When you create electronic forms with SpreadsheetConverter, there are a few special features that we describe in this document.

You can build web forms that automatically get sent to your e-mail Inbox every time someone uses the form. For a small monthly fee, you can also have each submitted form stored in a hosted database for later retrieval. Read more about our Free and Advanced Submit Services.

Use Required fields

You don’t want to receive forms where vital information is missing. Most widgets have a Required option. If you select this option for the widget, it will not be possible to submit the form without providing information in the field.

Validate as much as you can before submit

You don’t want to receive forms where the information is incorrect. SpreadsheetConverter supports most of Excel’s Data Validation features. Use these to validate as much as you can of every field in the form. This makes it impossible to submit the form if it has any known error.

  • Verify that each field has the right kind of content, like an integer, a date or a correct e-mail address.
  • Ensure that each field has a value within the expected range, e.g. 1-5.
  • Require text fields to be of a certain length.
  • Provide only a fixed set of options for a field.
  • Use an Excel formula to validate the contents of a field.

Use locked or hidden fields

You normally don’t need to lock cells that you don’t want your users to change. By default, the cells in your spreadsheet do not become open for user input when the spreadsheet is converted into a web form. There are three different ways to unlock a cell for input. If you don’t use either of them, users will see the cell contents but will be unable to change them. Read more about designating input cells.

To completely hide a cell’s contents from the user, place a Text or Utility widget in the cell and tick its Make hidden field check-box.

Screenshot of the Make Hidden Field option for the Text and Calculated Cell widgets

Use named cells as input fields

You should always assign names to your input fields, i.e. the cells that you will open for input from the user. This makes it much easier to decode the electronic form later. With the Advanced Submit Server, the cell name is used as the field name when you browse through the submitted forms in the Advanced Server, and as the column name when you download them.

You assign a name to a cell using Excel’s naming mechanism or by using the Name field of any widget.

Screenshot of the name cell field for widgets

Send the form to the Form Recipient

When you create a web form, you must decide what should happen when the submitter presses the Submit button in the form. If you use our Free or Advanced Submit Service, the form’s contents are sent in an e-mail to a predefined e-mail address that we call the Form Recipient. You set this address in the form’s Submit options.

Screenshot of the e-mail address and service type in Configure Submit

Note that you cannot change the From address for the e-mails containing form submissions. All these e-mails are sent from our servers and the e-mail infrastructure does not appreciate that we send e-mail pretending to be from someone else.

Send a copy of the form to the Form Submitter

We can also automatically send an additional copy of the form to the person that submitted it. We call this the Form Submitter e-mail address – but you can actually use any valid e-mail address for this second copy of the submitted form.

To activate this feature, give a cell in the spreadsheet the reserved name email (without the hyphen) and provide a second e-mail address there.

Screenshot of a form with an email field

If you wish to assign a particular subject to this message, give a cell in the spreadsheet the reserved name subject and provide a text for the e-mail Subject there.

Screenshot of the subject field in a form

If you are uncomfortable using the shorthand notation with the named cells, you can activate the same feature using the Configure Submit settings on the Workbook tab.

The e-mail address and the optional subject for this e-mail can be provided in several ways:

  • Before you convert the spreadsheet to a web page, type a static e-mail address and subject into the cells named email and subject in the spreadsheet.
  • Provide the e-mail and subject directly from the form’s contents in cells with the reserved names email and subject.
    • You can concatenate values from more than one form field using Excel’s & string operator like in the example above.
    • You can use advanced conditions in Excel IF clauses.
    • You can use a formula like VLOOKUP to dynamically assign text depending on other values in the form.
  • If you are comfortable handling URL query strings and know the technical requirements for doing this, the email and subject cells can be set from the form’s URL like any other named cell. This allows you to set these values directly in the link to the form sent to the submitter, or from a script. Example:

In some of these situations, you may want to hide or lock the cells (see above) so that the Submitter doesn’t see or change them.

Note that you cannot change the From address for the e-mails containing form submissions. All these e-mails are sent from our servers and the e-mail infrastructure does not appreciate that we send e-mail pretending to be from someone else.

Sending e-mails between Form Submitter and Form Recipient

When a form contains an email field, it becomes easy for the person that submitted the form to communicate with the recipient, and vice versa.

  • If the Form Recipient replies to the received form, the reply is sent to the Form Submitter e-mail address. This makes it easy for the recipient to follow-up on form submissions and ask additional questions.
  • If the Form Submitter replies to the e-mail with the submitted form, this response is sent to the Form Recipient. This makes it easy for the submitter to provide additional information.

For faster submits, use the index-quick.htm file

If you use the Advanced submit service, we recommend that you use the “light” index-quick.htm file for all submissions of the form except the first. The index-quick.htm file is often much smaller than the full web form which can save time when users download and submit the form. If your users need to submit the form while they’re offline, you may even be forced to use this leaner version of the form to pass the size requirements.

Before you enable the index-quick.htm page, ensure that you have submitted the “full” form at least once, to allow it to be saved on the forms processing server. Whenever you make changes to the appearance of a form you must submit the full form at least once again, to update the copy in the server.

Translate the texts

You can translate or edit the messages that are issued during form submissions, e.g. “The form was successfully submitted.” Read more in the help for Submit.

How do I design a spreadsheet to look good as a web page ?

Read our comprehensive design guide to learn how to design web calculators for a global, mobile audience:

  • A large part of your users will be using their phones to use the web page.
    • Put the caption on top of each field, not to the left of it.
    • Arrange the sections of the calculator or form below each other, or on different tabs.
    • For wider examples, you must use responsive design to make the example fit also narrow screens.
    • As a desktop user, you may love to analyze data in wide tables with countless columns. This doesn’t work well on phones. You have many options.
    • Always test all your calculators with your own phone.
  • Assume your calculator or form will be used by an international audience.
    • Your calculator may need to handle both metric and US customary units.
    • Learn more about the differences in the formatting of date, time and numbers.
  • Use only colors that are as far away from each other as possible, using colors that are unambiguous also to colorblind persons.

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