Forms in all their infinite variety?

Subject: Forms in all their infinite variety?
From: Geoff hart <ghart -at- attcanada -dot- ca>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Tue, 20 Feb 2001 13:47:51 -0500

Nea Dodson is <<...starting a massive redesign of my section's Intranet site,
which includes a large number of forms. The Powers That Be want these online
forms to be in a format that allows the user to: - Fill them out online without
special plug ins - Send them via email *as a form* (not just the data)- Print
them out for records/faxing, etc.>>

Except for the part about "send them as a form", it sounds like the FormMail
software should do what you're looking for. This is a public domain (or perhaps
shareware) script that runs on a UNIX server and transmits data entered into an
HTML form as an e-mail message; the default redirect page after you click the
submit button is a printable screen that contains the data you entered, but
it's also possible to trap the data and display it in your own custom redirect
page, which would also be printable.

Before we can really resolve the "send them as a form, not just data" part, you
need to define what the PTB mean when they say "form": if they're talking about
specific software, that defines the solution for you, but if not, you need to
get a clear definition before proceeding. Presumably, they mean something that
resembles the original input screen but that isn't editable. It should be
possible to take the output from FormMail and run it through Acrobat to produce
something more nearly like a "form"; for example, the Web-based process for
submitting papers to the upcoming STC conference proceedings lets you upload a
formatted file, and some special software on the Web site transforms it into
PDF automatically and displays it online in Acrobat so you can proof the
results and decide whether it's necessary to resubmit.

<<Acrobat files can't be edited online and emailed back.>>

Yes, they can, but the readers would require the full Acrobat package (perhaps
the "Business Tools" version would suffice), and that violates your "no
plug-ins" requirement. The text annotation and "pen" tools should get the job
done well if having to own Acrobat isn't a problem.

--Geoff Hart ghart -at- netcom -dot- ca
Pointe-Claire, Quebec, Canada
"Most business books are written by consultants and professors who haven't
spent much time in a cubicle. That's like writing a firsthand account of the
Donner party based on the fact that you've eaten beef jerky."--Scott Adams, The
Dilbert Principle



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