Archive for the ‘online form’ Category

How to Limit Who Can Submit a Form

Online forms are public and can be submitted by anyone by default, but FormSmarts offers a number of options to restrict and control who can submit them.

This article outlines different approaches to limit who can submit a form that are suitable for a number of situations, from restricting a form within a loosely defined group of users at large to sharing a form with team members within the confines of your FormSmarts account. We even show you how a user can share an individual form with someone else so they can complete it together.

Open a Form to Members of an Informal Group

In this first example, we exclusively open a form to staff within a company or a specific group within an organization, like students or staff at a university. User will have to provide their corporate or university-provided email address on the form.

Email Address Verification

To ensure individuals submit their own email address (and to verify their identity), we take advantage of a FormSmarts option that requires someone submitting a form to verify their email address or mobile phone number before they can proceed. FormSmarts verifies an email address or phone number by sending a one-time password (OTP) that the person then has to enter on the form.

Online form verifies the phone number or email when the form is submitted

Please try this email verification demo.

This FormSmarts feature allows a FormSmarts account administrator to restrict verification emails to addresses on a specific domain or sub-domain, so we can for example selectively open a form to:

  • Students at a university or college with an email address on the sub-domain students.example.edu
  • Staff at a university with an email address on example.edu
  • Staff with a corporate email address on example.com

For help settings this up, contact FormSmarts Support.

Email or Phone Verification on a Registration Form

Although not the subject of this article, FormSmarts members can also use email address or phone number verification to create a signup form for a site or online service.

By Invitation Only: Authorize Each Form Submission

FormSmarts lets you define how to authenticate a form user with their email address or phone number and who is allowed to submit a form.

FormSmarts members can also set the precise rules to authorize or reject users based on their email or mobile number. This is the most flexible option, but requires basic coding skills (we can help if needed).

  • When someone submits a form, FormSmarts sends a request to a cloud function or script on your website (webhook)
  • The request contains the person's email or phone number and a one-time password (OTP)
  • The script or cloud function checks the email or phone number against a list of users authorized to submit the form and sends the OTP to the person so they may complete the form submission.
  • It can alternatively automatically authorize the form submission to proceed with a call to FormSmarts API

Please try our this phone verification and custom authorization demos. The custom authorization demo only requires a phone number to be verified the first time it is used on a form.

For help settings this up, contact FormSmarts Support.

Private Form

Make a form private when you want to restrict who can submit it to your teammates.

Private Forms work best in teams and organizations that share a FormSmarts account and each team member has their own FormSmarts sub-user. Learn more about Private Forms.

  • A Private Form can only be viewed and submitted by sub-users (invited users) within a FormSmarts account
  • The user must be logged in to FormSmarts in order to submit a Private Form
  • A Private Form response is associated with the user who submitted it
  • The identity of the user who submitted a form entry is visible in email notifications and in reports

Please try this demo with the account alias, username and password given here.

Sharing a Form Submission

Finally, FormSmarts allows an individual submitting a form to share it with someone else — so the second person can, for example, review the information entered and co-sign it.

This is typically useful in application forms.

Changing the Color of Form Buttons

The latest version of the Form Builder now allows FormSmarts members to change the color of buttons on their online forms.

Layout and Colors Tab of the Form Details Screen of the Form Builder

The Buttons Color setting only applies to forms embedded on customers websites. Standalone forms accessed via their FormSmarts.com or f8s.co URL use a standard color scheme.

The color of buttons can only be changed on the current version of our forms. If you’re still using the old one, you probably shouldn’t. The current version is more secure and offers a better user experience. Please update your site.

Like most customizations, this functionality requires at least a Starter account.

As part of this form builder update, we slightly reorganized how information is presented in the Form Details screen illustrated above. The form layout and color settings that were in the Basics tab in earlier versions have been moved to a new Layout & Colors tab.

When Should You Export Forms to Native Excel (XLSX) instead of CSV?

FormSmarts allows customers to collect online form submissions on the cloud and download aggregated entries in a format, CSV, which is supported by all spreadsheet applications (including Microsoft Excel, Apple Numbers and Apache OpenOffice) and many other data analysis tools. We’ve recently added the option to export form responses to native Excel format (.xlsx or .xls) instead of the default CSV for Excel.

Export Form to Excel

The main reason we decided to support the new export format is to solve an issue with phone number fields that may not be displayed correctly when Excel opens a CSV file. The Excel XLSX format also has a few other benefits, but we expect most members to continue using the default CSV format in the foreseeable future. Please read on to find out if and when you would benefit from using the new format.

Benefits of the Excel .xlsx Format

Phone Number Fields

Provided you have set the Allowed Content (data type) of phone input fields to Phone Number, FormSmarts stores phone numbers as character strings rather than numbers to ensure any leading zero is not dropped from phone numbers. Unfortunately, Excel interprets character strings that only contain digits as numbers, thus removing leading zeros. Members who collect phone numbers on their forms, especially in locales where phone numbers may start with a zero (some US states and part of Asia & Europe), should set the Export Format to the Native Excel option in the Report Generator settings, as illustrated above.

If you find out when opening a CSV spreadsheet from FormSmarts that leading zeros were dropped from phone numbers, update the export format and create another report. Provided phone input fields were correctly created as phone number fields, the correct information, with any leading zeros, is stored on FormSmarts. No information was lost, any errors is due to the Excel import process and can be easily fixed by generating a new report after changing the export format.

All settings of the Report Generator but the timezone are kept in your browser, so as long as you use the same browser and allow FormSmarts to store information in your browser, your export preference will be saved from one session to the next.

Form Results with Data in a Non Western-European Language

When a spreadsheet contains data in a language other than English or another Western-European language, customers need to make sure when opening an Excel/CSV report from FormSmarts they select the UTF-8 (Unicode) encoding in Excel’s Import Wizard. The content of the spreadsheet may otherwise not be displayed properly. Alternatively, exporting form entries to a native Excel (.xlsx, .xls) spreadsheet removes the need to select the correct text encoding.

Note that FormSmarts stores data with a universal encoding (UTF-8) that supports all languages, so if you find out that a report appears corrupted when opening the spreadsheet, open the file again and select the UTF-8 encoding or switch the export format to Native Excel: no data was lost or corrupted.

Other Benefits

The native Excel format offers a few other benefits and we expect their number to grow in the future:

  • The URLs of form attachments are clickable links
  • The FormSmarts Reference Number (the penultimate column in the spreadsheet) links to the form response on FormSmarts. Use this link to add a note to a form submission, check where it was submitted from (IP address, approximate location), export it to PDF, print it, delete it and more. As we add more functionality to the page showing individual form responses (like the ability to tag and edit a form response), we expect more and more customers to rely on links in the spreadsheet as part of their workflow.

The native Excel format is supported with Business Plus accounts and above.

New Form Design

We’ve updated the design of our forms. The new forms provide a superior user experience on all devices; mobile, desktop and smart TV.

New online form design

How Can I Start Using the New Form Version?

If you’ve joined FormSmarts since March 1, 2016, you are most likely already using the new version. Otherwise you need to migrate your forms to the new version:

  • Visit the Settings Tab of the Form Builder and set Form Version to Current
  • Copy the new embed code snippet and update your site
  • If you’re using standalone forms, use the new FormSmarts.com URL provided.

What Do You Think About the New Form Design?

Please share your thoughts and feedback about the new form design. Write a comment to this blog post or let us know on Twitter @FormSmarts or Facebook.

How to Add Links and Basic Formatting on a Form & More…

Did you know FormSmarts allows you to include links on a form? You may also use bold, italic and underline for simple formatting.

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About the Form Builder Blog

The Online Form Builder Blog is published by FormSmarts, a web form service providing all you need to create a form and publish it online in minutes. FormSmarts makes it easy to build a form and embed it on your site. You can then get form submissions by email or store them on FormSmarts and download an Excel report. Learn more about the many other benefits of FormSmarts.