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Old 06-08-2007, 04:52 PM   #1
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Web Based Form Management

I have about 70 or so forms that I would like to digitize and make available to all my employee's via a website. I want everyone to login to a central area, be able to view the form templates, fill out the form, and save it to a central area by the user id and the name of the person the form was being filled out for, then I want everyone to be able to view that form. I just want to know if their are any solutions out there so I won't have to make one from scratch. I have been searching through source-forge for a similar solution but I can't even find something that comes close.
Old 06-08-2007, 06:01 PM   #2
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When you say 'form', are you referring to something that resembles an existing paper form, but displayed online? Or do you mean a form in the lexicon of HTML syntax? Or something else entirely.

If the former, I suggest that you make HTML forms that mimic your paper forms, and use a basic Linux-Apache-MySQL-PHP or equivalent setup to create the online component. This is not difficult, if you've done even a little web development before.

--- Rod.
Old 06-08-2007, 06:23 PM   #3
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I meant paper forms to digital forms. And hard coding everything in the way you suggested is exactly what I was trying to avoid, but I will if nothing else exists. Any more ideas?
Old 06-08-2007, 09:46 PM   #4
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It depends.... if you have 70 forms which are unique in the world, then it is too much to expect that some pre-written solution exists. A full custom application and a general tool which implements this without programming are pretty well mutually exlusive.

On the other hand, if your forms are something which has been done before like a order tracking system, bug tracking, resource scheduling, try to search for "PHP free source <your_application_name>"

There are hundreds of thousands of PHP applications available on the web. But it might very well be that your unique application is not among them. Most applications exist in countless flavors, but not all applications exist in at least one version.

I am in the middle of wrting a full custom application myself, and that was needed because I am sure it does not exist.

Programming or designing the forms is not the hardest part. The hardest part I found was to get it displayed *right* on the screen of multiple browsers. It took about 50% of the development time until now. I can advice you to look and find a PHP application which has at least the style you want to use, such that you can use that as a basis.

Basically, most forms are the same. Only the field contents and the error checking differs. Once you get the style right, it is a lot of copy & paste to customize the fields to your needs. The same goes for your MySQL interface. There are a lot of examples, and it is easy to pick one and adapt it.

One advise: if you use PHP, stay away from JavaScript as much as possible. You can't totally avoid it, but you can shift as much to the server side (PHP) as possible. JavaScript is a nightmare to design and debug. The syntax is critical, failure is mostly silent (it simply doesn't do what you want) and you have no clue why it fails. If you have to change your web page dynamically, do it one the server.

One last thing: the learning curve for PHP + MySQL is not steep.

Old 06-08-2007, 10:26 PM   #5
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While it pains me to suggest a non-linux solution, have you looked at Adobe Acrobat?

I haven't used it myself to distribute forms and collect data, but I have filled in on-line forms produced this way. The form comes as a PDF document with entry fields and displays in the browser via the Acrobat reader plugin.

Perhaps you can just scan an existing document and use Acrobat to convert the paper entry fields to live entry fields. That sounds like and easy solution, if possible.
Old 06-09-2007, 09:59 PM   #6
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Thanks for the responses guys. Looks like i'll have to rough it. The few software programs I found worked rather mediocre. And when I lazed to frontpage/dreamweaver/Open Source wysiwyg editors, all did not display my forms properly in all situations. Only way I found to make stuff show up correctly everywhere is hard-coding it. The 70+ forms are custom to the company I work for. Anybody know of a good questions/answers/how-to site/book for PHP/MYSQL interaction? I've done basics with all of them, but i'm still a beginner and I do not have the knowledge I feel that i'll need to conquer this. Any help would be great, Thanks.


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