One man, one idea, one weekend. (FormWatch 1st day)

This weekend I am setting up shop in a hotel room to get started building my first project in the open. I hope that you will follow along here or on https://twitter.com/BjornFridal.

I'll try to do a couple of updates each day this weekend. It won’t be pretty, but I am super excited to get started and see how much damage I can do in a weekend 😀

The problem

Have you ever had an important form on your website suddenly stop working? Maybe it's a contact form, a call-me-up form or another important lead generating form. Perhaps you made an update to the website and accidentally killed the form, maybe the mailing server is down or maybe the form validation isn't working as expected. Whatever the case, those forms can be very important lead or sales generating tools for some companies. A form that just stops working, without anyone knowing, can result in lost revenue.

The solution

I am going to buid a service you can use to watch your website forms. I'll call the service FormWatch. You tell FormWatch what forms on your wesbite you want it to watch. FormWatch will then go to the form on a regular basis (hourly or daily), fill in the form as instructed and submit it. FormWatch will then wait for confirmation that the form was successfully submitted. This could come in the form of an confirmation email. If FormWatch receives no confirmation, then it alerts the customer.

I know there're several existing solutions to the above problem, but I fell this is an interesting problem to explore.

UPDATE: 1st day summary


Saturday morning and I am back at the computer. Didn't get quite enough sleep. but hey, weekends are not for sleeping, right? 😀

Friday was a productive day. I mapped out a high level roadmap for the FormWatch project and then circled in on the tasks that I want to focus on this weekend. Since I am using the weekend to really kickstart the project, I want to tackle some of the hardest problems now. There're plenty of small tasks or tasks that just doesn't require as much brainpower. I am leaving those taks to the many late nights of hacking in the coming weeks.

When a user wants to setup a new form to watch in FormWatch, that user needs a way to instruct FormWatch what form should be watched and how the form fields should be filled out. For that purpose I am creating a simple formbuilder. So if the user wants FormWatch to watch a contact form, the user will then create that form with the formbuilder eg. adding a name field, an email field.
If this doesn't make any sense, let me know in the comments 😉

All in all a good 1st day where I managed to break up an important task and I managed not to get sidetracked or sucked into pointless details 😇

Keep hacking 🦄

  1. 2

    It’s a cool idea, but I think my concern would be if someone is willing to pay for a service to watch if their form goes down, why wouldn’t they just pay for a form handing service instead that’s definitely going to stay up.

    Also many forms use recaptcha or other means to prevent bot submissions, would your service be able to deal with that?

    1. 1

      Hi @Harrjm Thanks for chiming in 🙂

      In cases where people are already using a form service, then FormWatch definitely doesn't make much sense. Then it's up to the form service provider to make sure everything is running according to plan. My target audience is the companies that have custom forms on their website. Forms that are important to the compaines eg. book a meeting, order a course, call-me-up etc. Lead and sales generating forms.

      The recaptcha shouldn't be too much of a problem. I already have a simple prototype running and it's handling Google ReCaptcha. Could also be made into a spambot 😉

      I like having my ideas challenged, so thanks 👌

  2. 1

    Thanks for sharing. A few points:

    • It may not be economically-feasible/practically-possible for user to setup sending of confirmation email on form submission. User may have limited email quota. User may be using a form service which charges extra for alert email on form submission. User may not know where and what code to change on his system to send confirmation email to you. It may be a breach of legal contract with vendor if user changes his system by himself.

    • If form submission is being recorded and/or sending alert to the user, user will have to find a way to mute your form submissions.

    PS: Loved the scenery outside of the window in the picture.

    1. 1

      Hi @devosi Thanks for taking the time to provide feedback. Really appreciate it! 😊

      The confirmation email is just the email that the form is already configured to send to the person who filled it out. Not all forms do this, but many form will send a “receipt”, so the person knows that it has been delivered. My idea is that FormWatch can be instructed to fill in the email field in a form with a unique FormWatch email address eg [email protected] That way FormWatch will be able to wait and listen for the confirmation email and notify the customer if it doesn’t get one within say one hour.

      Regarding you second point you are absolutely correct! The customer will need a way to filter out the emails or database records that FormWatch will generate. That is a consequence of doing complete form testing.

      Thanks 🙏 😊

  3. 1

    Sounds like an interesting idea 😎

  4. 1

    Building in the open - love it!

    1. 1

      Thanks @kevon! Feels like a good idea. Both because it's nice to share, but also because of the accountability :D

  5. 1

    Neat idea! Would you wanna post this on Kern.al to see if others wanna help give feedback?

    1. 1

      Sure thing @joelh I just signed up. Looking forward to checking it out :)

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