Week 1: Form of an Awesome Personal Media Catalog

I spent the morning playing with Gravity Forms to figure out how to create a form to start cataloging my personal media collection. I can now understand why folks get addicted to creating forms for everything, once you can a handle on a few basics. Soon I’ll be thinking I can actually “program,” a scary place for me to be in the borderlands of nonprogramistan.

Image of nonprogramistan propaganda poster

The form I am playing with will provide a simple way for me to catalog my media collection, which consist of movies of various formats, books, comics, and some toys. Not sure toys are media, but I am going to “play” with that category a bit. I started the process my using a standard text field for both Title and year media was created. I then added a standard drop-down for media types, and added a whole bunch, with the idea that depending on what media your selected (book, VHS, CD, etc.) the fields you would see would change.

Drop-down of Media types that provide the basis of conditional logic choices for this form

This would allow me to immediately hit one of this week’s goals: conditional logic. What I did not understand right away was that conditional logic does not apply to the Media type as much as the fields I would create after, such as running time, region, film genre, etc. It is on those fields that I would need to specify the Conditional logic as any of the media formats that are film related.

Image of Gravity forms conditional logic selector

Setting conditional logic for Running time to be only related to film formats

So now when i go to the form and choose a format that is related to film, the conditional logic kicks in and I can see relevant fields like running time, film genre, and region:

Gravity forms media preview

Gravity Forms Preview

Whereas if the Media Type is book none of these fields will show:

If no film format is selected, all relevant film fields are hidden, that’s conditional logic!

So, I have a few goals accomplished here, figuring out conditional logic, ordering the form using simple drag and drop to have fields side-by-side, and finally using a CSS Class Name, gf_red_alert,  to change the color of the required asterisk for the entire form:

Image of Gravity forms screenshot for CSS Class Name

Changing CSS Class Name for asterisk to make it red

The next step would be to play with pagination for this form to break it up and make it manageable. But I didn’t have enough on the form yet and was still trying to think through a good way to make logical section, so that will be something I include as I keep building.

The last challenge for this week was to play with confirmations and notifications, but given this is a form I will only use (unless I truly do force my kids down the data entry path) I figured notifications might not be all that useful. Though I may be overlooking something here. But I was able to manage a silly confirmation message that will be a constant a reminder that my physical media addition is not healthy. Changing this is as easy as clicking on the Confirmations option for the selected form and changing the default text to something you like, and it can even have links, images, etc.

And with that I do feel like I have some of the basics for Gravity Forms under my belt and I’m ready for Week 2 of the Form of Awesome Flex Course to start fine-tuning the process. I am wondering if I can streamline any of the form fields that might be automatically filled based on fields already filled out. Not entirely sure given my form is sparse yet, but I like how this process starts to force you to think in a bit more structured way, which is not something I am used to.

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5 Responses to Week 1: Form of an Awesome Personal Media Catalog

  1. Tom says:

    Exactly! I find the form-creation process helps me understand what I need in terms of data and forces (at least some degree of) logic and order. That’s one reason I love it for student submissions. You can guide people through a pattern of thought that can become internalized.

    The way I think of conditional logic is that it impacts the field I turn it on for based on any previous field. It’s always reflective that way. The choice has to exist previously in order to control the field you’re working on.

    Pagination may or may not be necessary for this one, especially if you use a lot of conditional logic and you are the only user. I just want people to keep thinking – what’s the best experience I can give people filling out this form?

    Now that you have your data roughed out, we can look at what things make sense for categories, tags, or other taxonomies. I tend towards overkill here because . . . why not have more options for sorting/finding down the road? And taxonomies have the extra advantage that if you change your mind down the road, the changes are applied globally and easily through normal WordPress actions.

    • Reverend says:

      It’s funny cause for the most part Martha and Tim really pushed on Gravity Forms and I benefited, but having a play for real this morning and making it work in some simple, but as I abstract powerful, ways has been just want I wanted and needed from this experience, and it is invaluable professional development for us internally at Reclaim, I cant thank you enough for that!

  2. Alan Levine says:

    Each deeper step you go with Gravity Forms the more gems it unlocks. The real score is how it is completely built into WordPress, that’s where your responses/data sit rather than other form solutions to just send you email.

    And wait, any person who does all this command line docker mumbo jumbo is several large steps unto Programmistan.

    In the old days of FeedWordPressing (a blog post overdue) I extended the basic DS106 one a bit for NetNarr, to use conditional logic, and then to write the data into FWP

    For feedback, I would make the Region thing a radio button, it is either or, and I might make genre a drop down. No real difference in the end.

    And for the time length of a film, there might be some kind of time field entry rather than free text, or some way to format. I think to be really detailed, stored as data you would want a time value like seconds (this way you could sort movies based on length, or filter ones longer than 3 hours) and use some formatting to display as human readable time. Its best to store data as data, not just strings.

    I always loved the notifications and the feedback options for Gravity forms. For the user, it helps to have some confirmation of what was entered, beyond “thanks Hippie” – you can do really good feedback by using all the form variables.

    And when you get into forms for work groups, there are nifty things you can do for notifications based on conditional logic.

    This looks like damn fun! Tom is El Presidente of Programmistan, the People Hath Spoken

    • Reverend says:

      Funny how this course has opened up all the work you, Tim, Tom, and Martha have been doing over the years. It’s something I kinda blew off in favor of just trumpeting Reclaim or ds106 or some other thing like video game cabinets, but taking some time and locking in a bit has been pretty fun and food for the bava soul. I will re-visit time in seconds I think, so that is a good call, just like region as a radio box, and genres as drop-down. I am just getting into advanced post creation after yesterday’s session, and that has been pretty eye-opening. Funny how once you get or or two concepts under your belt you become relatively dangerous, week 2 progress post coming soon, see you there 🙂

  3. Pingback: Form of an Awesome VHS Catalog Entry for The Shining | bavatuesdays

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