Nanyang Technological University

SurveyMail Advanced

The guide is extracted and modified from the readme file for formmail.pl. and BFormMail.pl

NOTE: The sample syntax should be viewed as it is on screen if you want to copy it. Just do not copy from the source code of this html file. The best way of really understanding how the fields work is to try them out.


Any other form fields that appear in your script will be mailed back to you and displayed on the resulting page if you do not have the redirect field set. There is no limit as to how many other form fields you can use with this form, except the limits imposed by browsers and your server.

  • All the fields with special meanings attached must be written in lowercase.
  • A valid field name may be a phrase instead of just a word. E.g. Course Code is a valid field name. You need not write it as CourseCode.
  • All field names are case-sensitive. E.g. Course is treated as a different field from course.

 

Overview
SurveyMail is based on Formmail, a universal WWW form to E-mail gateway. There is five required form input tags which must be specified in order for this script to work with your existing forms. Other hidden configuration fields can also be used to enhance the operation of SurveyMail on your site.
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Form Configuration
The action of your form needs to point towards this script (obviously), and the method must be POST or GET in capital letters. Below is a list of form fields you can use and how to implement them.

Note that ALL special fields listed below MUST be written in lowercase, or they will be treated as an ordindary user defined field.

In NTU, to call the SurveyMail program, you type this in your FORM statement, just before you begin your codes for the input fields:

<FORM METHOD="post" ACTION="http://www.ntu.edu.sg/cgi-bin/surveymail.pl">
Remember to end off with the </FORM> tag after your SUBMIT button field.
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Some of the possible uses of this script

  1. You want to have a form that will be mailed to you, and the result automatically stored in a database file but aren't sure how to write the CGI script for it.
  2. You are the webmaster of your site and want to allow users to use forms, but not to have their own cgi-bin directories, which can cause security risks to your system. You can set this script up and then allow all users to run off of it.
  3. This program is great for surveys, especially those that you expect to have a lot of responses. If properly planned, you can even have your database program extract postal addresses filled in by your respondents. These nicely stored addresses can then be used in mail merge programs for address label printing. Email addresses can similarly be extracted into a mailing list. It can really save you a lot of data entry work!
  4. You can also use it as simple application forms whereby you can import the database text file into your database program.

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Necessary Form Fields
There form fields must be there in your form, for SurveyMail to work correctly.

Field:recipient
Description:This form field allows you to specify to whom you wish for your form results to be mailed. Most likely you will want to configure this option as a hidden form field with a value equal to that of your e-mail address. It has to be a NTU email address ending with @ntu.edu.sg
Syntax:<input type=hidden name="recipient" value="email@ntu.edu.sg">

You may have more than one recipient in your form. Just add the additional email addresses one after another and separate them with a comma. Do not place spaces between the addresses. An example of a valid syntax for two recipients is
<input type=hidden name="recipient" value="firstperson@ntu.edu.sg,secondperson@ntu.edu.sg">

Substitute firstperson@ntu.edu.sg and secondperson@ntu.edu.sg with the email addresses of the recipients you intend to send the email to.

The recipient field need not always be hidden. Sometimes you may want the form to be emailed to different persons depending on the area of query the user is looking for. Example,

Which area of help do you need from us?
area A area B

The syntax for such a functionality would be:

<input type=radio name="recipient" value="personA@ntu.edu.sg">
<input type=radio name="recipient" value="personB@ntu.edu.sg">

Of course, you can also add additional person's email address for the recipient field's value if there should be more than one person who needs to receive the results of the submission form.
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Field:drive
Description:Different groups of user accounts map to different drives on the server. The drive field maps to the actual drive location on the server. Refer to the table on the main guide for the latest mapping for your Web account space.
Syntax:<input type=hidden name="drive" value="5">

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Field:append_db
Description:If you wish to append the form fields to a flat file database, just specify the filename as the vale of this field. The value should specify the path and file to hold the data.
Syntax:<input type=hidden name="append_db" value="yourname/directory/data.txt">

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Field:db_delimiter
Description:The separator character between fields in the database. Avoid using common characters like @ or any character that can appear in the value of other fields.
Syntax:<input type=hidden name="db_delimiter" value="|">

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Field:db_fields
Description:Specify exactly which fields are appended to the database. Any field not specified in db_fields will not be appended to the database.
Syntax:<input type=hidden name="db_fields" value="realname,email,homephone">

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Optional Form Fields

Field:subject
Description:The subject field will allow you to specify the subject that you wish to appear in the e-mail that is sent to you after this form has been filled out. If you do not have this option turned on, then the script will default to a message subject: WWW Form Submission
Syntax:

If you wish to choose what the subject is:
<input type=hidden name="subject" value="Your Subject">

To allow the user to choose a subject:
<input type=text name="subject">

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Field:email
Description:This form field will allow the user to specify their return e-mail address. If you want to be able to return e-mail to your user, I strongly suggest that you include this form field and allow them to fill it in. This will be put into the From: field of the message you receive. If you want to require an email address with valid syntax, add this field name to the 'required' field.
Syntax:<input type=text name="email">

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Field:realname
Description:The realname form field will allow the user to input their real name. This field is useful for identification purposes and will also be put into the From: line of your message header.
Syntax:<input type=text name="realname">

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Field:redirect
Description:If you wish to redirect the user to a different URL, rather than having them see the default response to the fill-out form, you can use this hidden variable to send them to a pre-made HTML page.
Syntax:

To choose the URL they will end up at:
<input type=hidden name="redirect" value="http://your.host.com/to/file.html">

To allow them to specify a URL they wish to travel to once the form is filled out:
<input type=text name="redirect">

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Field:required
Version:1.3 & Up
Description:

You can now require for certain fields in your form to be filled in before the user can successfully submit the form. Simply place all field names that you want to be mandatory into this field. If the required fields are not filled in, the user will be notified of what they need to fill in, and a link back to the form they just submitted will be provided.

To use a customized error page, see 'missing_fields_redirect'

Syntax:

For example, if you want to require that they fill in the email and phone fields in your form, so that you can reach them once you have received the mail, use a syntax like:

<input type=hidden name="required" value="email,phone">

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Field:specialmsg
Enhancement:This is a special enhancement to the version of Formmail on NTU's server.
Description:

For cases when you want to use the formmail program to email an automated confirmation to the user, you may want to give special instructions to the user on what they should do when they receive your email. You can add this special message into your submission form and it will be printed before everything else in the email message.

The text for specialmsg should not have any special HTML format tags or paragraph breaks.

An example of this in action is the Centre for IT Services' online form for Counter Changes.

Syntax:<input type=hidden name="specialmsg" value="When you receive this email, you should do this, this, and blah, blah, blah...">

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Field:env_report
Version:1.3 & Up
Description:

Allows you to have Environment variables included in the e-mail message you receive after a user has filled out your form. Useful if you wish to know what browser they were using, what domain they were coming from or any other attributes associated with environment variables. The following is a short list of valid environment variables that might be useful:

 

REMOTE_HOSTSends the hostname making a request.
REMOTE_ADDRSends the IP address of the remote host making the request.
REMOTE_USERIf server supports authentication and script is protected, this is the username they have authenticated as. *This is not usually set.*
HTTP_USER_AGENTThe browser the client is using to send the request.
There are others, but these are a few of the most useful. For more information on environment variables, see other references on the list of CGI variables available.
Syntax:

For example if you wanted to find the remote host and browser sending the request, you would put the following into your form:

<input type=hidden name="env_report" value="REMOTE_HOST, HTTP_USER_AGENT">

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Field:print_config
Version:1.5 & Up
Description:print_config allows you to specify which of the config variables you would like to have printed in your e-mail message. By default, no config fields are printed to your e-mail. This is because the important form fields, like email, subject, etc. are included in the header of the message. However some users have asked for this option so they can have these fields printed in the body of the message. The config fields that you wish to have printed should be in the value attribute of your input tag separated by commas.
Syntax:If you want to print the email and subject fields in the body of your message, you would place the following form tag:
<input type=hidden name="print_config" value="email,subject">

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Field:print_blank_fields
Version:1.6
Description:print_blank_fields allows you to request that all form fields are printed in the return HTML, regardless of whether or not they were filled in. FormMail defaults to turning this off, so that unused form fields aren't e-mailed.
Syntax:If you want to print all blank fields:
<input type=hidden name="print_blank_fields" value="1">

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Field:title
Version:1.3 & Up
Description:This form field allows you to specify the title and header that will appear on the resulting page if you do not specify a redirect URL.
Syntax:If you wanted a title of 'Feedback Form Results':
<input type=hidden name="title" value="Feedback Form Results">

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Field:return_link_url
Version:1.3 & Up
Description:This field allows you to specify a URL that will appear, as return_link_title, on the following report page. This field will not be used if you have the redirect field set, but it is useful if you allow the user to receive the report on the following page, but want to offer them a way to get back to your main page.
Syntax:<input type=hidden name="return_link_url" value="http://your.host.com/main.html">

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Field:return_link_title
Version:1.3 & Up
Description:

This is the title that will be used to link the user back to the page you specify with return_link_url. The two fields will be shown on the resulting form page as:

  • return_link_title
Syntax:<input type=hidden name="return_link_title" value="Back to Main Page">

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Field:missing_fields_redirect
Version:1.6
Description:This form field allows you to specify a URL that users will be redirected to if there are fields listed in the required form field that are not filled in. This is so you can customize an error page instead of displaying the default.
Syntax:<input type=hidden name="missing_fields_redirect" value="http://your.host.com/error.html">

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Field:background
Version:1.3 & Up
Description:This form field allow you to specify a background image that will appear if you do not have the redirect field set. This image will appear as the background to the form results page.
Syntax:<input type=hidden name="background" value="http://your.host.com/image.gif">

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Field:bgcolor
Version:1.3 & Up
Description:This form field allow you to specify a bgcolor for the form results page in much the way you specify a background image. This field should not be set if the redirect field is.
Syntax:For a background color of White:
<input type=hidden name="bgcolor" value="#FFFFFF">

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Field:text_color
Version:1.3 & Up
Description:This field works in the same way as bgcolor, except that it will change the color of your text.
Syntax:For a text color of Black:
<input type=hidden name="text_color" value="#000000">

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Field:link_color
Version:1.3 & Up
Description:Changes the color of links on the resulting page. Works in the same way as text_color. Should not be defined if redirect is.
Syntax:For a link color of Red:
<input type=hidden name="link_color" value="#FF0000">

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Field:vlink_color
Version:1.3 & Up
Description:Changes the color of visited links on the resulting page. Works exactly the same as link_color. Should not be set if redirect is.
Syntax:For a visited link color of Blue:
<input type=hidden name="vlink_color" value="#0000FF">

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Field:alink_color
Version:1.4 & Up
Description:Changes the color of active links on the resulting page. Works exactly the same as link_color. Should not be set if redirect is.
Syntax:For a visited link color of Blue:
<input type=hidden name="alink_color" value="#0000FF">

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