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Email Forms - a Tough Task for Wannabe Programmers

Aug 26, 2007
Adding a simple email form or contact form to a website can often be a tough task for a first-time programmer or small business website. A lot of people who start a website or a small internet business use simple templates to put a website online while having little or almost no knowledge of HTML programming.

Creating a functional email form or contact form, as simple as the form itself may be, is almost impossible for an inexperienced programmer that doesn't have more advanced knowledge of PHP and HTML programming. Many beginning programmers or small business websites simply include a clickable link using a "mailto" tag that pulls up the user's email client software so that the user can simply send a regular email to the webmaster.

So, what does a programmer have to do to install an email form on their website? First, the form itself must be created using HTML. That's the easy part. After that, the programmer must create a very complicated and lengthy PHP file to process the form and email the answers to the form back to the website owner. The name of the file that is most commonly used to process email forms is "Formmail." Formmail has been used to process and email the results of web forms for over nine years. Since 1997, it has been downloaded more than two million times.

In creating this PHP file (often referred to as "formmail.php"), the programmer should include code that blocks spammers from using the email form to send spam through the form. Many times, inexperienced programmers will put a form on their website that does not include code to prevent spammers from utilizing the form to send spam to hundreds or even thousands of people. As a result, the owners of these websites often have to endure an unfortunate consequence - the web hosting company cancels their account once those who've been spammed complain to their internet service provider, who then directs the complaint to the hosting company that handles your website. This can be a huge problem.

All of this can be very complicated for a first-time programmer, but there are now many companies around the internet that have sprung up to help programmers add an email form or other more complicated HTML form to their website. These companies usually provide the HTML code for the form, which the programmer must insert into his/her webpage, but the PHP code that processes the form remains on the server of the company that provides the HTML code and the form is thus processed remotely. Simply input the words "email form" into any major search engine and you will be able to locate a plethora of resources and companies that make email forms easy. The most popular website that provides this service is freedback.com, which receives as many as 300,000 hits per day, but there are many other reliable services out there that provide this service, but usually for a monthly fee if the form is going to be used frequently. However, there are many online tutorials available that teach programmers how to build a form from scratch and install the script to process it.
About the Author
Jim Pretin is the proprietor of a network of websites which includes http://www.forms4free.com, a service that provides all the code necessary for an inexperienced programmer to add a simple email form to their website in only 2 minutes
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