Electronic Signatures

The electronic signature features offered by the Electronic Signatures and Advanced Logging module expands the M-Files workflows: the state transition can be certified with user credentials. You can use electronic signatures to certify, for example, approval of documents.

If you specified an electronic signature for the state transition, the signature is always required from the user before the change in state. The state changes when the object is checked in. The change of state with a signature can only be done one object at a time. Only users that have Windows authentication in use can do state changes that require an electronic signature. The user adds an electronic signature to the state transition when they enter their identification data and log in. The electronic signature does not refer to an electronic "fingerprint". The electronic signature always requires the user to enter the user identification and to log in.

You can require users to give their electronic signature before they can make a specific state transition in a workflow.

The Electronic Signatures and Advanced Logging module is available for a separate fee. This module includes event logging extensions and electronic signature functionality. For more information, see Electronic Signing and Compliance.

Electronic signature for workflow state transitions

To incorporate an electronic signature with a workflow state transition:
  1. Select a transition in the Graphical Workflow Designer.
  2. In the left-side task pane, click Edit Transition.
  3. Move to the Electronic Signature tab.


The Electronic Signature tab for a state transition.

Select Require electronic signature for this action to modify the options.

Signature meaning

With the Signature meaning options, you can select either a predefined signature reason-meaning pair or specify multiple meanings for the signer to choose from. The signature reason is a brief heading-level description for the signature, such as Approval of instruction document or Approval of invoice. The signature meaning is a description that tells the signer what will be approved. The maximum number of characters is 500, and you can use placeholders. The placeholders are listed in Placeholders for Signature meaning, Signature reason, and Additional information fields.

Examples

If you entered "Signed by %SIGNED_BY%" in the Signature meaning, the actual signature description that the user sees is, for example, Signed by Alex Kramer.

If you want the substitute user's name to be shown, use the %SIGNED_BY_WITH_PROXY% placeholder. If you entered "Signed by %SIGNED_BY_WITH_PROXY%" in the Signature meaning and Alex Kramer signs, the signature description will be Signed by Alex Kramer. If the signer is a substitute user of Alex, the signature description will be Signed by Andy Nash, on behalf of Alex Kramer.

In the image, the user has defined this signature meaning: "By moving this drawing from state %SIGNED_FROM_STATE% to %SIGNED_TO_STATE%, I confirm the drawing to be ready for the delivery to the client."



The signature meaning displayed on an electronic signature prompt.

Signature metadata

You can set the electronic signature to require the signer to add a value for a selected metadata property, such as Comment. The text is saved either to a separate signature object (see Create a separate signature object) or to the object with the workflow. You can also add more information to the Additional information text box. In Additional information, you can use placeholders (listed in Placeholders for Signature meaning, Signature reason, and Additional information fields).

Create a separate signature object

Select this option if you want to create a new object for the signature. Then the signature object is automatically in relationship with the object where the state transition is in use.

Note: M-Files can create the signature objects only when you set up certain metadata definitions. For more information, see Metadata Definitions for an Electronic Signature Object.

Identifier

The identifier is free-form text. You can set, for example, Purchase Invoice Approval as the identifier. In the creation of the signature object, the identifier becomes a part of the metadata for the object. The Identifier property can be used in, for example, scripts for state-transition functions or in searches to individualize a certain type of signature.



A signature object with information on the signer, the signing date, the meaning of the signature and other elements.

Save signature manifestation as text to a property

Select the property that you want the signature to be associated with. Then the specified content of the signature is shown as the property value in the metadata of the object. The default property is Signature manifestation. The text content of the signature property consists of the reason, meaning and additional information for the signature.

Note: If you use the same property for signatures of all state transitions in the workflow, such as the default property Signature manifestation, you can see only the latest signature manifestation in the metadata of the object's latest version. You can find other signatures with their contents (manifestations) from the version history of the relevant object.

You can also create a separate property definition of your own for each signature of the relevant state transition in the workflow. Then you can see all of the properties created and their signature content (manifestations) in the metadata of the object's latest version.

Note: If you first create a property in the Property definitions area, specify its permissions in such a way that the users can see the property used in the signatures but cannot edit it.

Placeholders for Signature meaning, Signature reason, and Additional information fields

The available placeholders to be used with the Signature meaning, Signature reason, and Additional information fields are listed in this table.

Placeholder Description
%SIGNED_AT_UTC% The UTC time at the time of signing. You can use this placeholder only with the Additional information field.
%SIGNED_AT_LOCAL% The time on the client computer at the time of signing. You can use this placeholder only with the Additional information field.
%SIGNED_AT% The time on the server computer at the time of signing. You can use this placeholder only with the Additional information field.
%SIGNED_BY% The signer name.
%SIGNED_FROM_STATE% The source state.
%SIGNED_TO_STATE% The target state.
%SIGNED_FOR_STATETRANSITION% The title of the state transition for which the electronic signature is required.
%SIGNED_BY_WITH_PROXY% Shows the name of the signer and the user on behalf of whom an assignment is electronically signed. For example: "Preston Present, on behalf of Abraham Absent". See the usage examples.