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. In most cases it's best to leave the actual editing of forms up to SERC staff.The first step to building an online form is to look through existing forms on the site with similar goals and pick one to start with. The form option in the sidebar of the full editing interface allows you to create new forms based on existing forms (or a new one from scratch) as well as to edit any forms in the current page. The familiar form options are available for checkboxes, pull-down menus, and textboxes, as well as options to allow file uploads.
Additional Form Features
- By default all forms include a captcha which help deter spam-bots from filling out the form (without the captcha it's typical for a form to receive hundreds of bogus submissions each day). It's possible to disable the captcha on a given form but we don't recommend it. Also note that users who are logged in will not see (or need to fill out) captchas.
- Each form can have an associated 'thank you' message that is displayed on screen after the form is submitted. This is a good place for any follow-up information you might want to provide users.
- Additionally, forms can be set to send an email upon successful completion. This is dependent on the form including a field labeled (exactly) email.
The default view of the submission queue has a list of all the items submitted with a excerpt from the beginning of the submission as well as a number of features for working with the collection submissions:
- A link to view each submission in full
- An option to download all the submission in a comma-separate value format which can be opened in Excel and other spreadsheet and database programs.
- An option to subscribe to notifications about any new submissions. Each person who subscribes to a given form is notified via an automated email on a daily basis whenever new items have been submitted. It's good practice to make sure there is at least one person receiving notifications for every form.
- A variety of options for marking multiple submissions and then changing their status or deleting them in bulk.
- 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 PagesIt 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 choices in cases where SERC already has an appropriate form setup to support that particular sort of submission: activity sheets, course description 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 PageOnce 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 upload 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 EditingForms 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.