Create Forms with Wufoo

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Bring Back the Old Netscape?

cap-0042.pngEvery once in a while I'm blown away by a service that does its job so well that I have to incorporate it somewhere in my life not because have I need for it but because I want to the use the service for the service itself. Wufoo is the latest one that's had this effect on me. Currently in beta, based in Tampa, Florida and set to launch sometime next week, Wufoo makes forms easy — from creating one to putting it up wherever you want to and managing/sorting the entries, it's the complete solution to this. I was lucky enough to get the chance to try it out, and I can't stress on how well-built this service is.

First, you can start by creating a form. Their current beta is free and limited to 10 forms, although I'm told that their launch will have a sought-after business model with different packages. Creating a form is really easy to do with Wufoo. They've got a few 'preset fields' which save you a lot of time (such as an 'Address' or a 'Date of Birth' field), and with the power of AJAX, you can expect the ability to drag-and-drop in almost every corner of the service. You can of course, also, create your own fields and customize the presets. One thing I notice is they have a 'file upload' field which is great and I can see it coming handy in many places.

Once you've created your form to your liking you can then go ahead and obtain the code in a couple of ways (three, actually, but two are mostly the same). One option is to get the ol' 10-line iframe or JavaScript and then place it wherever you need it. The other option is to obtain the full XHTML form code, although with which you lose the ability of collecting the data through Wufoo and are required to build your own submission code and database. While you have more control this way, majority of the work is left to you and by choosing this option you're using Wufoo only for the HTML form-building part. Whatever route you choose, you can expect a well-built, thought-out, and in a way 'ergonomic' form which only a few services that I've seen offer.

The next part is really what I consider the fun part of Wufoo. As the entries come in, Wufoo makes it quite a breeze to manage, sort and collect these. One of the first things you can do is subscribe to your form's RSS feed — yes, there is one — and watch your feed-reader go crazy as the entries come in. I would personally leave it to that for my forms, but Wufoo goes way beyond this. With the entry manager, you get a really good view of the entries that have been submitted. You can edit entries and Wufoo also gives you the ability to also comment on them (in a circumstance where multiple people are managing the form or when you want to simply reference entries, I see quite a big use for this) and also, wait for it, a Yahoo! Maps mashup to see the entry's geography. You can also 'filter' entries like an SQL query (e.g. 'City' contains 'Seattle') to get a better view of things.

While you may think this where Wufoo ends, there's also one more aspect I love. Once you have suffice data, you can go on to the next step and create reports — charts and graphs — to represent the data (surveys come to mind) with the option to export to CSV or Excel. After this, it's really up to you how you go about using the data and what you do with it.

As you can tell from my not-so-subtle tone throughout the post, I'm heavily impressed with Wufoo. I think it's a service that fulfills all aspects of forms feature-wise, while providing a welcoming, easy-to-use and eye-pleasing interface. If you've used any of 37signals' products, Shopify, or Blinksale, then you'll like Wufoo. All these are great products with surprisingly similar interfaces, features, and they all help the user achieve something from step 1 to step 10 — be it creating a form, shop, plan or an invoice. Wufoo is set to launch sometime next week and I'm positive it will be a major contender.

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