Replication and Rollout

Test and check after every new form replication

If you make a mistake replicating a form between pages, you need to discover and fix that mistake at the first replication, not after the twentieth replication!

Form Reform's greatest strength is that you can design a form by arranging input blocks and mix these with any Concrete CMS blocks. This could also, if you are not careful, become the source of problems.

Here are some tips for managing the rollout and replication of forms in a way that is easy to set up and easy to maintain.

Testing and Debugging Forms

Form Reform provides many facilities to assist with developing and testing forms. Levels of debug and logging options are configurable on the Options tab of the submit block. Further logging and debug can be added as options in the form handlers and as specialized form handlers provided by the main Form Reform addon and by further extensions such as Form Reform Developer.

For testing captcha handling, consider Radio Captcha.

What changes from one form to another?

For many sites, the form handler pipeline will be similar across all forms. The aspects that change are:

  • Different form inputs - add, remove or change the inputs by adding, removing and editing the respective blocks.
  • Submit button label.
  • Alias name the form data is saved to (in the Save to XXXX handler)
  • Minor other changes to the form handling pipeline

Form Name

Leave the form name as the default 'form_reform' throughout your forms and form blocks. Only change the alias used to save the submitted form data to. The only time you actually need to work with alternate form names in the individual blocks is when there is more than one form on a page.

Copy entire pages where possible

Big forms are often on pages dedicated to the form with a little boilerplate text. It can be quicker to copy an existing form page and edit the boilerplate than to build a form on an existing page with boilerplate.

Groups of form inputs in stacks

Where groups of form input blocks are used repeatedly with the same settings, replication can be simplified by placing the group of Form Reform blocks in a stack.

As a rule of thumb, stacks are worthwhile for three or more common blocks. With just two common blocks it very much depends on how many settings need to be configured. It may be simpler to use the Clipboard to copy blocks.

Give stacks a descriptive name such as "Name-Email-Company Form Inputs" and plan a naming convention for stacks to keep your groups of inputs organised.

Entire forms in stacks

You can also put an entire form into a stack. Then add the stack on any page where you need the form.

Pull forms with Universal Content Puller

As well as using the core Stack display to pull in parts of forms, you can also use Universal Content Puller to pull parts of forms by Page Area or by Stack.

For example, you could use UCP to pull an entire form from another page while filtering out the Submit block. Then add a new Submit block and a few more inputs to your new page. 

Use the Clipboard

The clipboard is a standard concrete CMS feature. You can copy any Form Reform block into the clipboard and then paste or drag it from the clipboard to use on another page, just as you would add a block or stack.

Configuring the Handler Pipeline

The form handler pipeline is configured in the Pipeline tab of the Submit block. The pipeline configuration will usually be be similar for all your forms, so you usually only need to change a few settings between instances of the Submit block. But don't forget to change them or your form will go elsewhere!

Use the the Form Reform Global Settings dashboard page at Dashboard > System & Settings > For Reform > Global Settings to configure a default pipeline and settings. Any new Submit block added to a page will be pre-populated with those settings and you can then make the form and page specific changes.

Export and Import the pipeline

Like many of my addons, you can also export settings for the Submit block at  Support > Export. Exported settings can consequently be imported into any Submit block or into the global settings.

With great power comes great responsibility

Whilst you could use Form Reform with stacks and Universal Content Puller to build forms out from multiple levels of subcomponents, you really need to think and plan hard before doing so.

When used wisely and fully documenmted, such a strategy can be incredibly flexible. When used unwisely, you could end up with an unmaintainable knot of indirection.

If in doubt, just build a form directly from input blocks. 

Additional Pages

Reform the way you add new input controls

If you need a specialized template or a custom input element, you can design new templates  or new block types for form elements as you would any block type.

Blocks are easy for third party addition or extension. Block templates and are the first thing any Concrete CMS developer learns to code. They are one of the easiest things to code. The underlying mechanisms are well established and reliable.

Reform what you can do with form data

Form handlers are built about the same extensible plugin system as many of my other addons (Universal Content Puller, Omni Gallery, Extreme Clean ...).

The whole system is aimed at easy extension within Form Reform, by third party addons, by agencies and by site building developers.

Handlers can be easily added to do whatever you want with the form data.

Reform where you can save form data

Saving form data with Form Reform is simply a handler in the processing pipeline. You can save to multiple locations or just one location.

If you need to save data elsewhere, such as to a dedicated table, a table provided through another addon, to another database, send it to an API, forward it to another server, or anywhere you can imagine, you can adapt or develop a form handler to do so.

The complexity of the code depends on where you are saving or sending the data, but wrapping that into a form handler plugin for Form Reform is straight forward.

The Form Reform handler plugin system is designed for easy extension.

Form Reform

Reform the way forms are built. Build a form out of blocks. Take control of how form submissions are processed and how the submitted data is stored. Easy to extend. Easy to reconfigure. Tangible data. Easy to add your own integrations.

Form Reform Display

List and display form submissions from Form Reform.

Form Reform UTM

Not just Form Reform and not just UTM! Capture and hold incoming UTM (or other) tags and make the tag values available to Form Reform and/or Conditional Redirect as {{place_holders}}. You don't need Form Reform to use this.

Form Reform Dynamics

Form handlers for querying Microsoft Dynamics, forwarding and updating form data to Microsoft Dynamics.

Snapshot

A suite of advanced image capture and upload tools. Enhanced drag and drop file uploading. Make screengrabs from within Concrete CMS. Capture images directly from device webcams. Edit images before uploading.

Form Reform Attributes, Express and Users

Save submitted forms to Express objects and user attributes. Add and remove users from groups.

Form Reform Image Picker

Form Reform Image Picker provides an image picking input block for Form Reform. The Image Picker Input is preconfigured to connect to most Omni Gallery gallery and slider display widgets, the core gallery block, and thumbnail showing templates for the core page list block. Advanced settings allow the Image Picker Input to be configured to pick images from other galleries and sliders.

Form Reform Data Picker

Form Reform Data Picker provides data picking input blocks for Form Reform. The Table Picker Input is preconfigured to connect to Universal Content Puller table display widgets. Advanced settings allow the Table Picker Input to be configured to pick data from other HTML tables.

Form Reform Developer

A growing suite of resources to assist those developing blocks, handlers and more complex forms for Form Reform.

Learn with a simple form

While you may have plans to implement some much more complex forms using Form Reform, we strongly recommend you start with a simple form such as our contact form example in order to review the basic principles of using Form Reform before you move onto anything bigger.

  1. Start by submitting the form at Getting Started - Your First Form a few times, even making some deliberate mistakes.
  2. Watch our Getting Started with Form Reform video to see how the form is built.
  3. Read through the rest of Getting Started - Your First Form for more details of how this form is built.
  4. Create a test page on your site to build your own version of Getting Started - Your First Form and experiment.
  5. Develop your test page with some of the concepts introduced by our further examples and experiment with some of the other form inputs.