Creating a Form and Fields
Create a Form | Add Fields | Validation/error messages for fields
Notes to Remember
- Save early, save often. There is no autosave for assets.
- Do not copy/paste into form assets! This can introduce extra coding from wherever you created your text, which can break your form. Always type directly into the form fields when you create them.
- Form element names are restricted to 20 characters, so begin with a one word description of what your question will be. Create all questions in this way, save the form, and then come back in and type out the full text of the Label field.
- No capitals, spaces, or punctuation in form labels.
- Avoid special characters in form labels - %, @, &, etc.
- $, -, and parentheses are acceptable, but other characters may be interpreted as computer code and break the form function.
- Form Labels are restricted to 63 characters - so your questions must be concise! Break them down into multiple questions if you need to, or use a Legend to add instructions before a question.
- Legends have a silent-fail character restriction, which comes in at about 50 words. You should strictly limit your legend length.
- If you want to set up email responses, you should make the email field required and validate that it is an email address (directions for that are below).
Create A Form
To create a new customized form for your site, click on the Content tab in the top left corner, and then choose Assets.
On the Assets page, click New, and choose to create a New Managed Form.
The basic information page for a new form will then load. You will be required to name your form, and provide the messages that a user gets when either submitting successfully or submitting with an error in the form.
- Asset Name - This field should begin with your department name, and then a dash, and then the type of form you are creating. Examples are Admissions - Summer Open House Registration and Campus Safety - Silent Witness Form. These terms are searchable on the Assets tab so that you can find your assets (forms, image galleries, etc) quickly by department, keyword, etc.
- Description - A brief description of the form. If the Asset Name is descriptive enough, you can just copy it here. Otherwise, be brief, but make sure that the description is specific enough to clarify any questions that someone else may have about the purpose of your form.
- Tags - Another way to search for your assets in the system. You should always tag your asset with at least your department name (Test, in this case) and type of asset (form). Other good tags are "registration", "evaluation", "application", etc. Tags will always be converted to lowercase in the system.
- Content editable by: This field will control who can edit your asset after creation. Use the drop down menu to select your own department or group. If your department or group does not appear in the menu, you should leave this set to "everyone" and contact a member of the web team to ask for a group to be created. You can always change the security settings later, after the group is created.
- Form Settings area
- Success Message - This is what your users will see when they have successfully completed the form. Thank them for their efforts, and let them know briefly what to expect next. You will also be creating an emailed receipt in a later step, which you can use to send them more lengthy instructions in a format that they can retain and are more likely to read carefully.
- Failure Message - This is what your users will see when they attempt to submit a form with an error in it. Error messages are very frustrating for users, so try to make your message friendly and helpful, to encourage them to go back and take the time to correct their information.
- Save Results in Database - Leave this checked on, as it is by default. This saves your results into a database, so that you can download them as a tab-delimited Excel spreadsheet. If you do not leave this option checked, the only results you will get will be the emails that the form sends to you.
At this point, click Save, to preserve what you've done so far. You'll be taken out the screen where you can choose to Edit again, or Publish. Click edit and come back into the form to continue with the next step: creating the form fields.
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Adding Fields to Your Form
To add fields to your form, click the "New Element" button in the lower left of the form editing screen. A new field will be placed on the form, and you can then choose the type, and set the characteristics of the field.
Types of Fields
- Single-Line Text Field - Used for any short text item that must be entered (name, date, telephone number,
email address, etc.) This is also the field selected for creating field groupings
and form legends (see the Tips and Trick section for tips on those)
- If you are asking for an email address, consider making the field Required and validating it as an email address so that you can use that to send form responses via email (see directions on Required and validation below.)
- Multi-Line Text Field - Used for longer answers, such as an address, or an explanation of a previous item.
- Radio Buttons - Used where there are multiple choices, but your user is only allowed to choose one of the options. This field will be required if you check one of the options in advance, but will not be required otherwise.
- Checkboxes - Used when there are multiple choices, and your user is free to select as many or as few as desired.
- Drop-Down Menu - Used to present a list of choices (as in the screenshot above)
- Multi-Select - Used to present a list of choices, and the user is free to select more than one from the list (similar to the screenshot above)
Each field type you select will have different information for you to fill in. The screenshot below has been slightly edited so that all of the fields are visible without overlapping.
- Do not type the entire text of your item into the Label box! Choose a very simple one or two word label, all lower case, no punctuation, no spaces. This will generate the "Name" that you see on the top line of the image below. This is the name of the column of text in your Excel spreadsheet - you want it short and simple! You will go down through, create all of your fields with very simple Labels, click Save, and then come back in and edit the Label field to be the entire text that you want reflected on the form.
- Also note that the label field of your form is restricted to 63 characters - so keep those labels concise!
- No capitals, spaces, or punctuation in your initial names! You can add capitals, spaces, and proper punctuation after you have saved and come back into your form.
- Do not copy/paste into form fields! This can introduce extra coding from wherever you created your text, which can break your form. Always type directly into the form fields when you create them.
Choose all of the fields for your form, and enter only the simple one word label name for each, and then click save. Then you can go back in and edit the Label to be more descriptive, add in requirements, defaults, and validations. Save often while working on a form!
Filling in Field details
Field Names and Labels
- When first creating your form fields, make your Labels short (one word, no capitals, no spaces, no punctuation). After you save all of your fields, come back in and make the labels more explicit. This will help to keep the Name value smaller and easier to work with in the emails/database/Excel spreadsheet.
- Field Names are limited to 20 characters.
- Field Labels are limited to 63 characters - so be concise!
- Label: This is what you will see on the form as the text next to the box. Notice that as
you type in the Label box, the Name field is filled in? This is how the information
is recorded in the database, so you will begin by filling in the simplest form of the information required by that field. No capitals, spaces, or punctuation. Later on you will come back and edit those
Labels to be more descriptive and user-friendly.
- Required: Is this field required, or not? If you check that box, the Validation/Required Failure
Text box opens up. You must then enter a message to help the user correct an error
if they forget to fill out that field. "Please provide us with your name, first and
last." would be a good Validation/Failure text for this example field.
- Use this option if you ask for an email address that you will use to send confirmation
emails to the form owner or receipts to the user. Otherwise, they may fail to fill
out an email address, and your confirmation emails will not be sent by the system.
- Use this option if you ask for an email address that you will use to send confirmation emails to the form owner or receipts to the user. Otherwise, they may fail to fill out an email address, and your confirmation emails will not be sent by the system.
- Advanced: Used when creating field sets and legends. See the hints and tips page for more information on that.
- This field may only be used for adding code - it is not for regular text!
- This field may only be used for adding code - it is not for regular text!
- Default: If you put something in this field, ON SOME BROWSERS it appears on the form as already
filled into the field, as an example for the user. So you might enter dd/mm/yy into
the Default box of a date field, for example, to guide the user into putting the information
into your desired format. This only works on some browsers, however, so it may not
be worth filling out for most forms.
- Validation: This gives the database an extra way to check that the user has filled out the form
the way that you want them to. For example, if you were asking for an email address
in this text field, using the Email Address validation will ask the system to check
that the information is formatted as email@example.com, as an extra fail-safe
for you. If you are asking for a phone number with area code (518-580-5000), you
could put in a Minimum Length, and in the box that appears you could enter 10, and
in the Default enter XXX-XXX-XXXX. These are all ways to help guide the user toward
giving you the information you want in the format you want it in.
- There is a validation type for email addresses. Use this if you are requiring users
to provide an email address that you are going to use to send them a receipt - that
way you know it's a valid email address containing the full firstname.lastname@example.org information. Otherwise, they may submit a partial email address, and your confirmation
emails will not be sent by the system.
- There is a validation type for email addresses. Use this if you are requiring users to provide an email address that you are going to use to send them a receipt - that way you know it's a valid email address containing the full email@example.com information. Otherwise, they may submit a partial email address, and your confirmation emails will not be sent by the system.
- Delete: The garbage can icon in the top right is the "delete" for this field. Once you have
deleted a field you cannot get it back, so make sure that's what you want to do.
- Re-arrange Fields: On the left margin of each field is the dark grey area with the parallel lines. If
you click on there, you can drag the fields up and down inside the form field listing,
to change the order. You do have to have patience as you do this, and move each one
a few steps at a time until it is where you want it to be.
Radio Button Field details
Radio buttons are made required by clicking one of the radio buttons in the form editor, so you won't see a separate "Required" checkbox here.
You simply add your label, and then click "New Radio Button" to add your option list, and type in the text. You can then move your options up or down in the list if you're not satisfied with the order (using the green up/down buttons.)
All of the other fields are similar to these two - explore your options and see which fields work best for what you are trying to collect from your users.
Explore the Tips and Tricks section for ways to group your fields, and add section labels.
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Form Results Email Preview
Forms can be set up to send emails to the form owner(s) and to the form user (as a receipt). However, you have to format the email fields properly to ensure that the emails will be processed by the server and sent out as you expect them to be.
1) You should make your email field required. Otherwise, the form user may choose not to fill it out, and then the form confirmation emails will not be sent.
2) You should validate that the information entered is a full email address. Otherwise, the script cannot process it and the form confirmation emails will not be sent. You can do this with the Validation drop down, and by using some prompting text in the Label area.
Your Email Address (firstname.lastname@example.org)
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