More PHP 8 updates

Just a heads up that a couple more bugs were spotted related to PHP 8. The following have been updated:

  • Core 3.1.1
  • Modules
    • Data Visualization 2.2.0
    • Form Builder 2.1.0
    • Submission History 2.1.0
    • System Check 2.2.0

I’ll be updating the main download page shortly.

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PHP 8 support + hello!

Well hello! It’s been a long time, Form Tools my old friend.

As the previous post notes, I stopped development on Form Tools back in 2020. Since then it’s pretty much being carrying along on its own momentum. Bugs have been spotted here and there but nothing outright calamitous…. right up to when it came to PHP 8. I was saddened to hear that the script no longer functions with the latest major PHP version.

So after a lot of thought, I’ve decided to return to the project in a limited capacity. I know there’s a lot of people out there that rely on Form Tools and expecting them to keep their server environments out of date is unrealistic. But I have a day job, a mortgage, and other interests. So again, I want to emphasize limited capacity.

Here’s what’s up.

  1. First, I’ve been updating Form Tools and all the extensions to run on PHP 8. I should get this new version out the door today or tomorrow. The new Core version will be 3.1.
  2. Secondly, I’m going to make myself available for bugs, general maintenance work and also offer my services for people who want any development work. Just email me. Time will always be a factor, but I’ll try to make time to at least prevent breakages.

Besides that:

  • The donate form is back online. Yay! Please donate! Seriously, I’ve lost so much money on maintaining the script over the years it’s horrifying. And that doesn’t  even include my time.
  • A few years back to cut back the ~$300/month hosting costs, I greatly trimmed back the functionality of the website. This was a real shame but I had no other choice. So the upgrade, custom build scripts no longer function. I did NOT, however, update the website well enough to make it clear about what was working and not. That was my mistake, I was just anxious to stop development. So I’ll be remedying that in the coming days. The upgrade page will be updated to explain the new limitations, and provide a link to a hardcoded package of all of the most recent versions, rather than provide the dynamic update functionality like before. This will at least provide users with a means to upgrade.
  • I’ll try to get the documentation search back on line. That should be doable.
  • I’m deleting the Form Tools Twitter account on the grounds that Twitter has become awful. News will be given here.

So! Hope everyone’s doing fine and 2023 is treating you well. 🙂

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Halting development

Incredibly, I started Form Tools 16 years ago, and over the years it just grew and grew… cool new modules, never-ending reams of documentation, website updates, and feature after feature after feature. But the larger it got the less feasible it became to support and maintain, let alone push forward. I’m just one guy and for many years the writing has been on the wall. If I’d been able to work on it full-time, things could be different – but I’ve always needed that day job to pay the bills. The last 6 months I’ve been revising a far smaller open source project, and even that has proven to be a massive amount of a work. It’s time to face facts: I no longer have time for this project.

So until things change – and I’m afraid I don’t forsee that happening – I’m very sad to say that the time has come to halt development on the project. Initially I’d hoped to pass on the reigns to an old friend of mine, but he too hasn’t been able to find time for the project.

Thanks so much everyone, it’s been wonderful. 🙂



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Time off from project

Hi all, I’m going to be taking a break from to focus on another project for a while. For many years now, another of my projects – – has paid the bills for all my other open source work, and an upgrade is years overdue.

I suspect it’ll be several months work, but I really must focus on that for a while.

Apologies, and see you soon…


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3.1 progress update

Howdy all!

Here’s what’s been going on recently, and where we’re heading.

Originally I had a long laundry list of changes slated for Form Tools 3.1:

  • introduce React
  • refactor the installation script
  • allow users to choose the components they want from within the installation process (rather than the hardcoded suggested list of components like now)
  • allow automatic upgrading of components from within Form Tools.

In retrospect, that was far too bold. Yet again I was falling into the “big bang” release mistake, where a single update would be very risky and take forever.

So instead, I’ve split the tasks up into pieces. Last week saw the release of 3.0.16. That refactored the installation script and introduced React into the codebase. This is an important milestone that lays the foundation for future work.

Next up is the main 3.1 release. This next change is significant enough to warrant the 3.1 version bump. It includes:

  • refactoring the Form Tools CMS to change the way the component packages are stored. Now we’ll be relying exclusively on github’s pre-packaged zipfiles for components, and copying them over to a CDN-like location on
  • Creating JSON feeds of all the various dependencies (i.e. core version X supports module version Y, Z etc.)
  • Updating the Form Tools installation script to add a new page where you can select the components you want. That will ping the JSON feeds to find out what components are suggested (the defaults) and compatible for the Core versions you’re installing, and allow you to download them directly from the CDN, live.
  • Dropping the Custom Build section of the website (yay!) since it’s no longer necessary.

What 3.1. will not include is refactoring anything with Form Tools application itself. Upgrading the Core, modules, themes and the API will all be done as before – manually (boooo).

Splitting it up like this will allow me to introduce these major changes piecemeal, which means quicker releases and more time to test out the new infrastructure. It really is a massive change and it needs to be tight.

I’m shooting for getting 3.1.0 released by the end of the year. Be sure to hold my toes to the fire if I don’t make this deadline – it should be doable.


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3.0.13 released + update about 3.1

Hey all, two things to discuss today:

3.0.13 released

This release included some really finicky, technically logic so it took a while to get it right. But no matter! Today Form Tools 3.0.13 was rolled out, which includes these nice new features:

Conflict resolution for submission editing

When editing data there’s always the risk of two people updating the same form fields at the same time. For low volume installations this is pretty unlikely, but the more users you have and the more active they are, the probability of this occurring starts to creep up and up.

To mitigate this, historically we’ve had the Submission History module: that lets you track changes to form data over time so you can revert back to any version if you need. But honestly, a better solution would be to just catch these conflicts right when they occur.

That’s what 3.0.13 adds. Now in case of a conflict, the system updates as much of the data as it can and prompts the user to reconcile the rest. Do you want to keep the data you just added for Field X, or choose the one that was in the database? Give this page a read over to get a better idea of how it works:

This is something of a “hidden” feature – you won’t ever see it until it actually becomes an issue.

Better integration for Client Map filters

Client Map filters always had the promise of being super-useful… they let you map a specific View to a particular value in a client account, so when two different clients log in and browse submissions within a particular form View, they’d see different things. Cool!  But the problem was that it was really a feature designed for External Forms where you could easily load up the initial form POST with a specific setting (like “client_id” => X) so all submissions would be mapped properly by default. But Form Builder Forms? Internal forms? Not so easy. For those, you had to do some elaborate workarounds using the Submission Pre-Parser module to pull out client info from sessions and populate the form submissions are they were created. This was very fussy and complicated.

3.0.13 greatly simplifies this. Now you can now use placeholders in the Default Values for New Submissions field on the Edit View -> main tab, so those values get automatically inserted for all new submissions in that View.

Here are a couple of links to help understand the feature:

Oh and also, I just released a new version of the Extended Client Fields module (2.1.0) so you can also use placeholders for all fields in that module in the Edit View fields as well. It works exactly the same way. You extend the client accounts to store any arbitrary data you want about a client (e.g. a “department” or “area of interest” field) then after its been populated for each user, use a placeholder for that field in your View & any submissions created by client accounts will imprint their submissions with the appropriate data from their account, thus showing up in their View. Give the tutorial a read over for more info.

So that’s 3.0.13! But there’s one other thing I wanted to talk about today…

Where’s 3.1?

Where indeed!? Back after I release 3.0, I vowed I’d never do another “big bang” release – a long, drawn out new version which took ages to complete and risked introducing a huge thwack of regression. With that in the back of my mind I launched right into 3.1 and… yeah, you guessed it, a few months passed and before I knew it I was in exactly the same boat as before.

For people who’ve been following it on Github, I’ve actually gotten a fair bit of work done on 3.1 already, but it’s still destined to become another Big Bang release. I fixed various things in that version which I’m finding I’m having to duplicate in the 3.0.x releases because it was just taking too long.

So, enough of this nonsense! Here’s what I’m going to do.

  1. The master branch on github is back to the 3.0.x branch. That is the main release branch where I work on new features.
  2. I’m going to start cherry-picking fixes/improvements I’ve made in the 3.1 branch and start introducing them into 3.0.x and incrementally add them in. So you can anticipate smaller 3.0.14, 3.0.15 etc. releases – as many as it takes.There will still be a big “3.1” release when I’m ready to flip the switch, but it won’t be a nail-biter sort of oh-god-will-this-break-everything kind of a release. The majority of the features will have been introduced in the 3.0 branch so upgrading should be less of a worry.

Alright! That’s the plan! See you on the interwebs.

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Checking in

Hey folks,

Since my last post I’ve relied heavily on twitter to announce the day-to-day goings on, but perhaps it’s time for a more formal post.

Work continues on Form Tools 3.1. This version moves the upgrading and installation code to within your Form Tools installation itself, so now when you first install the application you can choose whatever components you want, and after installation, adding or upgrading your application should be just a matter of point-and-click. No more manually FTPing files! It should be simpler for everybody.

Work has gone pretty slowly to be perfectly honest. Form Tools is a very large application and really deserves a full time team working on it. Instead you’ve got me, working in my spare time. 🙂 Still, it’s coming along. I posted a short demo of how the new installation process will work, and the upgrade process is getting closer and closer.

Most excitingly (for me) Form Tools 3.1 introduces a number of great new code/infrastructure improvements:

  • React + Redux for the new highly interactive sections of the pages
  • Proper build process using Grunt + Webpack
  • Revising bundling process for actual production files.
  • Better integration with Travis (our CI) to detect and throw build errors if anything’s amiss.
  • FINALLY adding in a slew of tasks to improve the quality and consistency of the lang files.
  • Improved CMS steps and process to export and expose specific component packages for download by your application.

Anyway, it’s coming along! Once it’s functional I think I’ll have a sizeable amount of work still to do to revise and improve all the error handling. I don’t find this a particular difficult problem to solve, but it above all it must be solid and easy to identify any problems that arise.

Well it’s a bit early, but since I won’t make another post until the new year, Merry Christmas y’all!

– Ben

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Form Tools 3 released!

Hi all,

Form Tools 3 is finally out of beta! The download page now offers the latest and greatest download package and the old Form Tools 2 code (some 4 years old!) has been removed. All the code is still found on github, but it’s time to only push the latest version.

The forums have been closed and you’ll see a “Help” navigation link in the header that replaces the old “Forums” link. Times they are a changin’!

So now what? Well, I’ve started work on Form Tools 3.1 which will greatly simplify the installation and upgrade functionality, but I’ll be continuing to maintain Form Tools 3 and the modules to patch whatever issues come up, and even add smaller features here and there.

As always I’ll continue to update everyone of my progress via Twitter and make large announcements here in the main blog.



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Form Tools 3 final release

Hi all,

Quick announcement. Sometime around April 15th I’ll be making Form Tools 3 the standard build, and dropping Form Tools 2 from the download page. The code will always be available at its home on github, but it’s time for all new installations to use the newer code. (Form Tools 2 is ooooold now!)

As mentioned in earlier posts, I’ll be closing the Form Tools forums will also be closing. All questions and support for the Form Tools script and modules will be moved to the appropriate location here: When the forums are offline I’m going to sit down for a day (or two) and clean out the spam posts and update the site to remove it from the main header & put a link in the footer of the site. For the foreseeable future, people can always browse the old forums for information – there’s a lot of good information there – but in the coming months as Form Tools changes, the information will get out of date & be less useful.

Oh – and I’m heading out of town on a brief holiday for the first 2 weeks of April. See you when I get back.


Posted in Alpha / Beta Versions, Important!, Maintenance, New Releases | 1 Comment

Upgrade script online

After a long vacation, the upgrade script is back online. Yeah! Now when you click on Update from within your Form Tools interface, you’ll be directed to the Form Tools site where you can generate a zipfile containing whatever specific components you want upgraded.

Even though Form Tools 3 is still in Beta it’s looking pretty robust. But if you do choose to upgrade to v3, please follow the upgrade instructions and back up your files and database first. It’s a pain, but worth it.

For the next little while I’m going to be working on reviewing the entire documentation (starting with the outdated Module Development section), working on any bugs that get reported with the Beta, and patching lower priority issues that have been reported on the site.

I’ll be making Form Tools 3 the standard build whenever I feel comfortable the rate of bugs is minimal. So more feedback the better!

Getting Help / Questions

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