SERC > SERC Content Management System > Forms and Submission Queues

Forms and Submission Queues

The central tool in the CMS for gathering information from users are online forms.

Building Online Forms

We strongly recommend you work closely with SERC staff when creating forms. Chances are a form already exists that you can use as template.

Jump to: Additional Form Features | Submission Queues | Forms that Feed Directly Into Web Pages

Build a Form

The first step to building an online form is to get in touch with SERC staff to look through existing forms on the site with similar goals and pick one to start with. Once you have something to build off of, you can start customizing your form.

  1. editing tools screenshot
    Make a page to house your form (if you are unsure how to do this, get in touch with SERC staff or read these instructions).
  2. The form option in the sidebar of the full editing interface allows you to create new forms or edit any forms that are already on the current page.
  3. Name your new form. This is the name that will show up on the admin page, so make it meaningful. It should begin with the name of your project and then something about what the form does. There are many registration forms across the SERC site, so calling your form 'registration' could be confusing. Also include any relevant dates, etc.
  4. If you are basing your new form off an existing form, enter the existing form ID. SERC staff can help you find a good form to copy. Otherwise, select a form template or start from scratch with a blank form. Hit Create Form.
  5. file created screenshot
    A pink box will appear with the ID for your new form.
    • The ID will look like this, with a unique number: [ form 0000 ]. Copy and paste this tag into your page.
    • Eventually you will need to define a list of people who can see and edit the submissions gathered via your form. It is usually a good idea to wait until the form is finished before tackling this step.
    • For more information, jump down to Submission Queues
  6. To begin editing your form, go to the form option in the editing sidebar and click on the name of your form.
  7. existing forms screenshot
    Add, edit or delete form elements:
    • To add an element, use the Add Below or Duplicate button. Duplicate will create a copy of the existing element, while Add Below will give you choices about what type of element to add.
    • To edit an element, use the Edit button.
    • To delete an element, click the Edit button and then the red Delete Entire Element button - this cannot be undone!
  8. Names and Labels
    • Public labels are exactly what they sound like. Use them to label the elements of your form to make it easy to fill out.
    • If you need more than a word or two, insert a Text (including CMS tags) element, and you can include as much text as you need to.
    • internal name screenshot
      Internal names are required for certain elements (text boxes, radio buttons, etc). These are only visible 'behind the scenes.' Whatever is entered in the internal name field will show up as a column label when the form submissions are downloaded into a spreadsheet. Internal names should not contain spaces.
  9. You can rearrange elements by drag-and-drop. Click in the gray box at the left edge of the element to select and drag it.
  10. You can drag elements from existing forms into your new form (This is especially useful for things like liability releases where the exact language is important):
    • Click Compare/copy elements to another form near the top of the page
    • Select the existing form from the drop down and click Compare
    • Dragging an element from the existing form to the new form will create a copy - you are not removing the element from the existing form.
  11. Be careful with links
    • If you put a link in your form, you may direct users away before they click Submit, and all their information will be lost.
    • Consider putting the linked information directly into the form as hidden text (link opens in new window) to conserve space.
    • If you cannot put the linked information into the form, you can make the link open in a new tab. If you do this, put an 'opens in new window' label on the link (see previous link).

Additional Form Features


Submission Queues

Screenshot of a submission queue
After users have filled out a form the results end up in a submission queue. You can reach the submission queue through a separate listing on the main admin site, or through the form option in the editing sidebar of the page it is housed in. If you don't see a submission queue you may need to check with SERC staff to make sure one has been created and all appropriate people have been given access.


The default view of the submission queue has a list of all the items submitted with an excerpt from the beginning of the submission as well as a number of features for working with the collection submissions:


  1. A link to view each submission in full
  2. An option to download all the submission in a comma-separated value format which can be opened in Excel and other spreadsheet and database programs.
  3. An option to subscribe to notifications about any new submissions. Each person who subscribes to a given form is notified via an automated email whenever new items have been submitted. It's good practice to make sure there is at least one person receiving notifications for every form.
  4. A variety of options for marking multiple submissions and then changing their status or deleting them in bulk.
Following the View link takes you to all the information submitted through the form by that user. In addition to being able to see that information there are a few other features of note:
  1. Screenshot of Status Field
    There is a status field that can be changed. Either enter the text for a new status, or select one from the pull-down (which will be populated with all the status types that have been used in this form to date). Then hit submit/save to change the status. You can use the status to record information like whether the particular submitter has been replied to, or whether the submitted information has been dealt with.
  2. Screenshot Uploaded File
    Forms that included file upload will list all the associated information about the file (in a somewhat cryptic format) along with a link to download the specific file.
  3. On some forms there will be an additional option at the bottom of each submission to move the contents directly into a web page. This is covered in detail in the next section.


Forms that Feed Directly Into Web Pages

It is possible (with help from SERC staff) to set up forms such that materials submitted through them can be made to flow directly into web pages (without needing to copy and paste the information manually). This involves a fair bit of setup and testing before the form can be used so it is best reserved for cases where large numbers of submissions will be collected and turned into web pages. It's also an obvious choice in cases where SERC already has an appropriate form setup to support that particular sort of submission: activity sheets, course descriptions and a few other standard formats. In those cases the existing setup can be easily replicated in new sites.

Click at the Bottom of the Submission to Move it into a Web Page

Once a mapping has been set up there will be an option at the bottom of each individual submission to copy that information into a new web page. In cases where there is more than one possible destination module there will be a pull-down menu to select the appropriate destination. Most material is simply copied from the submission into the page. However, any uploaded files are actually moved from the submission into the module where the new page resides. This means that after a submission has been 'moved' to a web page, trying to move it again will result in a 2nd page which does not contain any files that were uploaded with the original submission. So if a submission needs to be mapped a second time the files will need to be manually moved (downloaded from the original and then reuploaded into the new page).

After a submission has been moved from the submission queue into a web page a notice will be added to the queue pointing to the web page that was created and the status of the submission will be automatically changed to reflect the move. This allows you to track down where particular submissions end up.

Instant Editing

Forms that are set up to feed directly into web pages can additionally be set to allow the original submitters to immediately edit their submissions. In this case, when the user visits their account page they see a listing for their submission (at this point it refers to the submission in the submission queue). If they click on this listing the contents of the submission are move to a web page in exactly the same way as if someone had gone to the submission queue and clicked the button at the bottom of the submission. The process for users is transparent. They see the link with the name of their submission, click it and end up at the web page. For the person managing the queue they'll see the submission marked with a message indicating the submission has been moved by the original author.

This instant editing is dependent on the form collecting the email address of the person submitting the information. This address serves as the key that ensure folks can only instantly edit their own materials. If you're managing a queue where instant editing is enabled keep in mind that some folks may not choose to take advantage of the instant editing option and so their submission will sit in the queue until they've been moved by you.

For help on setting up any of these options on a form get in touch with SERC staff who can work with you to determine if the option is a good match for your particular circumstance.



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