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Using Forms on RTPnet

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Information Gathering

Nancy Shoemaker

RTPnet 4th Annual Conference
May 30, 2003
Friday Center, Chapel Hill, NC

This discussion of gathering information from visitors to a web site is an exposition of the form handling tools available on RTPnet, a community network for the Research Triangle Park (NC) area. It does not include any information on how to create a form in HTML. Rather it concentrates on different tools for form processing and how, say, a Community Technology Center director could estimate what tools are needed and so what technical skills might be required by the volunteer creating the form and its handler.

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Information Gathering
Why forms?
Why not just use e-mail?
Example 1 This is a simple form that sends e-mail with unprocessed data
Example 1 - Details
Example 2 This is another simple form that sends e-mail, but this time, the data is formatted in a way that makes it easy to upload to a spreadsheet or database.
Example 2 - Details
Example 3 The form is still simple, but now the data entered by the visitor needs to be "processed".
Example 3 - Results
Example 3 - Details
RTPnet options for forms
Summary of options
Other things to consider
Notes Including links to the example forms.

Text version of slides


Using FormMail on RTPnet
Using Gform on RTPnet (Thanks to Jon Mauney)
PHP (all include MySQL database use)
  1. Paul Whitehead and Joel Desaramo, PHP, Hungry Minds,, 2001, 289 pp., $26.99. Includes CD. Step-by-step with screen shots from getting started to intermediate tasks. Includes function quick reference.
  2. David Sklar and Adam Trachtenberg, PHP Cookbook, O'Reilly,, 2002, 608 pp., $39.95. Task oriented with lots of code examples.
  3. Luke Welling and Laura Thomson, PHP and MySQL Web Development, 2nd ed., Developer's Library,, 2003, 870 pp., $49.99. Includes CD. Extremely clear exposition of syntax and semantics with sections on complete projects such as building a shopping cart.