachment that was created with version 3, the request is successful and the resource is updated.

On the other hand if, for the same resource, you pass the header:

Orbeon-Form-Definition-Version: 4

the persistence layer returns a 400 "Bad Request" HTTP status code.

Migrating a form definition for integration purposes

[SINCE Orbeon Forms 2021.1]

Some Orbeon Forms integrators retrieve form definitions using the CRUD API to analyze them and, for example, to perform operations on the data with the knowledge of the form structure acquired from those form definitions.

However, the format of Orbeon Forms form definitions has evolved over time, in particular to follow changes to the data format. This is because a form definition follows the so-called internal data format. This means that retrieving a form definition with a newer version of Orbeon Forms can yield a form definition that is different from the format obtained in earlier versions. In particular, extra XML elements and <xf:bind> elements can be present.

To alleviate this issue, a URL parameter, form-definition-format-version, is provided. It applies to the GET method only, in the following cases:

  • To retrieve a published form definition (also include the Orbeon-Form-Definition-Version header to specify the form definition version):

  • To retrieve an unpublished form definition from the Form Builder data:


By default, without this parameter, a form definition is returned unchanged from the database. But if form-definition-format-version is used, the form definition is partially migrated to match the specified destination data format:

  • form-definition-format-version=4.0.0: target the 4.0.0 data format

  • form-definition-format-version=4.8.0: target the 4.8.0 data format

  • form-definition-format-version=2019.1.0: target the 2019.1.0 data format

The internal data format version associated with form definition retrieved is determined as follows:

  • If the form definition includes updated-with-version or created-with-version metadata, that information is used to infer the data format associated with the given Orbeon Forms version.

  • Else the form definition was last updated with a version older than Orbeon Forms 2018.2, and the data format version associated with the form definition is assumed to be 4.8.0.

WARNING: This means that this feature does not currently work to migrate a form definition published with a version older than Orbeon Forms 4.8.0, if the definition has not been republished or upgraded with Orbeon Forms 4.8.0 or newer. Or rather, the migration might fail in unexpected ways.

More specifically, the form definition read from the database is transformed as follows to adjust to match the specified data format:

  • inline instance data, under fr-form-instance

  • repeat templates (-template instances)

  • binds and controls hierarchy

Other aspects of the form definition, including names of form controls and various attributes, are left unchanged.

For example, if the form definition has been published with Orbeon Forms 2020.1, instance data might look like this:

<xf:instance id="fr-form-instance">
    <form fr:data-format-version="2019.1.0">
                <textarea>Lorem ipsum...</textarea>

Data migrated to the 4.8.0 format will look like the following, since elements representing non-repeated grids are missing:

<xf:instance id="fr-form-instance">
    <form fr:data-format-version="4.8.0">
            <textarea>Lorem ipsum...</textarea>

WARNING: It is important that the form definition obtained this way be used only to infer form structure, and not to be stored again in the Form Runner database.

NOTE: The use of this feature should be rare.

Examples using curl

The following examples use the curl command-line utility. They are indented on multiple lines for clarity but in practice each command must be written on a single line.

The service must be open for these examples to work. See Authorization of pages and services.

The general format of the a path to access form data is:


So with the following assumptions:

  • app name ($app): acme

  • form name ($form): order

  • document id ($doc): fc4c32532e8d35a2d0b84e2cf076bb070e9c1e8e

then you can PUT form data as follows:

  -d @mydata.xml
  -H "Content-Type: application/xml"
  -H "Orbeon-Form-Definition-Version: 1"
  -X PUT

The following retrieves the data (the GET method is used implicitly by curl):

  -H "Orbeon-Form-Definition-Version: 1" 

The same API is used by Form Builder to store in-progress (unpublished) form definitions under the orbeon/builder app/form names. So with the following assumptions:

  • app name ($app): orbeon

  • form name ($form): builder

  • document id ($doc): 7b55c9d6f9b058376293e61d9f0d4442e379f717

then you can PUT a form definition so that it's available to Form Builder:

  -d @mydata.xml
  -H "Content-Type: application/xml"
  -H "Orbeon-Form-Definition-Version: 1"
  -X PUT

The following retrieves the form definition (the GET method is used implicitly):

  -H "Orbeon-Form-Definition-Version: 1" 

URL parameters

Supported by the persistence implementation

[SINCE Orbeon Forms 2017.1]

  • nonrelevant

    • when using GET for data only

    • values

      • remove: remove all XML data elements with attribute fr:relevant="false"

      • keep: [SINCE Orbeon Forms 2018.1] do not remove XML data elements

      • missing: do not remove XML data elements

NOTE: This property only operates properly on data stored with Orbeon Forms 2017.1 and newer, as only Orbeon Forms 2017.1 and newer stores data with the fr:relevant="false" annotation.

Passed by Form Runner

[SINCE Orbeon Forms 4.2]

The following URL parameters are set by Form Runner:

  • valid

    • passed when data is stored using PUT only

    • values

      • true: data sent satisfies validation rules

      • false: data sent does not satisfy validation rules

This allows a persistence implementation to store this information if desired.


Publishing from Form Builder

When you create, edit, or read form definition with Form Builder, those are considered unpublished form definitions and are stored as Form Builder data. Those are . They are stored under the path:


On the other hand, when Form Builder publishes a form definition, Form Builder first makes modifications to the form definition (such as adding section templates) and stores it where Form Runner will find it, under the path:


For example, this is what happens when saving and publishing a form definition acme/order with a single attachment (for example for a PDF template or static image):


  • PUT /crud/orbeon/builder/data/7b55c9d6f9b058376293e61d9f0d4442e379f717/a29fd47011b2957ef44a62d92995adfdbae03fa9.bin

  • PUT /crud/orbeon/builder/data/7b55c9d6f9b058376293e61d9f0d4442e379f717/data.xml


  • PUT /crud/acme/order/form/a29fd47011b2957ef44a62d92995adfdbae03fa9.bin

  • PUT /crud/acme/order/form/form.xhtml?document=7b55c9d6f9b058376293e61d9f0d4442e379f717

[SINCE Orbeon Forms 4.6]

When Form Builder publishes a form definition, if versioning is supported by the target persistence layer, it passes an Orbeon-Form-Definition-Version header with values:

  • missing: indicates the latest published version, or 1 if there is no published version

  • next: to indicate that the form definition must be published under the next available version

  • or a specific version number: to indicate that the form definition must replace the given version

    • NOTE: The version number must be a positive integer.

[SINCE Orbeon Forms 2017.2.]

Orbeon Forms implements, exposes, and internally uses the Publish form definition API to publish form definitions. Orbeon recommends using that API to publish form definitions.


Form data supports attachments. These are usually binary data attached by the user via an Attachment or Image attachment control. Attachments are stored separately from the XML data.


In order to save an attachment, you have to use a separate PUT request for each attachment. Conversely, to read an attachment that has been saved, use a GET to the attachment path. The format of the attachment path is as follows, on a single line (here split in multiple lines for readability):


where $attachment is a random id for the attachment. The .bin extension is expected.

Attachment metadata

The XML data must point to the attachment using that same path. For example:


Note that in the case of attachments, the XML data contains attributes indicating:

  • the file name

  • the mediatype

  • the file size

Encrypted attachments

[SINCE Orbeon Forms 2019.1] Implementations of the persistence API don't need to do anything special to handle encrypted attachments, and they can just save the data they received and serve the data they saved. Conversely, consumers of the persistence API will always receive decrypted data when issuing a GET request and aren't expected to do the encryption themselves when issuing a PUT request. This ensures that the persistence API is as simple as possible to both implementers and users of the persistence API.

For this to work, a component we call the persistence proxy sits between consumers and implementations of the API. It is the persistence proxy that takes care of encrypting and decrypting attachments as necessary. However, for the persistence proxy to be able to do this, as a consumer of the API:

  • When storing an attachment (PUT), you must "tell" the persistence proxy what field this attachment corresponds to, so the persistence proxy can figure out whether it needs to be encrypted based on the form definition. This is done by adding an Orbeon-Path-To-Holder header to your PUT request. The value of the header is the path to the element in the XML data that corresponds to the attachment currently being stored. The path should skip the root element name (/form), but include "iteration" elements for repeated grids and repeated sections. For instance:

    • If you have a section named personal-information, with an attachment field photo, then the value of the header should be personal-information/photo.

    • If you have a section named children, with a repeated grid named child, with an attachment field photo, then the value of the header should be children/child/child-iteration/photo.

  • When reading an attachment (GET), you must "tell" the persistence proxy whether the attachment was encrypted. You can know this by checking whether the element in the XML data that corresponds to the attachment has an attribute fr:attachment-encrypted = 'true'. If so, you need to add the header Orbeon-Decrypt: true to your GET request. (The fr:attachment-encrypted = 'true' attribute in the XML data is automatically set or removed, as appropriate, by the persistence proxy when the data is saved.)

Deleting all data for an existing form

WARNING: This feature is not supported when using relational databases.

To remove all instances of form data, issue a DELETE to:


See also

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