How to Build a PayPal Subscription Form

Many websites allow visitors to access online content and services for a monthly subscription fee. Creating a subscription form is somewhat different from creating a regular payment form, because it involves setting up a recurring payment, so that the buyer is automatically billed a fixed amount of money at a fixed interval until the subscription is canceled. The online form builder’s payment integration feature now supports PayPal Subscriptions.

PayPal Subscription Form

Creating a Subscription Form

Creating a subscription form is quick and easy:

  1. If you haven’t got a FormSmarts account yet, sign up for a FormSmarts Business account, then create a form with the form generator
  2. In the Form Details screen of the form generator, set the On Submission option to Integrate with PayPal using Advanced Integration
  3. Add radio buttons, a drop-down list or a checkbox, and enter the description, price and duration of subscription options formatted as My Subscription ($19.99 USD/month), as shown on the screenshot above and in this demo.

Duration of a Subscription

The time before another payment is due can be specified in days, weeks, months, or years. The form builder understands the following formatting variations:

  • Monthly Subscription ($9.99 USD/Month)
  • 30-Day Subscription ($9.99 USD/30 days)

Trial Subscription

Like in the example presented in the first section, you may specify a trial period for the subscription. This is typically used to give a free trial subscription to the buyer before he is charged for the first billing cycle. The buyer will not have to pay anything if he cancels the subscription before the end of the trial period.

  • The trial period doesn’t need to be free
  • You may specify up to two trial periods
  • Any trial periods must be placed on the form after the main subscription specification.

Payment in Installments

A payment in installments is a recurring payment where the number of payments is fixed.

FormSmarts supports installments with the following syntax:

  • Payment in 12 Installments (12x$9.99 USD/month)
  • Try this demo

Any Feedback?

As always, your feedback is important to us and is our primary source of inspiration for developing new features. You can also post your questions and comments on Facebook and Twitter (@FormSmarts).

Attach a File to a Form in a Click: File Upload Made Easy

With the new file upload feature, you can now let form users attach a picture or document to a form like in this demo.

Form with File Upload Field

Adding a file upload widget to your forms is as easy as adding a simple text box: visit the Fields Tab of the form builder, and create a new field choosing the File Upload widget. That’s all there is to it. Once a file has been uploaded and the form confirmed, that file will be stored on FormSmarts and available to you.

Customizing File Upload Fields

Although a file upload field created as just described will be fully functional, you may want to restrict the type of content the form will allow users to upload, as well as set the maximum file size permitted. You can also specify how long FormSmarts should keep uploaded documents on the server. To change these options, visit the Field Details screen of the form builder.

File Upload: Form Builder with File Attachment

Allowed Content Type

By default, a file upload field will accept all supported content types: documents (PDF, Word, Excel, RTF, OpenOffice ODF, and HTML documents) and images (JPEG, PNG, and GIF). You can restrict the type of content the form will allow users to upload to either documents or images. For example, if you’re building a job application form, you will want applicants to upload their CV and should restrict uploads to Documents to prevent mistakes.

Maximum File Size

By default, the maximum size of uploaded files is set to the maximum for your plan: 2Mb for Business Starter, 4Mb for Business Plus, 6Mb for Business Max, 8Mb for Business Premier and 10Mb for Business 3. You can use the slider to change that value to whatever makes sense for the purpose of the form.

Storage Policy for Uploaded Content

You can define the period of time during which FormSmarts will keep uploaded content. At this time, we support five storage policies:

  • 5 days
  • 10 days
  • 30 days
  • 90 days
  • Forever (default)

While storing file attachments on the server forever gives you the most flexibility, you may then exceed your storage quota — currently 100Mb for Business Starter, 500Mb for Business Plus, 1.5Gb for Business Max, 5Gb for Business Premier and 10Gb for Business 3. You can view your current usage in the Resource Usage section of your account. We’ll send you an email if you’re getting close to or exceed the storage space for your plan.

Note: Form attachments for online forms integrating with PayPal using Advanced Integration are retained for at least 20 days, even if the storage policy is set to 5 or 10 days.

Secure File Upload with SSL

File upload works with FormSmarts secure form feature so that files attached to a secure form only transit via a secure connection (SSL), both when uploaded to FormSmarts and downloaded to your computer.

Any Feedback?

As always, your feedback is important to us and is our primary inspiration for developing new features and improving existing ones.

Have a wonderful 2011.

Form Confirmation Page & Redirects

We’ve added two options to complement the default confirmation page that is displayed after a form is submitted. You can now:

  • Redirect users to the Return URL of the form
  • Show a detailed confirmation page where users can choose to receive a confirmation email or download a PDF receipt.

Redirection

Select the redirect option in the Form Details screen of the form builder to automatically redirect users to the Return URL of the form instead of showing them the confirmation page.

This feature allows you, for example, to redirect users to a download URL of your site after they’ve entered their information.

Redirect With Embedded Forms

If you have embedded a form onto your site and set it to redirect to the Return URL, some browsers may load the URL in the iframe that was containing the form. If you want the page to consistently load in the top browser tab/window, follow these instructions.

Note: Do not choose this option if your form includes a payment, as users would be redirected instead of being led the page where they are asked to make the payment.

Detailed Form Confirmation Page

The detailed confirmation page shows a summary of the data submitted and allows form users to:

  • Have a confirmation email sent to them
  • Download a PDF receipt
  • Print a copy of the form data.

Feel free to try this demo.

The form generator allows users to get a PDF or receive an confirmation email

Use the detailed confirmation page whenever you want users to be able to keep a copy/proof of the data they’ve submitted. This feature is only included with Business accounts.

PDF receipts may not display correctly in non Western-European languages (Russian, Chinese,…) unless the language is set explicitly with the lang parameter.

Setup Instructions

Set up form confirmation email

Visit the Forms Tab of the form builder and click the icon showing a pen to edit the corresponding form. Towards the bottom of the Form Details screen (pictured above), change the On Submission action to ‘Show summary with print, email & PDF options’.

Web Form Builder Upgrade

This release of FormSmarts introduces over one hundred improvements, leading to our most powerful, reliable and generous offer yet.

Important Reminder

Please add FormSmarts sender email formsmarts-noreply@syronex.com to your contacts, whitelist, or list of allowed senders and instruct any other form recipients to do so too. This should ensure your web forms are (and continue to be) always correctly delivered to your Inbox.

Increased Input Fields Allowance

To allow all users to take advantage of the new Heading and Text Block widgets introduced with this release, we’ve increased the number of fields you can use on a form.

  • FormSmarts Standard users can add up to 15 fields on each form using their referral points.
  • FormSmarts Pro users can add up to 60 fields on each form.

Be a Good Web-Citizen

  • Report bugs. However intense our testing efforts before releasing a new version of the form builder, bugs may remain due to the number of different browsers and versions in use. Please report any suspected bugs on the forum or by email.
  • Show your support. Whether you are a Standard user getting the web form service for free or a FormSmarts Pro customer paying the price of a business lunch for a year of service, please show your support by pressing the “Like” button on our Facebook page and following us on Twitter.

Major Changes

If many of the changes are improvements to FormSmarts server-side software which are not directly visible to you, all affect the quality of the service we provide you.

  • Form data storage and Excel reporting are coming out of Beta, and you can now activate those for each form in the Form Details screen of your account.
  • We’ve improved several aspects of the form creator‘s interface.
  • We now support headings and text blocks on forms; details in another post.

How to Add Headings & Text Blocks to a Form

Headings

You can now use headings to create logical sections within your forms. For example, you might need a Contact Details or Past Employment section. To add a heading, select the Heading widget in the Fields tab of the form builder. The new field’s description will become the text of the heading.

Add headings to a web form

Text Block Widget

We’ve also added a text block widget that allows you to insert text of up to 250 characters (up to 2,000 characters with a Business account) anywhere within a form. Example uses include:

  • Instructions for individual form sections
  • Question or sentence introducing a group of check boxes
  • Disclaimer at the bottom of a form

Text Blocks support some text formatting (bold and italics) and — most importantly — links.

Online form with text block

To add a text block to a form, select the Text Block widget in the Fields tab of the form builder. We’ve increased the maximum number of fields that can be added to a form to allow all users to take advantage of this new facility.

Add a text block to a form with the form builder

You may sometimes need to insert links in a form. For example, to provide a link to your terms of service or privacy policy, or to refer to an external document within a form. The form builder allows you to insert links, specify bold text, and italicize and underline text using the following wiki-style syntax:

  Text with Commands Formatted Text
Web Link This is a [http://FormSmarts.com link to FormSmarts]. This is a link to FormSmarts.
Email Link This is an [joe@example.com email link]. This is an email link.
Bold This text is *important*. This text is important.
Italics So is **this one**. So is this one.
Underlining Use underlining __sparingly__! Use underlining sparingly!
Unordered List * red
* green
* blue
  • red
  • green
  • blue
Ordered List 1. red
2. green
3. blue
  1. red
  2. green
  3. blue

Links and formatting commands are supported in text blocks, agreements, form filling instructions, form submission confirmation messages, and checkbox labels. Check out this example.

Ordered & unordered lists are only supported in agreements/waivers at this time.

  • Links open in a new window
  • Email links are not supported in checkbox labels at this time

Give Feedback!

We welcome your feedback about headings and text blocks. If you would like to give feedback about (or suggest we add) another feature, visit the forum on our Facebook page. We read and reply to all posts.

Changes in Form Builder Payment Integration

The recent upgrade introduces some changes in FormSmarts Payment Integration (PayPal Form) feature.

  • Chargeable items may now be placed in check boxes. This should prove valuable in situations where you’re building a form with one or several optional, individually priced items.
  • Payment button instead of link. We’ve replaced the payment link on the confirmation page by a more outstanding button.
  • Form ID now shown in PayPal report. Up to now, when you needed to reconcile a payment with the corresponding form submission, you could only rely on the FormSmarts Reference Number. This is the unique ID shown in the subject of emails containing form data and in Form to Excel reports. The same ID appears in the payment details in your Paypal account, and also in the CSV report you can generate. We’ve now added the Form ID (see screenshot) to the information available on PayPal, so you may quickly identify which form each payment is for.

PayPal form payment details

We warmly welcome your feedback.

New Form Templates: Tooltips, Mobile Forms,…

We’ve upgraded form templates over the last few days. This affects the look and feel of all web forms. Notable changes include:

  • Tooltips — A help icon next to text fields now shows the field’s description and validation information on hover. You may want to review the field description you provided at the time you created your forms.
  • Variable form width — The width of embedded forms can be resized down to 360px without side-effects, and should degrade well beyond that.
  • Mobiles forms — Although our forms have always been accessible to mobile users, we now provide a specific template for standalone forms accessed from mobile devices. If your site visitors include a fair proportion of mobile users, you should also provide a link to the standalone form whenever you embed a form on your site.

If you installed the form embedding code on your website before August 2008, you should upgrade it to benefit from the new features.

Important: We’re now publishing most updates via our Twitter and Facebook pages. Please subscribe for updates and service status information.

Your feedback is most welcome.

Online Form to Excel

FormSmarts allows users to collect online form responses on the cloud and export them to Excel at their convenience with the Report Generator.

Export form results to Excel/CSV

Activating Form Data Storage for Export to Excel

Export to Excel requires that data storage be enabled for each of the forms for which you would like to be able to access form responses online.

For privacy reasons, form submissions were in the past not saved on the cloud by default. For Business accounts created after March 20, 2017, storage is now enabled by default. This does not apply to Pro accounts, for which storage is turned off by default and must be enabled for each form when needed.

To enable stored form results and allow Excel reporting, visit the Submit Actions tab of the Form Details screen of each of the forms for which you would like to access form responses online, as shown in the video below.

Store form responses in database

You will then be able to download Excel reports from stored form responses in a few clicks with the report generator. Business-level members may also view individual form responses online and download a PDF Report.

To enable storage of form entries by default when you create a new form, check Turn on cloud storage for all new forms in the Settings Tab of the form builder. This option is only available in Business accounts and is turned on for accounts created after March 20, 2017.


This video shows how to set up a form to store form responses on the cloud for online access and export to Excel.

Excel Report Generator Settings

Excel report generator settings

Show Field Names in the First Line

If checked, the first line of Excel reports will show the name of each field. This option is enabled by default.

Week Starts

The report generator allows you to specify the date range over which a report is generated by either picking a start & end date or choosing a preset period of time (This Week, Last Seven Days,…). For the time periods that depend on the first day of the week (This Week, Last Week), we use the default first day of the week for your country (as set in your account). You can change this under More Options.

Time Zone

Preset time periods, date ranges and the form submission timestamp shown in Excel reports are now using your time zone (as defined in your computer settings). If you would like to generate a report using a different timezone, select the relevant city in the Timezone drop-down list. Note that the city selected by default may not be your city of residence, but it will be a city in the same timezone.

Importing an Excel Report When the Spreadsheet Contains Non-English Data

If an Excel (CSV) report contains text in a language other than English, you may need to change the character encoding to Unicode (UTF-8) in Excel’s Text Import Wizard, as illustrated below. The report may not display correctly for languages other than English unless the encoding is set to Unicode (UTF-8).

Excel Text Import Wizard encoding

Get Online Forms as HTML Email or PDF

The email format we use to send form responses is flexible and supported by all desktop, web-based, and mobile email clients. Plain-text emails however become tedious to read and process for long forms and when form results must be printed for processing, e.g. for mortgage application forms, quote request forms, and many types of forms in the insurance and real estate industries.

Get Form Responses in Rich-Text Format

FormSmarts users now have the option to have form submissions sent formatted as a table in a rich text (HTML) email.

Form in HTML Email

The main advantages of HTML emails are:

  • Form reports are shorter
  • Look is more appealing online and printed
  • Email addresses, web links, and callto links (e.g for Skype) will launch the relevant application when clicked, as long as the field type as been set correctly.

To start receiving form results in HTML, change the Email Format to HTML Email in the Settings tab of your account.

Customize the Subject of Form Response Emails

With Business accounts, the subject line of form response emails can be customized on a form-by-form basis via the API Console as explained in the API documentation. The subject line template may include parameters that will be replaced with the form’s name, its ID, the FormSmarts reference number of the form submission, or the value of a particular input field.

Parameter Description
$form_name Form name
$form_id Form ID, e.g. 196x for form http://f8s.co/196x
$fs_ref_num The FormSmarts reference number of the form submission
$1, $2,… $n The value of the nth input field. The data type of the field must be one of Letters Only, Letters+Numbers, Positive Integer, Number, Country, Date, or the value of a drop-down list, radio buttons or checkbox.

Email subjects can’t be customized via the form builder at this time.

View Form Responses Online or Get a PDF Report

Business-level customers may also view form data online and download a PDF report using the link located at the bottom of email notifications. In addition to form data, the online and PDF reports contain additional information about the transaction that is not accessible by other means. Additional information is currently limited to the IP address from where the form was submitted.

Note: This feature requires that data storage be enabled for each of the forms for which you would like to be able to access form responses online. For privacy reasons, data storage is disabled by default.

Form Response in PDF

We welcome your feedback about the ability to get form submissions in HTML format.

Send Form Results to Multiple Email Addresses

We’ve updated FormSmarts form builder and form processing back-end to allow several email subscribers for each form. We’ll be releasing more subscription mechanisms later this month.

Before using an email address as a form recipient, you first need to add it to your account, and verify it. You can change the recipients of a form in the Form Details screen of your account.

The number of email subscribers allowed for each form depends on your plan.

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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.