Software > Form Tools

Form Tools - Visit the website

What it is

Form Tools is a GNU licensed, open source project I manage and develop in my spare time. I wrote it for web developers who work on online registration sites, or sites that require any form of information gathering from their online visitors. Put simply, it is a form processor, storage and data access script written in PHP and MySQL, designed to work with any existing web form. With a few minor changes to your form, you can stop using old-fashioned form-mail scripts and instead store form submissions in a database, instantly providing your clients with options such as mass data export via excel, printer-friendly pages, data sorting, form submission editing, file uploads and optional email of form submissions.

Where it came from

Form Tools started from a body of scripts I'd written, each created for the same basic purpose: to provide data storage and client access through a simple web interface. Aside from the data stored and minor differences in the interfaces, I found that each script was virtually the same. So instead of reinventing the wheel each time a new job cropped up, I devised Form Tools as a generic solution to a common problem.

In its current incarnation, most of the wrinkles have been ironed out and I add new features all the time. At the time of writing this, I've begun work on language packs to open the program up to the global community. Plus I'm designing an online resource for supplying translations - but that's another story...!

Where it's used

Add form: step 1
Often I find that even if Form Tools can't meet the requirements of a particular project, I can re-use one or more components of the code to save valuable time and effort - all it takes it a little effort to familiarize oneself with the code structure and methodology. I've used this core code in web applications for Boston Pizza, The Hartford Financial Group, 1-800-GOT-JUNK and many other companies - all of whom have been delighted with the result.

Through the support forums and and private emails, I've heard of Form Tools being used on literally hundreds of websites, including universities, credit unions, online magazines, real estate companies and non-profit organizations of every shape and size.

The Master Plan

Adding / Editing field options
I've always conceived of Form Tools as one separate component within a larger framework:

  1. Form Builder
  2. Data Storage & Access (Form Tools)
  3. Report Builder

Each component would be distinct from the others - or "strongly cohesed and loosely coupled" in NerdSpeak. At the time of writing, I'm focussing solely on improving Form Tools, but I plan on expanding the project in the next few years to work on the other two components. I've actually already designed a couple of form builders - one as a pet project, and one for Cadbury-Schweppes while working at PGI Interactive. Both had their strengths and weaknesses, and I plan on incorporating the best of both into a new design. But that's still down the road...!