We are pleased to introduce a new look for FormSite. Although our focus has been improving upon and adding new features, we decided it was time to develop a revised logo and layout that we hope you find is clean, modern and professional. This design update affords improvements in usability, and we hope it's more pleasing to work with to boot. This marks the beginning of an evolution of our exterior site design, and we will be continuing to rework pages based on this freshened look. We've also made some complimentary changes that you will see once you are logged into your account to help give a more consistent and refined feel. We have many more changes planned that should make FormSite easier, faster, and more intuitive to use.
Technology Migration Finished!
For the last year we've been working very hard to modernize the underlying technology used in FormSite. This release is the final step in migrating away from our proprietary framework that was designed in 1998 to an industry standard Java framework. As we have mentioned in the past, we expect these changes to yield significant gains in performance, reliability, maintainability, and flexibility. We also hope that new developer ramp-up time will be positively impacted as there will be less proprietary code to learn. Since this work was mostly foundational and behind-the-scenes, you will not see too many visual differences but it will help us to continue to provide a rock-solid, fast, reliable service. With this project in the rear-view mirror, we are excited to move on to more new features and enhancements, as well as an overall design facelift for the site soon.
- New Results PDFs feature to output or populate PDF files.
- New MailChimp integration to populate mailing lists.
- Enhanced Salesforce integration allows for connections to Salesforce sandboxes.
- Updated Embed Code repositions users to the top of the form between multiple pages.
- Added additional currencies to PayPal Payments Pro integration.
Convert Form Results to PDFs
With our new PDF option for results, you can easily share individual FormSite results in a PDF. This makes sharing, archiving, and printing the results convenient for you or anyone else you share the PDF results with. We've added a ton of new capabilities for taking data you collect with your FormSite form and putting them into a PDF. New Features Include:
- Design your own PDF and populate it with data collected via FormSite
- Email Notifications can now be sent in several different PDF representations
- Export all form results into PDFs
- View and save Results in PDFs
- Email the PDF version of a form's results to one or more email addresses
You could use this feature to populate government forms, supplier forms, corporate forms, etc. that are PDF files. You can also Export all of your Results into PDFs. This gives you the power to archive off all of your data in a human-readable format rather than the default spreadsheet-based representation. We anticipate this feature will be used by many to produce hard-copy output of data that has been collected. Since by definition PDFs are portable, emailing or exporting your data as PDFs will make it much easier to share your information outside of FormSite.
Communicate Like a Pro With MailChimp Integration
We've integrated our service with MailChimp so that you can now easily communicate en-masse with those who have filled out your FormSite form. Your form can now populate your MailChimp mail list automatically! In MailChimp's words:
MailChimp makes it easy to design exceptional email campaigns, share them on social networks, integrate with web services you already use, manage subscribers and track your results. You'll love mixing and matching MailChimp's templates, features and integrations to suit your needs?think of it as your own personal newsletter publishing platform.
How might this be used? Say, for example, you are running a charity golf outing and you have an Order Form that allows participants to register. With our new MailChimp integration, you can now populate your Golf Outing mail list with users' responses. Now, with all of your golfers in your MailChimp list, you can use their services to send updates, newsletters, thank you notes, etc.
We support all MailChimp Merge Tag types: name, address, image, URL, etc. You can segment your subscribers into groups, update existing subscribers, even populate custom fields. Optionally, you can use the double opt-in to require users to verify their email address. MailChimp has a very generous free level of service. If you don't already have a MailChimp account setup, consider setting one up to evaluate our new integration.
Disclaimer: The post you are about to read is technical in nature and, quite frankly, you likely won't be able to see a bit of visual evidence of the changes discussed here. But trust us!... we have been working very hard behind the scenes on enhancing our technical architecture and code base. With this post, I would like to share what we have been up to and illustrate how we invest significantly in our infrastructure to support our current users and our accelerating growth.
Things have changed quite a bit since we originally built the heart of our system in the 1998 - 2002 time period. It was a different world back then, a different era in Internet years. Ten-plus years ago, there was little in the way of frameworks and persistence layers to build a system like FormSite off of so we rolled up our sleeves and built them ourselves. Our home-grown infrastructure has served us well, but admittedly it has started to become a hindrance due to its complexity and our ever-expanding feature set and user base (not that we're complaining!). In the second half of last year we decided to begin modernizing our core infrastructure using the latest proven technologies, methodologies, and frameworks. We expect these changes to yield significant gains in performance, reliability, maintainability, and flexibility. We also hope that new developer ramp-up time will be positively impacted as there will be less proprietary code to learn.
We have realized some of these goals with the first system to use our new architecture, an internal tool we use to operate and support the FormSite environment. We call it Mission Control. It aids us in maintaining accounts, resetting passwords, handling invoices and billing, monitoring servers, moderating fraudulent accounts, and more. Mission Control has been running perfectly on our new architecture since December of 2010. Rolling out a significant change like this on a non-critical system that we use to help operate the business allows us to fully test it ourselves and work out any kinks before phasing the changes into our main FormSite system. The new architecture has proven to be overwhelmingly successful thus far.
We are now beginning to re-work portions of FormSite to use the new architecture. Once this work is completed we believe we'll be in a position to move forward at a faster rate with respect to adding features and functionality. Don?t worry about having to endure through new-feature drought though! Even while we are making this transition, we are still dedicated to adding valuable new features to FormSite. We have divided our developers up with half of them dedicated to continuing to add new features to FormSite while the other half is transitioning over portions of our existing functionality to our new system. We will have another release of FormSite in a month or two that is going to add enhanced reporting and notification options. We expect the transition to our updated architecture to be completed later this year, at which point our full development efforts will focus anew on improving and expanding FormSite?s feature set and functionality.
- New QR Code Publish option for use with smartphones.
- Enhanced mobile device optimizations.
Looking at our traffic from last week, we were surprised to learn that more than 6% of people accessing FormSite forms were using a mobile browser. Our forms work great on mobile browsers, but there are some tricks that can be performed to make them even better when viewed on a mobile device. With our new QR Code functionality we thought we'd help our users design forms optimized for mobile devices. We outline some tips and tricks depending on the device your users have. We break these down into three target device environments: Desktop (default), Desktop+Mobile, and Mobile-Only. Lets dive into some more detail on each of these.
There is nothing new for you to do if you anticipate a majority of your users are using a desktop or laptop computer. By default, our forms are designed for a desktop environment. If you happen to have some users accessing your forms with a mobile device, they will be able to fill them out just fine. If you are not sure if you will have mobile users or not, you might want to make the changes discussed in the Desktop+Mobile section below.
If you may have some mobile users, we provide you the steps so that your mobile users see an optimized environment. We detect the type of device the user has, and if it is a mobile device we apply some special magic that does things like removes borders, shadows, makes text boxes bigger, and optimizes the form layout, etc. If your user is on a desktop computer or laptop, these changes do not apply. You just need to add some special Meta tags and CSS styles to make this happen. For more information on the steps to take to optimize for Desktop & Mobile, please see our documenation page.
If you are using our new QR code feature or you know your users will mainly be mobile, you may want to design your form so that it is optimized for mobile devices. Desktop users can still complete your form, but the layout will be optimized to look great on a mobile phone. The first thing to consider about mobile phones is that their width is less than that of a typical desktop. Also, the width varies depending on whether or not the user is holding the phone in portrait or landscape mode. We have added two new width options to the Customize section of our Look & Feel page for 320 and 480 widths. So, you would choose one of these new mobile-friendly width settings and then add in the special Meta tags we outline on our documentation page.
New QR Code Publish Option
Have you ever seen an image like the one above and wondered what it was? It is a QR Code (Quick Response Code), a 2-D barcode technology, that is increasingly popular for use with smartphones and other mobile devices. QR Codes can hold text like URLs ? including the one to your form. Once scanned, the user can automatically load the URL link in their browser.
Our new publish option will automatically generate the QR Code image that contains the link to your form in both standard and secure formats. In order to fully use the technology, you must have a barcode scanning application installed on your phone. On iPhone, some popular scanners are QuickMark, OptiScan, and NeoReader. For Android devices, the most popular scanner is Barcode Scanner.
When printed, QR Codes provide many opportunities for business marketing. For example, you could create a satisfaction survey in FormSite and then put the QR Code on a normal paper survey. People with smartphones could then scan the code and fill out the survey online. Another example would be to have the QR Code at a checkout, and after filling out the form on FormSite it could give the user a special coupon to use.
Overall, there are many uses for QR Codes and many resources online with further suggestions. To see a live example, simply scan the above QR Code. If you do not have a scanner, you can see the form here.