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form in email
insert a form into outlook email
MrWhippy




msg:3879170
 11:52 am on Mar 26, 2009 (gmt 0)

Hi all,

I currently have a problem trying to put a form into an email that the recipient can then fill in and send back.

I cant find anything on the web that will give me some way of doing this.

i am using outlook and would really like it to be able to work via mail merge.

 

wyweb




msg:3879345
 3:39 pm on Mar 26, 2009 (gmt 0)

Whippy you'd probably be better off asking this question in another forum...

Webmaster general [webmasterworld.com] for instance.

New to web development [webmasterworld.com] maybe?

Check the Forum Index [webmasterworld.com] for more ideas....

rocknbil




msg:3879421
 4:52 pm on Mar 26, 2009 (gmt 0)

They'll move this thread, but it's all good. I just re-visited this issue with a client.

To my knowledge, it can't be done, and here is why if someone knows better, I'm all ears!

The browser posts data to a server. A mail client, although it renders HTML, is not a browser. It can't "post" to a server. It may render the form elements, but when you try to submit it's going to go the website as if you'd clicked a hyperlink, and leave all the variables behind.

The best you can do is form a complex query string on output of the email. That is, you already have the recipient's email in hand, maybe you have the person's name and other details. So on output of the email,

<a href="http://www.example.com/landing=page.php?em=some-email@example.com&amp;fn=John&amp;ln=Doe&amp;validation_key=4534534535">GET STARTED TODAY</a>

Note the above is in CLEAR TEXT; it really should be encrypted data. Get it working, then don't forget to encrypt just because you want it off your desk.

LifeinAsia




msg:3879454
 5:14 pm on Mar 26, 2009 (gmt 0)

Well, theoretically, it seems like you should be able to put a form in an HTML e-mail. When you submit the form, your e-mail client should act like a browser and submit the form data to your web server. You could then have the web server repackage the form data and send as an e-mail. (Although most likely you'd just want to transfer the form data directly into a database.)

I did a test, and it didn't seem to work. :( However, it DID with one test where I open the message through a web interface. Another test didn't work with Hotmail, but they may have security measures in place to prevent this. I didn't try on Yahoo or Gmail.

BradleyT




msg:3879477
 5:26 pm on Mar 26, 2009 (gmt 0)

You're going to have to send them to a landing page with the form on it. I looked into this a few months back.

LifeinAsia




msg:3879562
 7:25 pm on Mar 26, 2009 (gmt 0)

Correction to my previous e-mail. I just tried opening the message using Thunderbird as a client- it submitted the form fine.

So I guess it all depends on how advanced the HTML rendering is of the e-mail client. Since that's not something you can readily control, the best bet is to provide a link to a form on a web server.

MrWhippy




msg:3879569
 7:43 pm on Mar 26, 2009 (gmt 0)

Thanks for all the responses everyone,

and sorry for posting in the wrong boards i wasnt sure which one to use and this seemed to fit the bill.

as for the replies to the question I was looking down the same route as the answers in the end as i couldnt find anyway of doing it either that would work across clients.

thanks again for the help

HugeNerd




msg:3879620
 8:56 pm on Mar 26, 2009 (gmt 0)

Could this possibly be done via a PDF? Or Excel/Acess? I know that in Excel you can set up a form and have it provide drop down menus and fill in the blanks, etc so you could have the functionality of the form, at least. Pretty much everyone should have the ability to open a spreadsheet and fill it out and return it, though you may lose some responses due to the effort required by the recipient. Might not be as clean as an HTML form in an email, but it would be easy to get it to dump the info into your db.

MrWhippy




msg:3879681
 10:12 pm on Mar 26, 2009 (gmt 0)

thats the lines i am thinking along now, put a form of some sort into an attachement its just going to be getting the recipients to actually bother to fill it in that will be the hassle then.

dr_paul




msg:3940311
 3:44 pm on Jun 25, 2009 (gmt 0)

I started another thread at [webmasterworld.com...] thanks to roknbil for pointing me here.

So, it looks like a straight HTML form is out for reasons of there being too many variations on clients.

The pdf/excel angle is interesting. Has anyone had any luck with this?

What about Google Docs? Can a google doc go inside an email? Can someone fill it in and send it back? Does it need to get attached? What is a Google Doc? I guess I should go and look.

Another method we are thinking about is simply asking people to type their response nicely, in the right space, just under the 'form' question, and then somehow take it as text and mung it into excel or whatever for analysis. Is this crazy? I'm talking there would be maybe 500-1000 emails to process like this every week.

It's probably a dumb idea!

MrWhippy




msg:3944732
 11:16 am on Jul 2, 2009 (gmt 0)

Hi dr_paul,

in the end we had no look with this at all and so went via antother route, we included the questions in the mail and asked the reader to answer them.

not as good but you still get some responses.

thanks for the link ill have a look at that soon as i get chance.

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