Google to discontinue ability to downgrade Google Forms

I knew the day would inevitably come when Google Forms could no longer be downgraded.  Based on a recent Google announcement, that day appears to be August 22, 2018 – very soon.  Almost certainly too soon for me to do anything about it in the plugin.

As I have noted in a number of posts and in many WordPress Support Forum threads, the change Google made back in 2015 to the HTML used for a form is significant and not well suited to how the Google Forms plugin works.  Instead of using traditional HTML form elements, Google is using DIV tags with CSS class names and Javascript to render a form.

I will take a look at it again but cannot make any promises.  If someone wants to pick up development of the plugin, it is hosted on GitHub and we can figure out how to add another developer for the plugin repository.

This announcement from Google does not bode well for the future of the Google Forms plugin.  The last time I looked into supporting the new version of forms I determined it was a non-trivial amount of work and I wasn’t even sure it was possible.  It is a fair amount of work just to get a new form to render in WordPress before I can even see what happens when it is submitted.

I know this isn’t happy news for a lot of people.  This effort started as a simple plugin to help the middle school my children attended collect some information from parents.  It has grown to 20,000+ installs, far larger than I ever expected.

For those who wonder how much has been donated over the years, the total is probably about $100.  I received a donation yesterday for the first time in roughly six months.  I didn’t write this plugin to make money (there isn’t much to make), I did it because I had a problem to solve and couldn’t find a solution.  I decided to share it because I thought it was useful and it seemed to be but I am afraid its longevity may have come to an end.

If it rains all weekend here in North Carolina like it is supposed to, I may have some time to start looking at this but I no longer have a personal use for the plugin.  My kids have all grown and I have moved on from all of the volunteer activities I used it for (mostly school and sports teams).

I don’t simply want to walk away and leave people, particularly those who use it to support their business, in a lurch but please understand, there may not be much I can do.

22 thoughts on “Google to discontinue ability to downgrade Google Forms

  1. Thank so much, Mike!!! It would be so great if you could do something.

  2. Thank you very much, Mike, for developing this plugin, for sharing it and for keeping it updated. You really helped me out!

  3. Thank you for all you’ve done with this plugin, Mike! I just started managing the websites for my church and also my kids’ affiliated private school last year and this plugin was an amazing find! It allowed me to embed registration forms for all of the school programs without having to use iFrames and keep with the style of my WP theme. I was just up tonight working on the page updating some plugins and came across this sad news. It’s a shame Google doesn’t see the benefit of something like this and is choosing to go down a different path, but I unfortunately I can’t say I’m surprised. If you ever have opportunity to look into this again, please know that another school administrator would greatly benefit from your efforts!

  4. I also want to thank you for all the support and your wonderful plugin. I am truly devastated that it may go away. As all of us I very much hope you’ll be able to keep it going.

    • I appreciate the kind words and I feel bad about leaving people hanging. Unfortunately I don’t think I’ll be able to keep it going and it isn’t because I don’t want to.

      I spent some time Saturday morning looking at the HTML for the new forms again and there doesn’t seem to be a lot of predictable structure I can possibly parse. I cannot even figure out how to process the form enough to render it much less submit it. I’ll look at it again when I have time but my August work schedule has me traveling 4/5 weeks and it is really hard to do any serious development while I am on the road.

  5. Thank you, Mike, for all your wonderful support and plugin. I am devastated that your plugin in danger of disappearing – I sincerely hope not.
    All of us want to keep it going.

  6. Mike, I have super appreciated this plugin, but if this next change doesn’t break it, another in the pipeline probably will. That being the likely case, perhaps it would be better to recommend another solution. In the past people generally picked this plugin because it made integration seem seamless to the user. No weird google response, for example. Nobody likes iframes, but if that’s the best option and if there are ways to make the google forms seem part of the website instead of some shoehorn solution, I’m game. And I suspect most other users would be as well. Do you have any recommendations?

    • Embedding the form is the only solution I know that will work. And they are ugly. I just did a survey on a WordPress site this morning which had an embedded form and it looked so out of place it was distracting. WordPress has greatly improved the ability to manage custom CSS as part of the native installation, someone well versed in CSS can probably do something to make an embedded form look a little better but IFRAME structure is essentially sandboxed by design so there is only so much you can do. I am not aware of another solution other than plugins specifically designed to build forms on WordPress (like Gravity Forms).

      • Okay, thank you for looking into it. I’ll keep visiting here over the next couple weeks to see if there is another option as I gear up to adapt to this new reality.

  7. Should we do some crowdfunding. 20.000 installs. If if 10% of us gives $20, this might get somewhere?

    • I would be for it if it would lead to us to the much desired result.

    • I’d do $20. For heavens sake … they’re just bits and the cost of space is so cheap I don’t get why there’s not more competition in this arena to drive down the costs of absurdly expensive solutions like gravity forms or wufoo.

  8. Hi Mike:

    Many thanks for the use of this plugin. It’s been in use on an animal rescue’s site so your work has assisted in the cause of rehoming cats and dogs.

    All software has a life cycle so have no regrets if you can’t keep this one going, because it did it’s job well.

  9. Morning, I found this survey:
    in the Google Forms product foundf page here:

    Perhaps if enough people tell Google that we don’t want them to discontinue the old forms, they may relent!

    Mike, thank you so much for your work on this plug in, it has made my site. Any of the other options don’t have the support or plug ins that Google forms do and your WordPress plug in made the form match my site perfectly!

  10. Thanks for the update, Mike,
    Good fortune in whatever next adventures may come…

    • Wouter, I had a look at this but unfortunately this won’t work for me. I use the Google sheet for mailmerge and this works only with the Google Form which inputs data into the sheet on “submit”. This will not work with your suggestion. Thanks for letting us know in any case. All suggestions are welcome.

  11. Thank you for this suggestion. Could you please let us know if this works with check boxes and radio buttons?

    • The plugin supports checkboxes and radio buttons IF the form can be downgraded. It is the ability to downgrade the form which Google is in the process of removing. Without the ability to downgrade a form, the Google Forms plugin no longer works going forward. If you’re just starting out right now, it is unlikely it will work for you unless I can figure out a way to support the new version of Forms which has been a challenge.

  12. I am trying to reply to Wouter’s suggestion on using CF7 plugin but am not getting anywhere. Does this Does this work with checkboxes and radio buttons?

    • If you have questions regarding Contact Form 7, you’ll need to address them with that plugin author. There is nothing the Google Forms plugin can or should do with Contact Form 7 data – two separate plugins.

      • Thank you, Mike for both replies but I am trying to reply to Wouter and my question on checkboxes and radio buttons is for him – not for the Google Form plugin. Unfortunately my reply is not being added in or is not getting into the right place. I would really like to know more from Wouter – but I am failing here. Thank you for replying anyway.

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