Automatic calculations dependencies

Last updated last month


Calculated and initial values expressed with formulas can depend on the value of other form controls. In turn, those form controls can be calculated from yet other form controls. Such controls may appear further down in the form, or, in fact, in any place.

It is therefore important to compute calculated and initial values in an order based on the dependencies of that value, not just in the order in which the controls appear in the form. This is very similar to what happens in a spreadsheet.


[SINCE Orbeon Forms 4.10]

Form Runner supports dependencies of calculated and initial values when the associated formulas refer to other controls via variables (such as $units, where units is the name of a control on the form).

This is done by adding the xxf:analysis.calculate="true" attribute on the first model of the form, via the "Edit Source" feature as there was no user interface for this settings yet.

[SINCE Orbeon Forms 2018.1]

Orbeon Forms add an user interface option to enable and disable automatic calculations dependencies in the "Form Settings" dialog.

In addition, for new form definitions, the "Automatic Calculations Dependencies" option is enabled by default starting with Orbeon Forms 2018.1.

NOTE: Existing form definitions which do not have the xxf:analysis.calculate="true" attribute set in the form definition source are not automatically upgraded to enable automatic calculations dependencies. You must enable dependencies explicitly in the "Form Settings" dialog.

Form Options


Consider the following grid, where the totals must appear, on one hand, on each line item row, but where the global totals are present before the grid.

Grid with calculations

Row totals are expressed with the following calculated value formula:

$units * $unit-price
Row totals

And the global totals with the following calculated value formula:



Global totals

Automatic calculations dependencies ensure that, even if the totals show in the form before the grid, their values update correctly as the user modifies the "Units" and "Unit Price" fields.

NOTE: It is important to note that using variable is key for the dependencies to work. Using other expressions referring to form data, such as /form/my-section/my-control, or //my-control, will not work for the purpose of dependencies.

See also