M-Link enables flexible Forms Discovery and Publishing (FDP) using protocol described in XEP-0346. FDP provides a mechanism to allow M-Link to store a list of Topics and associated form templates that can be retrieved and completed by an FDP-aware client. Once the completed form is submitted back to the Server, interested parties who have subscribed to the Topic will be immediately notified that a new instance of the form has been completed.

Forms are widely used in military operations, where there is a need to handle forms (such as Medical Evacuation or "MEDEVAC" forms) quickly and share completed forms with a large number of parties who may need to take action, such as helicopter services, emergency vehicles and medical facilities. The FDP capability is shipped as part of the M-Link User Server and the M-Link Mobile Unit Server.

As illustrated in the diagram above, the FDP process is:

  1. A Topic (such as MEDEVAC) and associated form template is created using M-Link Console.
  2. A FDP Client discovers the Topic and, using the provided form template, submits a completed form back to the Server.
  3. The Server notifies any interested parties (Subscribers to the Topic) that a new completed form has been submitted, allowing them to request a copy of the completed form. Subscriptions to Topics and publishing of completed forms is achieved using XMPP PubSub.

Topic/Forms Creation and Management

The FDP service as well as the FDP Topics and form templates can be configured using the M-Link Console management GUI.

  • Create an FDP Domain to hold one or more Topics
  • Add, edit and remove FDP Topics and associated form templates
  • Setting stylesheets for Topics, which may be used by some FDP Clients to transform submitted forms into another format
  • Define who is allowed to complete and publish forms (such as users defined by their JID and/or all users at specified domains)
  • View and test form templates
  • View published forms

Forms Publishing and Display (FDP Client)

Isode provides an FDP client as a Web Application to discover and publish forms. This web application, which is shipped with all M-Link variations that include the FDP capbility,allows a user to:

  • Obtain a list of available Topics (and associated form templates).
  • Select a Topic, fill in the form and publish it.
  • Subscribe to one or more topics, review published forms and be alerted to new forms.

Other FDP capable clients, such a NATO's JChat client, may also be used for both publish and subscribe purposes. Background to this requirement and a more detailed description of the M-Link FDP support are provided in the whitepaper [Military Forms using XMPP].