Kelsey Martens
Kelsey Martens

Director of Software Operations

Posted on Apr 17, 2019

Express Forms plugin for Craft CMS now available!

It's with great pleasure that we announce the availability of Express Forms, an intuitive and lightweight form builder plugin for Craft CMS that's easy to use and doesn't assume much, so it's a smoother experience if you're wanting to build simple forms or handle your own templating and custom features! It's designed to be a more simplified approach to building and managing forms than a more powerful solution like Freeform.

Express Forms starts at $39 for the Lite edition, making it more affordable for smaller sites, and $89 for the Pro edition if you need built-in API integrations or more exporting options.

It contains every feature available to the native Craft Contact Form plugin and more. One of the main purposes of Express Forms was to meet and exceed Craft's Contact Form plugin (combined with all other helper plugins) functionality, and offer it all as a single, combined and robust plugin that works for every site's needs. It's quite messy to consider that for a usable basic form setup, you might need to install up to 5 helper plugins in addition to Craft's Contact Form plugin. You can now stop wasting valuable development hours wrestling with alternative form plugins.

Use coupon code XFORMS20 to save $20 off your purchase of Express Forms!
Promo valid until May 10, 2019
Express Forms - Form Builder

Developer-friendly #

Express Forms was written with a "developer first" mindset. The whole Express Forms plugin is an extension of itself. All of the features that you see in Express Forms (apart from the Form Builder) are extensions of the basic core plugin. The barebones Express Forms plugin can only render a naked form *open* and *close* tag and perform a submit and store a submission for each submitted value. Everything else is implemented by extending its own events. Examples of this are: defining a return URL after the form submits successfully, adding the Craft CSRF token, the encrypted form payload, file upload and validation, email validation, required field validation, all of the form exports and more! All of it is added to Express Forms via its events, which are well documented in our documentation so that you can easily add your own functionality as painlessly as possible.

Express Forms vs Freeform #

It's probably natural to assume you might be wondering why we would add a second form plugin to our portfolio of products. While there's a spectrum of needs for every website, we believe that the majority of website/developer needs fall into 2 groups:

  1. Customers looking for a powerful form building plugin that is filled with convenience features to do all or most of the heavy lifting for them. This could be because the developer doesn't know how to robustly achieve those features, or it could simply be that the developer doesn't wish to spend extra time figuring out and implementing those features. This is the goal and the market of Freeform. I should note, however, that Freeform is still highly flexible and customizable. It's just that it makes the assumption you're wanting the power and convenience that it has built in.
  2. Customers only needing a simpler solution for simpler sites or needs, and/or customers that enjoy putting in the work to have the fine control of getting forms and features working exactly to their needs, regardless of how complex their forms need to be. This is the target audience for Express Forms.

What we realized over time was that it was quite difficult attempting to reach most of the market with a single plugin. By creating a second form plugin, it relieves the pressure of trying to make Freeform a one-size-fits-all solution and allows us to accelerate development and improvements on both. And just to calm anyone worried about the future of Freeform on their sites, don't worry, we're not making any breaking changes that will make it less developer friendly or customizable, etc. We greatly value the large number of customers that enjoy Freeform's powerful flexibility and extending its features. While we anticipate that some existing Freeform customers may wish to switch to using Express Forms instead, we suspect that most new Express Forms customers will be the ones that weren't interested in Freeform, or that it was too complex and/or expensive for a specific client's needs. We believe that many existing native Craft Contact Form plugin users will see the significant advantages available in the single, robust Express Forms plugin for the affordable cost of $39.

If you're wanting a feature by feature comparison between Craft's Contact Form, Express Forms and Freeform, you can check out the comparison chart here.

What's happening to Freeform? #

Freeform isn't going anywhere. It is still our flagship product and will continue to receive awesome improvements! During the development period of Express Forms, we slowed down new features for Freeform, but that will resume again now. While building Express Forms, we learned a lot, and we plan to carry over some additional exciting features that are similar to some features inside Express Forms.

In addition to that, we will soon be combining the *Lite* and *Pro* plugins as a single plugin that has editions (now that it's available), which will allow for a smoother purchasing/installing/updating experience. We also have plans to add more big features, including a major release eventually that solves some annoying problems like global fields (and running out of fields!), etc.

Give Express Forms a try... #

We encourage you to try out Express Forms. Install a free "trial" (there are no limitations to it) from the Plugin Store and see what you think! To get a taste of what's involved with Express Forms, check out the Getting Started documentation guide.

Use coupon code XFORMS20 to save $20 off your purchase of Express Forms!
Promo valid until May 10, 2019

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