WordPress Google Form v0.61-beta-1 available

About a week ago I was approached with an interesting problem.  A user wanted to have the same form on single page three times.  Three instances of the same form.  Each instance would have some hidden values to determine which form was submitted.

The problem was by putting the same exact form on the page multiple times, a lot of the content (id and name attributes) was duplicated and as such, caused problems upon submission or even trying to move from field to field on the form.  The current (v0.60) version of the plugin is effectively broken for multiple forms except in the simplest of cases (no CAPTCHA, validation, presets, etc.).

I’ve come up with a solution that needs some testing.  I’ve added a new short code attribute to the wpgform shortcode which takes a string value and uses it as a unique identifier to ensure the replicated fields are actually unique in the source HTML.

In the image below you can see the text “B-” has been prepended to the id attribute for the form tag and an input tag.  The “B-” was the value of the uid parameter in the shortcode for the form.

[wpgform id='879' uid='B-']

GForm_SS_69

Download this beta version and run it through its paces.  The ripple effect of this change across the code was pretty significant so I’d like to make sure it didn’t break anything.

Google Forms Beta (928 downloads)

WordPress Google Form v0.59 released

After I have not had any reports of issues since releasing beta-3 so I have pushed out the formal release.  You can find v0.59 in the WordPress plugin repository or on your Dashboard.

Enhancements and Bug Fixes in v0.59:

  • Added ability to preset values for Google form as part of WordPress URL.
  • Added new CSS declarations to default plugin CSS to account for recent changes by Google to Forms.
  • Added ability to define fields as “hidden” and preset with a user defined or system defined value.
  • Fixed validation limitation which only allowed one validation rule per input.
  • Added basic support (CSS, jQuery) to use WordPress Google Form to view a Google Spreadsheet within WordPress.

WordPress Google Form v0.59-beta-3 now available

The beta-3 release of WordPress Google Form v0.59 is now available for testing.  This latest update includes basic support for using the plugin to embed Google Spreadsheets in WordPress (yes, it can do that – see this post).  When you use the published HTML page URL for a Google Spreadsheet as the URL source when defining a Google Form, you will end up with something which looks like this:

GForm_SS_68

You can view this spreadsheet/form page here.  You can use form specific Custom CSS to tailor the table to meet your needs too.  I used the following Custom CSS to get the columns evenly spaced:

tr.rShim ~ tr td { width: 33% !important;}

Google Forms Beta (928 downloads)

wpGForm Unintended Functionality

For the past couple days I have been helping a user who was running into some problems with WordPress Google Form.  There are two threads on the WordPress Support Forum (here and here) where we went back and forth with me trying to understand his problem.  Eventually we moved to email so he could send me some screen shots as he wasn’t working on a live site.

As you can see from the support threads, I was rather confused as to what the user was trying to do.  It turns out, this user was using WordPress Google Form to display a Google Spreadsheet as opposed to a Google Form.  Once I understood what the user was doing the questions made a whole lot more sense.

The part which still didn’t make sense was why he was using WordPress Google Form to display the spreadsheet instead of a plugin dedicated for the task (e.g. Inline Google Spreadsheet Viewer).  I had never tried using my plugin to view a spreadsheet as it was never designed for that purpose.

As it turns out, for the most part it works.  If you publish a spreadsheet and use the URL when defining a Google Form, you will end up with something which looks like this:

GForm_SS_65

Surprisingly, it doesn’t look all that bad.  With a little bit of Custom CSS, it could actually look pretty good.  Here is some form specific Custom CSS I added to the form definition:

td.hd {
 display: none;
}
tr.rShim td {
 width: auto !important;
}
div div span.powered {
 display: none;
}
div.listview {
 display: none;
}

The result now looks pretty good.

GForm_SS_66

The header rows and and the table content are actually output by Google in separate tables.  It would be nice if they were in a single table – I am not sure of the logic behind having them as separate tables but that is what Google generates.

I am adding some new functionality to support this unusual usage of the plugin.  Because the Google “Powered By” block contains a link to the original spreadsheet, which often times is a undesirable, if the Legal option is turned off for the defined form, the “Powered By” block will be removed with jQuery.

I am also going to add some basic CSS (like above) to the default CSS to support this as well.  Look for a new beta release shortly.

Email Users v4.6.2 released

This morning I released version 4.6.2 of Email Users.  This release addresses several translation issues and updates the Bulgarian translation.  More importantly, this release adds an integration with ItThinx Groups!  This new feature is one that has been requested several times and I finally had the time to work on it.

You can download the update from the WordPress plugin repository or find the update on your Dashboard.

Time to learn Ruby on Rails?

Last Friday my manager approached me with a problem.  It is interesting problem, the sort of out of left field problems he likes to throw at me from time to time.  It is one of those problems that there isn’t a good solution for without developing something completely proprietary as it would have zero value to anyone else but the members of our team.

So what is the problem?  We have a bunch of text files that have diagnostic information about one of our products.  There is no way to do any analysis on this data because they are just ASCII text files.  Like lots of companies, we do lots of Pivot Tables and Charts in Excel to analyze data but in this case, I don’t think it is the right answer.  At least not initially.  We want to collect these text reports over time and load them all into a single database so the collective data can be analyzed.  We’re looking for trends in reliability and things like that.  Once all of the data is compiled into a database, we’ll likely extract slices of it for analysis using Excel but I don’t want to build up an “Excel database” – wrong solution to this problem.

I’ve been using WordPress, PHP, and MySQL for years so it is my “go to” solution for problems like this one.  I don’t see any reason to involve WordPress as it is really just a data parsing and database application that needs a minimal UI to upload the data and browse it.  I’ve done things like this in PHP previously but I am thinking this might be a good opportunity to learn something new.

learning_railsI had picked up Learning Rails a couple years ago when I considered Rails, for similar reasons, for another project which never went anywhere.  I dusted off mycopy of Learning Rails and for the last few days I’ve been reading through it while I was at the gym.

So far from what I’ve read it looks like a viable solution to quickly put together a solution which (a) needs a database and (b) will be very low usage.  I think the biggest challenge I’ll face putting something together will be parsing the ASCII file in Ruby (which I’ve never used) but I am sure I will be able to figure it out.  The format of the file is fairly regular with sections of data but each section is slightly different.  Unfortunately it isn’t something simple to parse like a CSV file.

This morning I created a new Ubuntu (also a first for me) Virtual Machine and used this Guide from GoRails to install and configure RoR.  In the course of two hours I have built a new VM, installed Ubuntu, and installed RoR.  I am ready to start playing around and see what I can do.

Depending on how this goes, I’ve got a couple other projects in mind that RoR might be a better solution for than building a WordPress plugin.  We’ll see …

WordPress Google Form v0.59-beta-2 now available

This morning I released beta-2 of WordPress Google Form v0.59.  This build introduces one new feature (hidden fields) and fixes one limitation (validation rules).

Much like validation rules and placeholders, an input field can now be defined as hidden.  When a field is defined as hidden, it does not appear to the user when they view the form and the value is set to a fixed value (e.g. a static string) or to something WordPress derives (e.g. the user’s IP address).

GForm_SS_64

The format of the field name is exactly the same as used for validation and placeholders.

Validation has been improved and the limitation of one validation rule per field has been lifted.  You can now define multiple validation rules for a single field.  Simply enter the field name for each separate type of validation.

Google Forms Beta (928 downloads)

Email Users v4.6.2-beta-2 now available

I am close to releasing Email Users v4.6.2.  This update addresses some issues in the README file and some translation string issues on the Options page.  There is no new functionality or bug fixes since beta-1.

I would like to get as many of the translations as possible updated before releasing 4.6.2.

Email Users Beta (754 downloads)

Email Users v4.6.2-beta-1 available

This morning I posted the first beta release (beta-1) of Email Users 4.6.2.  This release includes integration with the ItThinx Groups plugin.  I also took the opportunity to refactor the code for integration so code isn’t unnecessarily loaded when a plugin isn’t installed and clean up the plugin’s ReadMe file.

If you use ItThinx Groups I would appreciate any feedback you can provide.

Email Users Beta (754 downloads)