Building customisable forms - BETA

Beta access

The Forms functionality explained in this support article is available to all customers as a beta access feature. We will continue to add further Forms features in the coming months, including:
  • Conditional questions - form field responses will be able to determine the visibility of subsequent questions eg respondents answering Yes or No will surface a different follow-on question

14th September 2021

In this article

Introduction and overview of intended functionality
Adding a form
Building a form
Smart links
Embedding a form in a website

Introduction and overview of intended functionality

Forms enable you to collect data for a wide range of purposes. Whether you're creating a questionnaire to gauge interest in volunteering, creating a Gift Aid form or requesting parental consent for a youth group trip, forms provide all the tools you need.

Forms can be created within the Address Book and Children modules and data is collected via a form page which can be shared with potential respondents via a URL link. Invitations can also be emailed to contacts and children within ChurchSuite, enabling them to access a form which has been pre-filled with existing data such as their name and contact details. Form overseers are notified as forms are submitted and responses can be viewed within ChurchSuite or downloaded to a CSV or PDF file.

Several Example Forms are available to help you get started.

Adding a form

To add a form, select the Forms tab in the Address Book or Children modules…

…and then select Add form.

On the Add form pop up, complete all of the details as appropriate.

Start Date/Time refers to the date/time after which responses can be submitted and End Date/Time is the date/time after which responses cannot be submitted. If a Brand is specified, it will be used on the form page and invitation emails.

Visible to specifies the user groups or user the form is visible to within ChurchSuite whilst Visible in specifies the module(s) the form is visible in.

Top Tip!

It's possible for forms to collect data from multiple modules. This means that it's possible for a user who only has Address Book permissions to see fields from the Children module if a form is visible in both the Address Book and Children modules. It is the responsibility of the ChurchSuite user who creates a form to set the Visible to and Visible in controls appropriately to ensure that data is appropriately protected.

Access determines how a respondent accesses a form and one of the following options must be selected:

  1. Public - the form has a public URL as well as the ability to send invitations to people, asking them to follow a link to complete the form.
  2. Private - the form can only be completed by people who have received an invitation.
  3. Anonymous - the form can only be completed by people who have received an invitation. In order to maintain anonymity, in ChurchSuite the responses will not show against the invitee.

If Smart links are used (as described later), it's possible for forms to be pre-filled with selected data before completion by the respondent if Send Invite is used.

Site (required) - this determines the sites in which the form will be visible.

After completing the relevant fields, click Save.

A form can also be added by selecting Duplicate from a form's view page...

...or from the Action menu.

This will open a Duplicate form pop up, pre-populated with the original form's options which can be edited as required.

After clicking Save on an Add form or Duplicate form pop up, you will be taken to the form’s "View" page which summarises all the information which has been entered. A form is always created in Draft status and cannot receive responses until it has been published by selecting Publish.

Once a form has been published, it can be set back to Draft status if you need to edit the content of the form, as the content of a Published form cannot be edited.

The "View" page includes the ability to customise an optional Success message which is shown on the screen after a form has been submitted. You can also customise the Confirmation email which is sent to a respondent after they have submitted a form or edited it subsequently. The confirmation email is logged in a person's Communication log on their contact or child record when Send Invite has been used.

When editing a Confirmation email you can select whether or not to include the respondent's submitted data in the email. For example, if a form response might include sensitive information, you could leave the checkbox blank so that the confirmation email in a contact's Communication Log doesn't include this data. The checkbox is blank by default.

On a form's "View page", Include response indicates whether or not the Confirmation email will include submitted response data. When shown in green, response data will be included. When shown in grey strikethrough, response data will not be included in the Confirmation email.

Form Overseers can be added on a form's "View" page.

Overseers receive an email notification when a form is submitted for the first time. They do not receive notifications if a form is subsequently edited by the respondent. The notification email which is sent to overseers does not include any content from the response, it merely informs them that a new response has been submitted.

A form’s “View” page also has four tabs - Setup, Invites, Actions and Responses.

  • Setup enables you to build a form with a variety of components. This can only be done when a form is in draft.
  • Invites shows the contacts and children who have been invited to complete the form and the status of their response.
  • Actions enables you to specify actions which can run automatically when a form is submitted in response to an invitation or run manually by a user. Actions include adding respondents to a Flow, Ministry or Small Group; sending them a Preset Email or SMS; assigning them a Key Date or Note; and Archiving or Deleting them.
  • Responses details the responses given by each individual, along with a Download csv option.

The order of these tabs varies depending on the status of the form. A form which is in Draft will show Setup followed by Invites, Actions and Responses. When a form is Published, the Responses tab shows first, followed by Invites, Setup and Actions. For a published form, the Setup tab shows a read-only view of the form as fields can only be added, edited or deleted when a form is in draft.

Once created, forms are listed in a summary table which gives an overview of the form's settings, including an icon showing Access.

An Action menu offers quick links to View, Duplicate, Edit and Delete the form.

A filter enables you to search for Past, Active, Active & Future and Future forms, with Active & Future as the default.

A Search box allows you to search for forms by name...

...and an Advanced search option includes filters for Access (Public/Private/Anonymous) and Status (Draft/Published).

To edit a form's settings, select Edit from the Action menu...

...or Edit on a form’s “View” page.

This opens a pop up which enables you to edit the form's settings.

When editing a form, all field values can be changed, with the following caveats:

  • An Anonymous form which has responses cannot be made Public or Private. This is to protect the anonymity of the invitees who have completed the form.
  • If a user changes the Visible in value and de-selects the module in which they are currently working, they will be sent to the Forms page and a permissions error will be shown. For example, if a user is in the Address Book and edits a form so that it’s no longer visible in the Address Book, an error message will alert them that they need to go to another module to view the form.

Building a form

To build a form, first ensure that your form is in Draft as it is not possible to add, edit or delete fields when a form is published. A form can be set to Draft status from the More dropdown...

...or by clicking Set as draft from the Setup tab.

Selecting the Setup tab displays a list of the items which can be included in a form. There is also a search field for finding a specific item.

The following items are available for forms:

  • Standard fields
  • Elements - These create sections within the form using Divider, Heading and Text. Text is an HTML field and enables you to include images and videos. Data Protection enables you to add a checkbox which must be ticked before a form can be submitted.

  • Person fields - Any fields present for both Address Book contacts and children
  • Contact fields - Any fields present for Address Book contacts but not for children. Only visible in the Address Book module.
  • Contact custom fields - All custom fields present in the Address Book module options. Only visible in the Address Book module.
  • Child fields - Any fields present for children but not for Address Book contacts. Only visible in the Children module.
  • Child custom fields - All custom fields present in the Children module options. Only visible in the Children module.

These can be collapsed to hide unnecessary fields or expanded to show all. By default, Standard fields and Elements will be expanded and the others will be collapsed.

When adding Email fields, the Send confirmation checkbox allows you to choose whether or not the submitted email address will receive a Confirmation email. For example, if a parent is completing a form about their child, you may want a confirmation email to only go to the parent. However, if the form is about a youth group trip, you may want the confirmation email to go to both the parent and their teenager.

Signature Fields

Signature fields show on a form as a white box in which a respondent can either use their finger or mouse to provide an interpretation of their signature.

This creates an image which is shown to the respondent on submission, shows in the Responses tab on the form's "View" page and is included in the confirmation email if Include response is ticked in the confirmation email compose window. The signature is shown when using Download PDF but it cannot be shown when using Download CSV.

All Person, Contact and Child fields are actually Standard fields with the inclusion of a Smart link. At any time, a Person field could be added to the form and then downgraded to a Standard field. Conversely, a Standard field could be added and upgraded with a Smart link.

Form fields without Smart links create isolated data which can only be used within the form context and have no direct link to any ChurchSuite data for the respondent. Smart links elevate a Standard field. When used, they pre-fill data in forms sent using Send invite and populate data when creating a new contact using Add contact.

Smart links are made when adding or editing an item. If a Standard field is added to a form, the Smart link field will initially be empty...

...but the item can be smart linked to an associated field within ChurchSuite.

If a Person, Contact, Child or Contact/Child custom field is added to a form, a Smart link will automatically show and the Name of the field will be pre-filled.

However, you can choose a different Smart link by ticking another option or you can remove the Smart link by selecting the dash at the top of the list.

After a Person, Contact or Child field has been added to a form, the field will show as faded out to indicate that it cannot be added again. It is not possible to include a duplicate smart linked field and validation will prevent this.

For example, if you want to send a form to your members and you would like the form to pre-fill their email address, select the Person Email field. Once used, it will show as faded out.

Another option is to select Email from the Standard field section and smart link it to ChurchSuite's Email field. After clicking Save, the Person Email field will show as faded out because a Smart link has been made.

However, if you need to collect further email addresses, you can select Email from the Standard fields section and use this field without a Smart link as many times as necessary.

A linking icon indicates that a field has a Smart link.

Top Tip

When deciding whether or not to use Smart links, consider the following examples:

  • Form 1 is created using only standard fields with no smart linking in place. It includes fields for Name, Mobile and Address.
  • Form 2 is created using smart linked fields for First & Last Name, Email, Mobile and Address.

These forms would behave in the following ways:

  • Anyone visiting the public URL for Form 1 or Form 2 would notice no difference between them - the forms would look identical.
  • Any invitees to Form 1 would see a blank form with no pre-filled data because there are no Smart links.
  • Invitees to Form 2 would see their own data pre-filled in the fields because Smart links are in place.
  • Clicking Add contact on any unlinked responses for Form 1 would open an empty pop up with no pre-filled data for creating a new contact.
  • Clicking Add contact on any unlinked responses for Form 2 would open a pop up for creating a new contact with the First Name, Last Name, Email, Mobile and Address data filled in.

At any time, the fields on Form 1 could be edited and Smart links could be added. In this scenario Form 1 would then behave exactly like Form 2.

  • Existing invitees who had not previously responded to the invite would start to see their data pre-filled in Form 1.
  • Clicking Add contact for any unlinked responses to Form 1 would show a pop up for creating a new contact with the First Name, Last Name, Email, Mobile and Address data filled in.

In the same way, the fields on Form 2 could be edited at any time to remove the Smart links. This would stop the data being pre-filled for invitees who have not previously responded. It would also stop pre-populating data in the pop up which appears when clicking Add contact from a form response.

When building a form, the fields available to a user vary based on the form's Visible in setting (modules), the Access setting of the form (Public/Private/Anonymous) and the fields already present within the form at the time. The following rules apply to the available field list:

  • Anonymous forms will not offer any Person, Contact or Children fields - only Elements and Standard fields will be available. Smart links will not be available for Standard fields.
  • Forms which are not visible in the Address Book will not show any Contact fields.
  • Forms which are not visible in the Children module will not show any Child fields.
  • Any Person, Contact or Child fields already included within the form will show as faded out in the list of items as a smart linked field cannot be added more than once.

In summary, a Public or Private empty form which is visible in the Address Book and Children module will show every field as available. A form can have any number of Standard fields without a Smart link but Person, Contact and Child fields can only be used once.

Adding items to a form

Each list of fields - such as Standard fields, Person fields - can be expanded or collapsed by clicking on the arrow at the top of the list.

Each item has an icon, a name and a '+' icon which is visible when you hover over it.

Items can be added to a form in the following ways:

  • Double clicking on an item will add it to the bottom of the form.
  • Clicking the + icon will add the item to the bottom of the form.
  • Dragging an item will place it into a specific place in the form.

When an item is added to the form, it will show initially in edit mode with the ability to add a Smart link if relevant. As well as asking for a Name, you have the option to write some Help text and select whether or not a respondent is Required to answer the question. Save must be clicked in order to add the item to your form.

When adding items such as Checkbox list, Dropdown list and Radio list, you can specify Options which will be presented to the respondent.

Complete the relevant fields and click Save to add the item to the form.

Parental forms for multiple children

There are many scenarios in which a parent may need to complete a form for multiple children eg a consent form for a weekend away. We plan to add more functionality in the coming months - including conditional questions - which will make answering questions about multiple children on one form much easier to handle.

In the meantime, in order for a parent to complete a form for several children, there are two main options. Your decision depends on how you intend to use the response eg whether or not you want a separate form for each child so that you can link a response to each child or whether one form linked to the parent is sufficient.

To create a separate form for each child, enabling you to update the child’s profile, we suggest creating a Public form in the Children module. Email parents, asking them to complete the form using the public form page URL - completing the form once for each of their children.

Alternatively, you could use Send Invite and include the form’s URL in the invitation email. Ask parents to complete the form for subsequent children by clicking on the URL. You could also explain this in the Success message and include the public URL link there as well.

Please be aware that if you use Send Invite and parents select the Edit link in their confirmation email, any new information added will Edit their original response. It will not create a new response for an additional child.

To create one form covering multiple children, create a form which has several sections of the same child-related questions. This enables parents to complete the relevant information about each of their children on one form. In this case, the response could be linked to the parent who completed the form but it couldn't be linked to all of the separate children mentioned. You will not be able to update the profile of multiple children using this method.

As you add items to your form, on the right hand side you will see the form as it will look on the online form page. A drag handle enables you to reorder items and a drop down menu enables you to Edit, Delete and View changes to an item (if changes have been made).

If you would like to view your form as respondents will see it, select Preview form which will show when a form is in Draft or when access is Private.

Changes to an item are shown in a pop up.

As well as the Edit option, a form item can be edited by double clicking anywhere on the item itself.

At the bottom of the column is an Add item button. When selected, it presents a dropdown showing all of the available Standard fields and Elements for quick form building.

When you have completed building your form, publish it by clicking Publish under the form's title or Publish in the blue information message.

Embed a video in a form

You can easily embed a video in a form, surfacing it as a playable video within the public-facing Form Page. Here's how...

When viewing a video, such as on the YouTube website, click the "Share" option on the YouTube video preview and select Copy embed code. You can also access this menu option by right-clicking on the video.

Back in ChurchSuite, add Text to your form and click on the Action menu to surface the second row of HTML tools. Select the "Source code" tool designated by a <> icon.

Paste the embed code for your video into the "Source code" viewer, pasting it into the appropriate place within the source code view and click Save. Next, use the Go to form option on the form's "View" page to preview how the video displays.

The pasted embed code will usually include a parameter for setting the video's frame width and height. So in this example…

<iframe width="894" height="503" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/fViYK_Xb3Wg" title="YouTube video player" frameborder="0" allow="accelerometer; autoplay; clipboard-write; encrypted-media; gyroscope; picture-in-picture" allowfullscreen></iframe>

...notice the width="894" and height="503". If the original width and height are not appropriate, these can be altered to fit within the form page’s available space.

A published form will continue to show the Setup tab but it will be 'read only', showing the form items without the ability to edit them. A message will alert you that you need to click Set as draft in order to make changes to the form.

When a form is published, the options at the top of the "View" page change.

  • Send invite enables you to send an invitation to respondents (see related support article).
  • Edit enables you to edit the form's settings.
  • More opens a dropdown list of additional options - Set as draft, Duplicate and Delete.
  • Go to form takes you to the form's online page. Potential respondents can be sent an invitation to complete the form or the URL of this page can be emailed to them.

A form's page respects the form's Start and End dates. If a form page is visited before the form's Start date, the form will not allow responses and a feedback message will state the date and time at which the form opens for responses.

If a form page is visited after the form's End date, the form will not allow responses and a feedback message will state the date and time at which the form closed for responses.

When someone clicks on a Public form's URL, the fields will be empty, awaiting completion. After completing the form and clicking Submit, the respondent will see a Success message and a record of their responses.

When a respondent submits a form for the first time, a Notification email is sent to form Overseers, informing them that a new response has been submitted.

A Confirmation email is sent to email addresses in Email fields which have Send confirmation ticked, as described earlier. The confirmation email is logged in a person's Communication log on their contact or child record when Send Invite has been used.

Clicking Edit in the confirmation email will take the respondent to their previously submitted form so that they can make any desired changes.

A respondent's completed form has a unique response URL which can be visited at a later date if changes need to be made. The fields on a response URL are always pre-populated with the values which were submitted when the response was either created or last submitted. Submitting this form will edit the existing response and create change logs within ChurchSuite. After changes are submitted, another confirmation email will be sent.

Embedding a form in a website

To embed a form within a website, add ?iframe=true to the end of the form URL and use this in an iframe eg https://demo.churchsuite.co.uk/forms/oqg2zvti?iframe=true

For reference the full iframe code would look like this:

<iframe src="https://demo.churchsuite.co.uk/forms/7udhxgqd?iframe=true" style="width: 100%; height: 600px; border: 0" scrolling="yes"></iframe>

This will show the form without any logos, headers or whitespace so instead of this…

...the embedded form will show like this.

When doing this, it’s important to remember that:

  • You will need to use Heading to give the form a title as the form Name (title) won't be shown when this method is used.

  • When a respondent clicks Submit, the Success message will appear within the iframe. The user will not be taken away from the website the iframe is in.

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