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Free Joomla Form Builders

Like many Joomla extensions, form builders are available in both free and commercial variants. Depending on your needs, it may make sense to purchase a commercial extension as they are more versatile and easier to use than any of the free options. But in this post, I examine the major free Joomla form builders.

Joomla Core

Most websites need a contact page and it's always a good idea to include a feedback form. I find that including a form encourages more submissions than a simple email link. If all you need to do is capture a name, email and message, then its hard to go past the standard Contact component that is part of the Joomla core. The one thing that stopped me using this regularly was the lack of a captcha field because unless this was added via a third party extension, it always led to a lot of automated spam submissions. reCaptcha integration is one of the new features added to Joomla 2.5. So it is now easy to create and manage a simple form, just by using Joomla out-of-the-box.

Standard Joomla contact form

RSForm!

This used to be the standard when it came to free form builders as it was miles ahead of the rest in terms of ease of use. However it is only available for Joomla 1.5. The developer's forum has several unanswered questions on this topic and some months ago I asked the same question on their Facebook page to no reply. I therefore assume it has been abandoned. They do however have an excellent commercial version, RSForm!Pro, which is compatible with Joomla 2.5.

Proforms Basic

I was pretty much turned off this one right away because the interface and controls don't "feel like Joomla". It has a unique look and the buttons have been placed in an odd position. Now if the features and functions made up for this then I would have seen past this deficiency. But sadly they didn't as it wasn't obvious what to do and so this one quickly fell off my list. Incidentally, the Joomla Administrator user experience is the main feature being worked on for version 3.0 and I expect that future third party extensions will have a more consistent look and feel.

The Proforms interface

Breezing Forms

This one looked promising as the interface has a clean and simple look. I could immediately identify where to go to manage forms and submitted data. The first hurdle I encountered was where to start. There are three methods to create a new form; QuickMode, Easy Mode and ClassicMode. As the names didn't really help me to decide which one to try, I took a punt and went with Easy Mode which was easy at first, as adding fields is just a matter of dragging and dropping. This mode appears to be the most flexible as you can drag the field boxes to your desired size. But this flexibility is also a weakness as once you do this, there's no going back and I could never get the boxes aligned correctly. Having lost patience with this one feature, I gave up. Breezing Forms appears to have a lot of features and flexibility, but be prepared to spend some time in the docs.

Chronoforms

Several of our members had recommended this one in our forum, so I had high hopes. But once again I was let down as it isn't immediately obvious how to save form data. But as the form field drag and drop function is excellent, I became determined to look further. Most form builders automatically save the submissions to a database, but Chronoforms requires a table to be created for each form. This is not as scary as it sounds, as this is managed through Administrator and once you've done it once, you'll know what to do next time. The biggest disappointment is the way form submissions are displayed in Administrator. The only data displayed on the summary page is a simple list. To view the full data, you need to open each record individually or download the data and open it in a spreadsheet.

At time of writing, Chronoforms is not listed at the Joomla Extensions Directory (JED). It has been unpublished as the component includes encryption. I'm guessing this may have something to do with the fact that the free version includes a link back to their site and this part of the script might be encrypted which is a violation of the JED rules. If this is the case, it doesn't affect the working of the component, but I mention it in case you're wondering why it is isn't on the JED.

Chronoforms drag and drop form builder

CCK's

A CCK (content construction kit) is an extension that allows a site owner to create their own "document type" with unique fields. Fabrikar is a well-established application builder for Joomla and so I gave it a try. But its flexibility, and that of other CCK's like K2, is its downfall in this case. They're just far too cumbersome for everyday forms.

That's the main contenders as they stand right now, but check out the forms category at the JED to see if there are any new options now.

The winner is ... well for me its a commercial extension. None of the free ones I tested is brilliant. But as this article is about free form builders, I have to go with Chronoforms. The interface is not intuitive, but once you understand the concepts, everything falls into place.

A new version of our Forms tutorial series is currently in production and the lessons demonstrate how to use Chronoforms. Although I prefer using the commercial RSForm! Pro for my projects, many beginners will want to use a free form builder. And in this case I don't want subscribers to pay for our training, only to discover they need to pay more money to buy an extension. This step-by-step training series will be added to our Beyond the Basics course in a couple of weeks.

What is your experience with free or paid Joomla form builders? Leave your comments below.

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Comments 27

Ian Hayward on Thursday, 14 June 2012 18:17

Having tried most of these at some time or other - and bought bfForms - I now use one you haven't mentioned - Google Forms. Not strictly a Joomla extension I know, but it's the ease of data handling that I particularly like - all of which is easily exportable. Very easy to build quite complex forms.

Easy to insert the iframe in your article or custom html module - especially if you use a very useful extension called Sourcerer.

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Having tried most of these at some time or other - and bought bfForms - I now use one you haven't mentioned - Google Forms. Not strictly a Joomla extension I know, but it's the ease of data handling that I particularly like - all of which is easily exportable. Very easy to build quite complex forms. Easy to insert the iframe in your article or custom html module - especially if you use a very useful extension called Sourcerer.
Richard Pearce on Friday, 15 June 2012 06:37

I wanted this post to be about native Joomla form extensions. Here's a video on how to embed a Google form into Joomla.

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I wanted this post to be about native Joomla form extensions. Here's a video on [url="http://www.buildajoomlawebsite.com/blog/tutorial/how-to-embed-a-google-form-into-joomla"]how to embed a Google form into Joomla[/url].
JP Fourie on Friday, 15 June 2012 09:00

Thank you Richard.

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Thank you Richard.
Smith on Friday, 15 June 2012 09:59

Is it possible to use Google forms and also incorporate reCAPTCHA? As its a google product I would hope this is possible?

Regards,

Tony.

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Is it possible to use Google forms and also incorporate reCAPTCHA? As its a google product I would hope this is possible? Regards, Tony.
Robert Wilson on Tuesday, 19 June 2012 01:43

I'm hoping they implement this soon as well. Currently it's possible I think if you can code it yourself within the PHP of your template, but it's not yet easily available for the normal user.

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I'm hoping they implement this soon as well. Currently it's possible I think if you can code it yourself within the PHP of your template, but it's not yet easily available for the normal user.
Bob on Friday, 15 June 2012 07:46

I use Jotform.com It is not a native Joomla extension however it is very easy to use with simple drop and drag functions. I have used it on a number of sites. NO complaints..

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I use Jotform.com It is not a native Joomla extension however it is very easy to use with simple drop and drag functions. I have used it on a number of sites. NO complaints..
Guest - Phil Rubie on Friday, 15 June 2012 10:24

Hi Richard...
Have you seen/played with JotForm (http://www.jotform.com)
Not a Joomla extension BUT!!!!! (nevertheless it still may suit some who have a fear of forms...cough cough coughMe)

This is a VERY simple and intuitive way to include both simple AND complex forms within your website. No I'm not getting paid for this...just a happy user!....it really does provide a professional FREE great result.

Kind Regards,
Phil. (Subscriber)

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Hi Richard... Have you seen/played with JotForm (http://www.jotform.com) Not a Joomla extension BUT!!!!! (nevertheless it still may suit some who have a fear of forms...cough cough coughMe) This is a VERY simple and intuitive way to include both simple AND complex forms within your website. No I'm not getting paid for this...just a happy user!....it really does provide a professional FREE great result. Kind Regards, Phil. (Subscriber)
witkowski on Friday, 15 June 2012 16:08

chronoforms is a good choice. It is the one which offers the more freedom for doing the things you have to do.
But this freedom has a price, you should know html,php,sql and ajax if you want to use the advanced mode for creating a form.
no need of this if you use the wizard mode.
The documentation is ok, and the developper is always on his forum and very accessible.
That's the best thing about this component. you are not alone..

And that's why i use this... freedom to do everything, open source, and when i had a problem, a search, a question or a look at the forum and i have the answer .

this component worth the time that you pass to learn about it.

Sorry for my poor english.

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chronoforms is a good choice. It is the one which offers the more freedom for doing the things you have to do. But this freedom has a price, you should know html,php,sql and ajax if you want to use the advanced mode for creating a form. no need of this if you use the wizard mode. The documentation is ok, and the developper is always on his forum and very accessible. That's the best thing about this component. you are not alone.. And that's why i use this... freedom to do everything, open source, and when i had a problem, a search, a question or a look at the forum and i have the answer . this component worth the time that you pass to learn about it. Sorry for my poor english.
Richard Pearce on Friday, 15 June 2012 16:14

Your English is a lot better than my French :D

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Your English is a lot better than my French :D
Guest - harry on Friday, 15 June 2012 18:46

Nobody mentioned Fox Contact Form. Even the free version of this is excellent - very easy to use with configurable fields.

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Nobody mentioned Fox Contact Form. Even the free version of this is excellent - very easy to use with configurable fields.
Linda Nelson on Friday, 15 June 2012 23:53

Thank you for this post. I spent a good bit of time trying to find a form builder that met the requirements of our site and failed. We need teachers to be able to add/edit/delete class information on our front end. We now have created a couple of tables to support our data requirements and we use Art Data for front end display. At the moment, I enter all data using phpMyAdmin. Not a good solution.

I have experimented with Breezing forms (commercial version), but the table structure it uses is very unfriendly to any ad hoc sql query. I also found that data update functions seem to be able only on the back end.

I was interested in your note that Chronoforms allows the developer to create a form specific table. I'll have to check it out.

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Thank you for this post. I spent a good bit of time trying to find a form builder that met the requirements of our site and failed. We need teachers to be able to add/edit/delete class information on our front end. We now have created a couple of tables to support our data requirements and we use Art Data for front end display. At the moment, I enter all data using phpMyAdmin. Not a good solution. I have experimented with Breezing forms (commercial version), but the table structure it uses is very unfriendly to any ad hoc sql query. I also found that data update functions seem to be able only on the back end. I was interested in your note that Chronoforms allows the developer to create a form specific table. I'll have to check it out.
Guest - Ronald Scott on Saturday, 16 June 2012 00:14

I agree with Harry, Fox contact is probably good for 90% of all form needs. Other then intricate user functions, it is my favorite.

And, it is the most simple to use, let's you hook to menu items directly. The menu item is the Fox contact form - a stroke of genius.

Ron

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I agree with Harry, Fox contact is probably good for 90% of all form needs. Other then intricate user functions, it is my favorite. And, it is the most simple to use, let's you hook to menu items directly. The menu item is the Fox contact form - a stroke of genius. Ron
Guest - George on Saturday, 16 June 2012 11:50

I too am a big fan of Fox Contact Forms.

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I too am a big fan of Fox Contact Forms.
Brad Hamilton on Wednesday, 20 June 2012 08:49

I chose ChronoForm based on a suggestion in the Forum, and I'm pretty happy with it. It did require a bit of a learning curve. While I too found the ChronoForm forum helpful, the initial documentation for how to use it was difficult to find, and the book that costs money did not even cover the current version. Somehow, I stumbled across some basic tutorials on YouTube, and that got me over the hump. So my qualified endorsement of ChronoForms comes with a tip for anyone getting started. Search YouTube first for basic tutorials!

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I chose ChronoForm based on a suggestion in the Forum, and I'm pretty happy with it. It did require a bit of a learning curve. While I too found the ChronoForm forum helpful, the initial documentation for how to use it was difficult to find, and the book that costs money did not even cover the current version. Somehow, I stumbled across some basic tutorials on YouTube, and that got me over the hump. So my qualified endorsement of ChronoForms comes with a tip for anyone getting started. Search YouTube first for basic tutorials!
Richard Pearce on Wednesday, 20 June 2012 08:59

Or wait a week and watch our Chronoforms tutorials in Beyond the Basics. :D

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Or wait a week and watch our Chronoforms tutorials in Beyond the Basics. :D
Brad Hamilton on Wednesday, 20 June 2012 10:51

LOL. I'd forgotten that I had just read that your new tutorials would cover ChronoForms when I left that comment. I'm sure your will cover the topic very well, I just wish they were there 4 months ago!

Another "review" addition. Richard mentioned that ChronoForms requires each form to create a new table, which is by default, put into the Joomla DB. Another reason this feature is good, is that ChronoForms ALSO allows you to write to an external DB. That was needed and proved essential in my case.

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LOL. I'd forgotten that I had just read that your new tutorials would cover ChronoForms when I left that comment. I'm sure your will cover the topic very well, I just wish they were there 4 months ago! Another "review" addition. Richard mentioned that ChronoForms requires each form to create a new table, which is by default, put into the Joomla DB. Another reason this feature is good, is that ChronoForms ALSO allows you to write to an external DB. That was needed and proved essential in my case.
Guest - Yana on Tuesday, 24 July 2012 00:53

Hi,

I am absolutely newbie in Joomla and trying to figure out this CMS hard. I try to make a small hotel web site. Firstly I thought to install a booking engine such as Jomres, but after a while realized that this is too early yet for me. In my initial design I have a simple form on the home page, which works as a booking form, where users can chose arrival and departure date and after submiting the information goes to email I stated in settings. For this purpose I have installed the Proforms Basic Joomla component. I have created a template for the form and a form. As my website is already set up as a multilanguage site, I created stand alone menu with the menu item for the form. Now on the home page I get a ling to the form, but unfortunately my knowledge does not allow me to understand wow I can display exactly my form on the home page, not a link to it... Hope anyone will be able to understand my messy writing. Thanks for your time and really looking forward to read an answer.

Cheers, Yana

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Hi, I am absolutely newbie in Joomla and trying to figure out this CMS hard. I try to make a small hotel web site. Firstly I thought to install a booking engine such as Jomres, but after a while realized that this is too early yet for me. In my initial design I have a simple form on the home page, which works as a booking form, where users can chose arrival and departure date and after submiting the information goes to email I stated in settings. For this purpose I have installed the Proforms Basic Joomla component. I have created a template for the form and a form. As my website is already set up as a multilanguage site, I created stand alone menu with the menu item for the form. Now on the home page I get a ling to the form, but unfortunately my knowledge does not allow me to understand wow I can display exactly my form on the home page, not a link to it... Hope anyone will be able to understand my messy writing. Thanks for your time and really looking forward to read an answer. Cheers, Yana
Marakis on Friday, 17 August 2012 10:06

I recently installed chronoforms because I need to build a form for my joomla site but do not know the first thing about html,css and php coding. At first I was impressed, and I personally found it to be much more user friendly than rsforms.
I am trying to build a form that would look very similar to this -> http://www.madeira-seekers.com/Madeira-SeekersBookingForm2.html. As you can see its a lengthy form with a lot of fields being repeated.
I experienced two major problems with chronoforms.

Firstly, using the drag and drop feature (your only option for someone with my programming skills), you cant take a field that you just created and repeat it. Like Richard mentioned, to view, label or edit the data and set certain parameters in a specific field after you have dragged it into your form, you have to open each field individually. This takes up much time. So you cant for example take 5 or 6 fields that you created in your form and copy and paste them later in your form. If you do edit using code, then you can never go back to the drag and drop wizard without all your html editing being undone.

Secondly, it does not have the ability to send you an email where only the fields that have been selected, ticked or filled out will be sent to you. In a form like the one I am trying to copy, it will not suppress the fields that are blank or that have a zero value. So if a person only picks 1 of the 2-300 options available you will still be sent a cumbersome email with empty or zero fields showing, leaving you trying to sift through the info trying to find the relevant data.

Any ideas on a open source form builder that would be able to accomplish what I am trying to achieve?

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I recently installed chronoforms because I need to build a form for my joomla site but do not know the first thing about html,css and php coding. At first I was impressed, and I personally found it to be much more user friendly than rsforms. I am trying to build a form that would look very similar to this -> www.madeira-seekers.com/Madeira-SeekersBookingForm2.html. As you can see its a lengthy form with a lot of fields being repeated. I experienced two major problems with chronoforms. Firstly, using the drag and drop feature (your only option for someone with my programming skills), you cant take a field that you just created and repeat it. Like Richard mentioned, to view, label or edit the data and set certain parameters in a specific field after you have dragged it into your form, you have to open each field individually. This takes up much time. So you cant for example take 5 or 6 fields that you created in your form and copy and paste them later in your form. If you do edit using code, then you can never go back to the drag and drop wizard without all your html editing being undone. Secondly, it does not have the ability to send you an email where only the fields that have been selected, ticked or filled out will be sent to you. In a form like the one I am trying to copy, it will not suppress the fields that are blank or that have a zero value. So if a person only picks 1 of the 2-300 options available you will still be sent a cumbersome email with empty or zero fields showing, leaving you trying to sift through the info trying to find the relevant data. Any ideas on a open source form builder that would be able to accomplish what I am trying to achieve?
Richard Pearce on Monday, 20 August 2012 17:13

Sorry I don't have an easy answer for this. You might ask ChronoEngine if they have a suggestion. But it's pretty likely that you'll need some custom programming.

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Sorry I don't have an easy answer for this. You might ask ChronoEngine if they have a suggestion. But it's pretty likely that you'll need some custom programming.
Francois Barnard on Thursday, 06 September 2012 18:35

Hi Richard
My needs for a form are to register the teachers and parents of a small primary school on the website. The standard user registration does not allow questions as to what the child's name and grade is. Or what grade the teacher teaches. So I opted for RSForm!Pro, which can of course do all of the above, IF you have knowledge of how to set up those dreaded php-scripts! I hope I have not wasted my 19euros!
Have you had any experience with this product?
Regards,
F

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Hi Richard My needs for a form are to register the teachers and parents of a small primary school on the website. The standard user registration does not allow questions as to what the child's name and grade is. Or what grade the teacher teaches. So I opted for RSForm!Pro, which can of course do all of the above, IF you have knowledge of how to set up those dreaded php-scripts! I hope I have not wasted my 19euros! Have you had any experience with this product? Regards, F
Robert Wilson on Friday, 07 September 2012 02:46

Francois,

RSForm! Pro is a great option for your situation, and you definitely do NOT need to know any PHP to use it for your purposes. That's the whole reason to use a form extension like this one.

You do need to read the documentation to find out how to add fields to your form and then publish it in a Menu Item or include it in an Article. The easiest method is to set it up through a Menu Item.

If you're not familiar already, you might also want to read up on web forms so you know the difference between the fields and when to use each one. For instance, if it's a Yes / No question you'll probably want to use a radio button, but if you need someone to enter a name, you'll probably want a text field. Knowledge of the different fields is really helpful.

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Francois, RSForm! Pro is a great option for your situation, and you definitely do NOT need to know any PHP to use it for your purposes. That's the whole reason to use a form extension like this one. You do need to read the documentation to find out how to add fields to your form and then publish it in a Menu Item or include it in an Article. The easiest method is to set it up through a Menu Item. If you're not familiar already, you might also want to read up on web forms so you know the difference between the fields and when to use each one. For instance, if it's a Yes / No question you'll probably want to use a radio button, but if you need someone to enter a name, you'll probably want a text field. Knowledge of the different fields is really helpful.
Guest - Alex on Saturday, 22 December 2012 11:51

They are not userfirendly... We are using WuFoo and PHPForms (this one is the same, chaper but no reporting feature) in our agency

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They are not userfirendly... We are using WuFoo and PHPForms (this one is the same, chaper but no reporting feature) in our agency
Joe Podcast on Saturday, 09 February 2013 06:10

I found Proforms Basic really simple to set up a form, However, on submission no email is sent to the email address listed in the Form. read the 1.2 manual and can not find a clue as to what else I may need to do. Does anyone have any advise?

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I found Proforms Basic really simple to set up a form, However, on submission no email is sent to the email address listed in the Form. read the 1.2 manual and can not find a clue as to what else I may need to do. Does anyone have any advise?
Robert Wilson on Saturday, 09 February 2013 07:03

Hi Joe,

Yeah we didn't find that extension as useful or easy to manage as many of the others as you can tell from the article. Have you posted a question in their forum? They may be able to answer your question quickly.

You may want to test a very basic email form with the Joomla Core contact form simply to see if your server / website setup is working properly.

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Hi Joe, Yeah we didn't find that extension as useful or easy to manage as many of the others as you can tell from the article. Have you posted a question in their forum? They may be able to answer your question quickly. You may want to test a very basic email form with the Joomla Core contact form simply to see if your server / website setup is working properly.
Paul Malafrotne on Saturday, 09 February 2013 07:45

Thanks Robert. They do not have a support forum for Basic users. This is Joomla 1.5 and the contact form works fine

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Thanks Robert. They do not have a support forum for Basic users. This is Joomla 1.5 and the contact form works fine
Robert Wilson on Thursday, 14 February 2013 05:02

Yeah that's frustrating.

Two suggestions though...upgrade your site to 2.5 if possible, and try a different form builder extension if you can. There are several great ones out there. Just realize too that your time is worth something, and if you're spending lots of it trying to figure out a free extension you'd be better off using a good paid extension with some support and getting it working quicker.

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Yeah that's frustrating. Two suggestions though...upgrade your site to 2.5 if possible, and try a different form builder extension if you can. There are several great ones out there. Just realize too that your time is worth something, and if you're spending lots of it trying to figure out a free extension you'd be better off using a good paid extension with some support and getting it working quicker.
Magic forms on Wednesday, 08 January 2014 15:17

Thanks for this man. I’ve actually been looking for a good list just like this. Thanks & rep added for sure.

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Thanks for this man. I’ve actually been looking for a good list just like this. Thanks & rep added for sure.

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