Web forms

  duqmic690 02:24 02 Jun 2004

I have created a web form that would-be members can fill online instead of the old pen & paper. However, I need to collect all the data from the filled-up forms into a database that I can view sometime later. It there a way for all these data collected from the forms to automatically be stored into a database just like in access? Thank you very much for the help.

  Taran 09:41 02 Jun 2004

If you have FrontPage and your web host supports FrontPage Extensions then you can set up a form in FrontPage which will write its returns to a text file. Yopu can also tell it to email you the form submission as well, so every time someone hits the submit button you will get an email containing the results of the forms fields and a copy of the results will be written to a text file on the web server. This is one of the real strengths of FrontPage.

The advantages are obviously that you don't need a web host to support ASP and Access databases (FrontPage can create them for you too though, if you want it to) and you also don't need MySQL or PHP. It all depends on the FrontPage Extension support from your web host and whether or not you have FrontPage available to use.

There are lots of alternatives though.

You can set up an email message rule to filter any mail that is sent from your web form into a specific folder in your email client Inbox. From there you can set up various ways of exporting the form field results into Excel or Access to play with.

If you have FrontPage I'd look to using it for your forms and have it store in a text file as well as email you. That way you can download a copy of the text file on a regular basis and append its results to your database with a simple import since it is a comma delimited data text file which any database program can deal with.

As fourm member suggests you could go for Access as a database on the web server and use ASP pages to populate it with information from your forms but unless you already have these options they involve Windows IIS hosting and can become costly. PHP and MySQL are another combination that work well and most web hosts support them, however, you need to know how to implement them and while we can help you do that the FrontPage solution is possibly your easiest by far.

Can you tell us what your web host supports and which web authoring software you have available ?

  duqmic690 13:29 02 Jun 2004

Thanks Taran & FE...

I have MS Access and MS Frontpage to deal with the database. I have used frontpage and am comfortable using it. Using access is a nightmare but I think will be able to manage with your help.

I try to manage two different non-charitable & non-profit volunteer organizations on two different web host. One is hosted by 1&1 and the other is hosted by 2mhost.

I think 1&1 supports frontpage extensions only I still have to learn how to activate it on the server. I still have to look around the 2mhost.

So...using Frontpage to which I feel most comfortable with...should I start making the form using Frontpage?...and store it as a textfile to be downloaded & imported to a database program.

Thak you very much...hope to hear again...

  Taran 13:35 02 Jun 2004

If you have FrontPage extensions on one site but not the other you can use a form on the supported site and link to it from the second.

FrontPage allows you to set up a thank you page on the form, so after it has been submitted you can give the form the URL for a thank you page on the site without extension support.

This means that one site with the extension support can process forms for both sites, you can get the form(s) to email a specified address each time they are submitted as well as store the results in a text file for later use in a database.

Some would argue that linking outside of the site then back in to process a form is poor practice and to a degree it is, but it does solve a possible problem and will allow you to have interactive forms on one site that both sites can use.

Just a thought.

  duqmic690 13:45 02 Jun 2004

great idea taran...

so in effect..I assume using frontpage will be the most simple way of creating the forms.

  Taran 14:05 02 Jun 2004

one of the great strengths of FrontPage is its form handling. It may require the FrontPage extensions to be installed on your web server but most web hosts offer them either as standard or for a small charge.

Almost all other web authoring programs require you to find and configure a Perl/CGI script, PHP or ASP form handler to process the results of your form. This is still an option to you but not many of those scripts offer writing to a textfile or database as part of their process - most of them concentrate on getting your form to send to one or more email addresses.

It seems pointless of me to recommend a PHP/MySQL solution if you already have FrontPage and are comfortable with it. I'm a great believer is using what you know where possible and in this case FrontPage is an ideal starting block since it can do everything you need it to.

  duqmic690 14:26 02 Jun 2004

that was gresat information tara...

I have started playing around with frontpage and have notice that I can handle the input generated by the forms to either save as web results, text file or CGI script. I think I play around it.

One last question, can you tell me more about CGI cripts and how different it is from saving the input as textfile?

Thanks you very much friend...

  Taran 14:42 02 Jun 2004

In brief, CGI (Common Gateway Interface) scripts are small software programs normally (but not always) written in Perl which is an established and mature programming language. Perl is the language most often used to reate the scripts but CGI is the interface between the script and the function(s) being used in it.

In the case of a form handler the CGI script which may or maynot be written in Perl contains a set of instructions that perform certain actions on the web server. In our example the instructions in the script are passed the the CGI and trigger the web severs email capability to send the results of the form to one or more email addresses specified in the script.

CGI scripts run in a folder on the web server, normally called cgi-bin and they need very specific configuation and file permissions applied to them to allow them to run.

Think of the FrontPage form as a type of CGI script that does more or less the same thing just in a different way. The advantage to FrontPage is that it does not need CGI support to work (some web hosts do not offer your own cgi-bin) and also that FrontPage configures the script for you based on the settings you apply to the form in visual design mode.

If you want to learn more about CGI or see some sample scripts try these links:

click here

click here

Once you've written or wrestled with a Perl script to work on a web server via CGI you will REALLY appreciate what FrontPage does for you with a few mouse clicks.

I suggest you stick with a combination of save to text file and send to email for your FrontPage forms. The comma delimited text file can be read by any database software and the email facility means you can direct the forms to an email recipient as well.

  duqmic690 19:36 02 Jun 2004

thank you very much for all the info....i'll try to work on the form with frontpage as soon as i can...see you around....

thaks again...

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