Joomla is great, almost everything you want to have on your website already exists. There are 1000's of extensions existing and sometimes the biggest problem is just to find right one. Today I've been once more struggling to find the best suited extension to create a form on a new website and of course, damn you Murphy, it was the last one I've tried that was the one I was looking for. So I thought: "hey, let's put this on my site, so other's don't have to spent the same effort I did". So here's is my idea on The Best Extension To Create Forms For Joomla 1.5
First thing everybody that is looking for extensions should do, is of course go to the official joomla extension directory. So did I and I was releaved: only 18 extenions in the forms category is not that much. One thing you should know is that I did not try the commercial extensions. Joomla is Open Source and in my opinion, the extensions should be free also. That's why I'll never ask any money for the extensions I've created on Ulti Joomla. In my experience, the non-commercial extensions are often as good or sometimes even better then the commercial ones. RSform!, Smartformer and Phil-A-Form are such commercial extensions. They might be good or not, and I really don't even care. Second thing to know is that I'm not a patient guy: if it doesn't work from the start or if it's to difficult to create a form, then I just press 'uninstall'.
All I needed was a form on my site to be filled in by the users and then emailed to me. After skipping the extensions that weren't really what I was looking for, this left me with 4 extensions to try: CK forms, ChronoForms, FacileForms and ArtForms.
I started with CK forms, because it's the only one that has 1.5 native compatibility only. This means it was designed for joomla 1.5 from the start, so I thought this one might be just what I need. Apart from some language file errors, the installation went smooth. So I started to create a form. Nice simple interface, but then I ran into the first problem: I wanted to insert a field but nothing happened when I clicked the button 'fields'. It seems my backend was blocked, because any button I tried had the same effect: nothing happened. I was just about to throw it away, when I tried to fill in the description field and hey, it started working again. I could add some fields now. Will, at least I thought I did. I've tried adding a simple text field, but all I've got was an error when I saved it. Probably I did something wrong again, but I told you already: patience is not my best quality, so I decided it was time to try another one. CK forms installs smoothly, looks promising, but clearly isn't ready to compete with the other extensions.
ChronoForms was the next one to test. Again smooth installation, so I went on to create a form. The options you have with Chrono form are a bit overwhelming and it's not always clear what their use is. I soon had my first form, but where did I have to insert fields? I tried about everything, but I couldn't find it. Because the first part went quit good, I went to their site to look for some more information. A nice video tutorial explained to me that I had to use a different tool to create the form and then copy the HTML code to the extensions. So probably this is a good extension, but it's not what I was looking for.
FacileForms is the most downloaded extension, so it can't be bad. No joomla 1.5 compatibility (yet?) however, but I tried it in legacy mode anyhow. No problems yet during installation, but I didn't get any further then that. When I went to the component, everything went blank. Nice try, but this one clearly isn't compatible with joomla 1.5. If you're still using joomla 1.0.x, then make sure to try this one.
One more personal note on this however. I know I should update the php version on my server, but I do have a good reason not to do this: there are client websites on this server which are runnings for years without problems and which are not compatible with php5. This means upgrading will be a major operation. This is planned somewhere in the future, but I'm not there yet. And the bad news for extensions like BreezingForms who are not compatible with php4 any more is that more then 60% of the servers in the world are still on php4.
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