Spring (well, winter) cleaning

Hi all,

I’m doing some spring cleaning around here: moving subdomains around on the host, removing old DBs, old subdomains and so on. You wouldn’t believe how much junk has piled up over the years.

Pretty sure there won’t be any interruptions to the site being online, but here’s a heads up in case…


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Demo and bug tracker

Hi all, long time no see!

I’ve been taking stock of the scope of Form Tools project these last few days and in order to push the project forward I’ve got to trim a few things back first. Think of them as austerity measures. ;) As such, I’m removing the demo and bug tracking sections of the website.

The demo feature has been a bit of a disaster from the start. It’s a really cool idea and I don’t regret doing it: roll your own sandboxed demo, play with it for 24 hours and if you like what you see, download the script and get it going yourself. But it’s an unbelievable memory hog, impossible to maintain in its current state and taking up a lot of server resource (meaning: costing a lot of money).

The bug tracker is simply dated and no longer used. The entire Form Tools codebase is now over on github. Github has a much better bug tracker which is a better replacement. I’ve transfered all the reported bugs to github.

I’ll also probably put the old “donate” section back up again. I know sounds painfully self-serving, but donations go a long way to keeping this script online.


Posted in News | 2 Comments

Form Tools twitter account

Hey all,

I’ll be reporting on the FT website update via a Twitter account, found here. A lot of news is too small to warrant a whole post (e.g. new screenshots, sections being completed, etc.) and this sort of news suits Twitter a lot better.

On the new site, the Twitter feed will replace the “Recent Updates” section on the current Form Tools webpage. That existing section has a whole thwack of custom logic and code which I’ll be able to drop.

Plus Twitter is a way more interactive way to post news. It feels extremely one-way right now.


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Back to Form Tools! Again!

Alrighty! Back to Form Tools at last! :) Thanks so much for everyone’s kind words.

So, my first task is to get the new website finished and out the door. There’s still a lot of things to solve, but it’s come a long way. The new standalone documentation is ready
and has a temporary home here. Tonight I updated the README to include instructions on how you can download it an build it on your local computer, should you want to.

Oh and here’s a screenshot of a working design for homepage of the new site. It’s okay… I’m not really that happy with it, so I may start afresh… still, just wanted to show that I’d been doing something. ;)

Form Tools website: new design

Mostly I need to sort out how how all the dynamic aspects of the site will work with one another. I want to reduce the vast bulk of the site to a static site (html files, not php). This will make the site run far, far, far faster than it currently does (oh boy it’s slow!) and allow me to move it to a different host.

Anyway, I’ll keep you posted on how things are coming along. Kind of want to get the whole website thing out of the way so I can get back to the fun part: Form Tools development!

EDIT: here’s a second design for the new website. I think it’s a lot snappier, despite the clip-art computer. Also, notice the new logo. With each major revision of the script I’ve done a slight redux of the Form Tools logo, so I think it’s time! Originally it was a green stellated dodecahedron then it shifted to a plain blue dodecahedron. Now I’m thinking… icosahedron. Feels a little cooler. My wife has just thumbed-up the new logo + design, so I think I’m good to go now. :)


Posted in News | 4 Comments

Apologies and a timeframe

Hi all, I just wanted to make a quick post to apologize for not returning to Form Tools yet. It ended up being a heck of a few months – sick wife, new job. Well, now my wife is a lot better and I’ve settled into the job. Go 2015. :)

Rather than embark on Form Tools (a BIG task) I decided to spend what little time I had in finishing off a feature for another of my open source projects: I’m just wrapping up adding a REST API and should be done in the next week or two.

So! Here’s a timeline. I’ll be returning to Form Tools by Feb 15 at the very latest. I’ll post more then.

Again, sorry for the wait! That’s life sometimes. :)

Posted in News | 6 Comments

More time away…

Hi all,

I thought a post was in order. I’m afraid I haven’t been able to devote any time to Form Tools these last few months, for which I’m sorry. Very unfortunately, my wife got very sick indeed and has been in the hospital the last 2 months or so. She’ll be out in the next few weeks, but until my life has settled down I won’t be doing much of anything.

So, sadly Form Tools has to fall by the wayside once more… ah, to be infinitely wealthy and full of free time. :)

– Ben

Posted in New Website 2014 | 4 Comments

Documentation update

Hi all,

As part of the new Form Tools website rewrite I’ve been focusing on getting the documentation re-written in an online, editable format where anyone can contribute. You can see the work in progress here:

Each page contains an “EDIT” button at the bottom, allowing anyone to contribute fixes or additional documentation.

I have yet to add in searching and tagging – as well as port over all the existing documentation – but… progress!


Posted in Documentation, New Website 2014 | Leave a comment

Docs, forums,

Hi all,

Time for an update on what’s being going on around here.

For the new Form Tools site, I’ve been working on porting over the documentation into a self-editable form on github. I ended up settling on a popular tool called Jekyll which creates static content – kind of perfect for this particular situation. You can find the work here on github. It’s a bit early to contribute, however.

In case you missed it, my goal here is to allow the existing Form Tools documentation to be edited by anyone. Right now it’s closed off in a custom CMS, which is like so 2004. I’ve open sourced the documentation for all my other open source projects over the last couple of years and it’s kind of a no brainer for Form Tools.

Urgh… forums! We’re still battling the neverending tide of spam. A couple of days I decided to try a very different tack: I now manually approve all registrations. This is kind of a pain for you and me, since you have to wait for approval. But given the circumstances it may be the only option. Let’s see how it goes.
This is another of my open source scripts and the source of the majority of my donations. That script pays for Form Tools hosting and incidental costs, so it has to be my priority at times. Yesterday it was on the front page of reddit programming (a popular dev site) causing it to come crashing down. Oops. In the short term I’m going to need to focus on scaling that script up to accommodate the extra traffic. But this is all useful stuff for Form Tools – I’ll use the same hosting/scaling logic for Form Tools when the new site’s ready.

Update over!

– Ben

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Site redux update

Hi all,

As you’ve probably noticed, the forums are back online. I did my best to sandbox it, change passwords etc. etc., but really, I won’t be happy until the site has been overhauled.

On that note, the new site is coming along well! There will be a few new changes, including most notably:

  • Documentation will now be stored on github (but available at like now). This will allow people to contribute tutorials, documentation, fix typos and update anything out of date.
  • I’m dropping the demo. The demo is a monster – overcomplicated, slow and doesn’t give users a good enough impression of the script. So the first version of the new site won’t include it at all. I know this is a bit of a step down, but I need to tame the website and get it under control. If it included the demo, I’d be working on it until doomsday. I will probably add a demo back in again at a later date, but not for some time.
  • The new site will be hosted elsewhere.

There’s still lots and lots of work to be done, but progress is being made…

– Ben


Posted in News | 2 Comments

Forums taken offline

Hi all,

I’ve received a handful of emails this week from people saying that their email addresses used only in the Form Tools forums have been used in phishing attacks against them. This is extremely worrisome. Naturally we don’t pass along any information about our users to anyone, so I’m fairly sure this is the result of a hack.

I’m exceedingly sorry if you receive any spam from signing up on our forums.

This website (but not Form Tools itself, note!) has been the recipient of a handful of hacks over the years, always caused by buggy software – forums and WordPress. Sadly, there just doesn’t seem to be any stable forum software out there – they all get hacked eventually.

For the moment, to be safe I’m going to take the forums offline. I know this is a nuisance for many people, but I’d rather be safe than sorry. I’m going to look into what I can do over the next few days. Frankly, I haven’t decided how to proceed.

All of this brings into sharp focus that my attention to the website really is paramount.

*sigh*. Nothing like returning to work on an old script.


EDIT: here’s what’s happening. The forum will be back online by the end of the weekend (Jun 15th), with whatever additional safeguards I can put in place. Rather than just patch, I’m starting afresh with a new design, new everything. Once it’s ready I’ll be setting it up on a new hosting provider as well. The forums are invaluable. They’re such a great resource for developers I think the project would be much poorer without them. I’ll just have to be more diligent in keeping them up to date and spam-free.

EDIT: July 6th. Well, the forums have been completely saturated with spam this evening, and it’s possible they’ve been hacked as well. I’m afraid I’m taking them offline until further notice.

Posted in Important!, Maintenance | 2 Comments