Google Changing Google Forms again?!?

Earlier today I was alerted to the possibility of Google changing Google Forms again.  Based on my reading, I think it is more than a possibility, it looks like a done deal to me.  This is a major change.

That doesn’t look very good.  Not only does it not look very good, it doesn’t work either.  I have no idea when Google will roll this out.  Almost certainly before I can update the plugin.  Based on my quick look at the HTML of the new form, it is very different than what Google has been generating for a number of years.

The biggest change is Google appears to be using their own custom DIV elements instead of real HTML INPUT elements for things like radio buttons and checkboxes.  I can’t think of why this could/would be a good thing but I am sure there is some rationale behind it. These news forms require Javascript from Google to work and it looks like the actual form submission process is also different.

So … it looks like a lot to figure out at a time when I  am really busy at work.  I am hoping this isn’t wide spread for a while as I don’t expect to have much free time until the Christmas holidays arrive and work will slow down a bit.

Demo Site is running … sort of

The nice folks at WinSwim are interested in what I am doing with this plugin and have offered to host a demo site.  You can find it at:  The demo site is running for the most part, if you are interested in trying it out, go ahead and register with the demo site then drop me an e-mail so I can change your permissions so you can actually do something other than register sample swimmers.

I say the demo site is running “sort of” because just about everything is working although there are a few bugs I know of (e.g. defining age groups).  The one thing which isn’t working and it is driving me nuts is the ability to display a Google Map.  This is a really nice feature that my own team used quite a bit this year.

I have encapsulated a class called Phoogle within wp-SwimTeam and it worked just fine in my development area and on the MacDolphins site.  Phoogle relies on a PHP configuration option known as allow_url_fopen which basically allows PHP to open a web page on an external site and read the content like it would a local file.  It’s a nice feature but one that a lot of web hosting providers turn off.  In fact, the host for the demo site has it turned off.

There is another technology called cURL which for all practical purposes, accomplishes what allow_url_fopen does although it is a little more involved.  I enhanced Phoogle to use cURL if allow_url_fopen is disabled and it worked just fine in my development area.  Great!  The change was pretty simple too.  Uploaded to the production server and nothing.  It doesn’t work there.  It turns out that GoDaddy (the web hosting provider) has a goofy cURL implementation which requires the use of a proxy.

After a much trial and error and a couple e-mails with GoDaddy support, all I have accomplished is a partial cURL request.  I am unable to get a complete response which prevents the map from being displayed.  I then got another e-mail from GoDaddy telling me that cURL is only supported on their Linux hosting environments not under Windows (even though it is enabled in PHP.ini).  Bleh.  ;-(

I think for now when I find a short code, I will check the allow_url_fopen setting and if it is off, will issue a warning during the short code processing.  There is probably a way to interact with the Google Maps API via Javascript, I guess I will need to look into that.  It is really too bad, the Phoogle solution was really simple to use.