WordPress Google Form v0.39 released

This morning I released v0.39 of my WordPress Google Form plugin.  This update addresses the corner case exposed when using WordPress Google Form with the Unite theme from Paralleus.  To solve this incompatibility I’ve introduced a new short code attribute called unitethemehack which defaults to off.  By turning it on, WordPress Google Form will modify the Google Form HTML to protect the Submit button(s) from being manipulated by the Unite theme.

You can find this update in the WordPress plugin repository or as an update on your WordPress Dashboard.

Debugging a Theme conflict with wpGForm

About a week ago I was contacted through my WordPress Google Form Support and Help form by a user of my WordPress Google Form plugin.  The symptoms he described sounded very much like the problem I recently chased down with ModSecurity.  I figured this must be another use model that I hadn’t accounted for.

Fortunately and unfortunately, I was wrong.  After going through the usual process of trying to narrow down the problem (using wpGForm debug mode, disabling all plugins, etc.), we were able to isolate the problem to what I suspected was a theme issue.    Ugh.  A lot of times people don’t want to or can’t change their theme. I wanted to swap the theme for TwentyTen or TwentyEleven but that wasn’t really possible as the site is live and being used.

Now what?  Since the user couldn’t switch the theme and we ended up putting a copy of his theme in a development area and were able to replicate the problem.  Whew – the helped a lot.  I could switch back and forth between his theme and TwentyTen in debug mode and compare the results.

It took a while to track it down but it turns out the theme, Unite from Paralleus, has a jQuery script which scans the page content for Submit Buttons, removes the buttons, and rebuilds them to match the theme style.  In theory this is actually rather clever and makes the submit buttons attractive although I am not sure why it couldn’t be done with CSS classes, I didn’t look at it closely enough.  However, in practice when the submit buttons are reconstructed, they don’t contain all of the attributes they started with so they are not equivalent.  And this matters when submitting a Google form.  A lot.

A Google form just can’t be submitted with a submit button.  It needs to be submitted with the submit action having a named parameter and a value.  Google uses the named parameter and it’s value to support multi-page Google forms.  It is this named parameter and value that Unite strips off effectively making the form incomplete which causes Google to rejects it as an incomplete form.  Because Google rejects it, WordPress Google Form simply redisplays the form again.  To the end user it looks like the form was never submitted.

As a plugin developer, I am not sure what the right answer is here.  Actually, that isn’t true.  I do know the right answer is.  The theme should be fixed but I have zero control and influence over that happening.  To solve the problem in the short term, I have created a hack of sorts that works around this problem with the Unite theme but that is in a one-off build for testing.  What should I do to my plugin?  Add a unitethemehack=’on’ attribute?  Right now that is probably the best option although it feels pretty dirty.  The code to enable this hack is trivial because Unite won’t muck with submit buttons which have the noStyle CSS class applied to them.  At least there is a work-around.  The hack I added to WordPress Google Form is inserting class=”noStyle” to any submit button in the Google Form HTML.

But I am wondering how many more scenarios like this will I run into?  Is there a more general purpose solution?  Probably.  I’ve been thinking about a “find and replace” solution as I was asked about doing something similar previously to rename all of the submit buttons as something else.  I’ll keep noodling but for the time being, I think I’m going forward with a new attribute.

WordPress Google Form v0.38 released

Today I released v0.38 of my WordPress Google Form plugin.  If you look at the change log you’ll see I actually released it a couple times today (ugh).

Release v0.36 addressed a bug when the Browser Check option was enabled.  I susquently released v0.37 because I didn’t tag v0.36 correctly and the WordPress Plugin Repository didn’t see the update.  I then released v0.38 because I left some debug code active that I used to chase down the problem I originally fixed in v0.36.

I apologize for the multiple updates, it certainly was not my intention.  You can find v0.38 on your Dashboard Update or in the WordPress Plugin Repository.

Email Users v4.3.14 released

This morning I pushed the v4.3.14 update to Email Users to the WordPress plugin repository.  This update adds a new Spanish language translation, updates the French language translation, and fixes a problem where users who have either the capability to send to a single user OR the capability to send to multiple users, but not both, receive a permission denied error when trying to send email.  A number of the permission errors have also been updated so they use the proper WordPress styling.

WordPress Google Form v0.33 released

This afternoon I released the v0.33 update to WordPress Google Form.  This update introduces a new setting which allows users who are using the email notification to turn off the Bcc to the Blog Admin feature.  This setting is on my default to match the behavior of the plugin prior to v0.32.

Several other minor bugs were also fixed which affected how default plugin settings are handled.  You can find the update in the WordPress Plugin Repository or on your WordPress Dashboard Update notification.

What happened to v0.32?  I failed to update the version number in the plugin file before tagging the relase in the WordPress plugin repository so I had to increment the version number again.

WordPress Google Form v0.31 released

After a couple weeks of sitting on a new release, I have pushed out v0.31. This release addresses the ModSecurity problem that I had noted in a post a few weeks ago.  After chasing this problem down with the help of several users who were willing to work with debug code and/or give me access to their server, I was able to figure out what was going on.

The simple explanation is that the Apache ModSecurity module can be pretty restrictive and returns 403 errors when a form is submitted.  WordPress then does it’s thing and concludes that the page should be displayed again.  The net result is that form is never submitted and no feedback is provided to the user.  From what I’ve seen, ModSecurity doesn’t like URLs passed as parameters which WordPress Google Form does for the Google Form – it needs it to submit the responses to the form.

With this update two things have changed:

  1. If a 403 error is returned, the plugin will check for it and show a message if/when it happens.
  2. The Google Form URL is passed as an encoded parameter so it doesn’t get flagged by ModSecurity.

These changes won’t address all instances when ModSecurity kicks in – if your form includes any input where a user can type a response AND they user submits a URL as a response, there is a pretty good change a 403 error will be issued by the server.

Hopefully this change will help some very odd use cases where users don’t understand why the plugin isn’t working for them.  It has worked in four  (4) additional situations that users have asked me to look at it plus the two original that I looked at.

You can find the update in the WordPress Plugin Repository.

wpGForm and Apache Sercurity

A while back I was contacted by a user who had deployed wpGForm on their site with a problem they wanted my help with.  In looking at it I was absolutely stumped as to why it wasn’t working.  Nothing appeared obvious – when the form was submitted, the form would be displayed again as if for the first time.  In the process of chasing down this problem I’ve added quite a bit of debug code but in the end, I found Firebug’s Net Panel incredibly useful.

In this particular case it was showing me that the form was being posted but a 403 Permission Denied response resulted.  Why?  The exact same URL worked to show the form, why wasn’t it working to process the form?  I ended up separating the rendering and processing part of the plugin thinking this was the problem (like it was on a site a couple of weeks ago) but it didn’t make any difference (although it was the right thing to do).  I was still getting 403 problems.

I was working closely with the site owner, they were nice enough to allow me to really dig into their site.  What did I find?  A bunch of plugin and theme minor issues that I chased thinking they were conflicting somehow to no avail.  I ended up opening a ticket with the hosting provider and once we clarrified the problem, they sent me so error log information:

[error] ModSecurity: Access denied with code 403 (phase 2).Match of "rx
://%{SERVER_NAME}/" against "MATCHED_VARS:gform-action" required.
[file "/usr/local/apache/conf/modsec/10_asl_rules.conf"]
[line "489"]
[id "340162"]
[rev "262"]
[msg "Atomicorp.com UNSUPPORTED DELAYED Rules: Remote File Injection attempt
in ARGS (AE)"] [data "
https://docs.google.com/spreadsheet/formresponse?formkey=dhzsutftwllwzwf6lwd
yb0xcmkzsogc6mq&ifq
"]
[severity "CRITICAL"]
[hostname "lanaddicts.org"]
[uri "/test-form/"]
[unique_id "UAbUbnrJTaEAAHtoboQAAAAG"]

Wow! At first I didn’t know what to make of this. A Google Search led me to this Atomic Corp Wiki. I decided that the Apache Security Module must not like the Google Form URL that I need to carry around through the process in order to submit the form variables to Google. I decided to encode it and then decode it when needed to see if that would satisfy the Apache Security Module.

Guess what?  It works!!!!  This is a big relief as I have another user with almost the exact same error being reported and I am betting my updated plugin will fix their problem too.

If you want to try out an early build while I continue to test, you can find one here.

I am now contributing to the E-Mail Users plugin

I am happy to say that I have been granted Subversion commit access to the popular Email Users plugin.  I have been using this plugin for a number of years and have submitted several patches which were included in the 3.4.x releases.  Recently I needed to add some functionality to support the MacDolphins web site and use of the plugin and after submitting a patch, I was invited to be a contributor by Vincent Prat at Marvin Labs which I gladly accepted.

The 4.0.0 release of Email Users is a pretty substantial change.  It updates the plugin to use the WordPress Options API and updated menu API.  It also adds a new feature that allows easy access to managing the email options for one or more users.  No more visiting the User Profile for each user, bulk actions are now available!

More to come over the next few days.

WordPress Google Form v0.30 now available

Similar to yesterday’s update, today I pushed out wpGForm v0.30.  This version  addresses an unusual problem which prevents the custom confirmation CSS from loading properly.

In some cases, it appears that a plugin or theme, through the use of a filter (likely the_content or wpautop), was inserting paragraph tags into the content which by itself isn’t a problem, however when enabled, wpGForm adds a custom CSS block to style the form during processing, so the CSS definition portion of the content ended up with paragraph tags in it.  This results in CSS which won’t parse correctly and of course it never styles the form.  I have updated the plugin to generate the CSS definition as a single line of text where it previously spanned several lines for readability purposes.

The update should appear on your Dashboard shortly and is also available from the WordPress Plugin Repository.

WordPress Google Form v0.29 now available

Today I pushed out wpGForm v0.29.  This version adds one new feature and addresses an unusual problem which prevents the custom confirmation page, either AJAX or redirection, from loading properly.

In some cases, it appears that a plugin or theme, through the use of a filter (likely the_content or wpautop), was inserting paragraph tags into the content which by itself isn’t a problem, however wpGForm adds a jQuery script to the content during processing, so the jQuery script portion of the content ended up with paragraph tags in it.  This results in Javascript which won’t parse correctly and of course it never runs.  I have updated the plugin to generate the jQuery script as a single line of text where it previously spanned several lines for readability purposes.

Based on several requests, I have added a new short code attribute, sendto=<email address>, which when used in conjunction with email=’on’, will send a form submission note to the specified email address instead of the blog administrator (who is still bcc’d for backup purposes).

The update should appear on your Dashboard shortly and is also available from the WordPress Plugin Repository.