There's a long list of new features for Formloom 4. The list isn't as long as the new features introduced with version three, but still worthy of mention.
Here's what Mike lists as being new:
So let's be honest. I never used Formloom before. I tested the beta version of V4 and was impressed. Then, after seeing Yabdab's demo page, I decided that yes, Formloom beats the trousers (pants for those on the wrong side of the pond) off FormSnap and have purchased the plugin.
Why? Because the feature list is way longer (read: 'better') and I was impressed with the new page break feature for longer forms.
Formloom is a plugin. A Formloom Helper Stack is included with the plugin which allows you to add your completed form to any stacks page. The UI, even though the forms themselves can get very complicated, is easy to understand.
More complicated forms can be divided into 'subpages' and navigation dots are automatically added so that the user can see how many pages there are. Moving backwards or forwards within a form, or accidentally refreshing the page does not delete any information that was previously entered.
Remember Omnidea? They are a small Italian software smithy. They have a cool app that gives you rulers on your Mac's screen and they have a couple of RapidWeaver plugins. RapidMaps, for instance, lets you insert very flexible Google Maps into your web page and then there is RapidCart, one of the first e-commerce solutions available for RapidWeaver.
RapidCart is a little long in the tooth now and, while it is still a great solution for smaller online stores, it's not ideal for larger stock lists.
Rather than update RapidCart, Omnidea has decided to create a completely new store solution — RapidCart Pro [RCP] The decision to do a rewrite solves a number of problems that e-commerce solutions in RapidWeaver have had until now. You'll see what I mean as we go along.
Adding products to your store is easy. RCP makes use of RapidWeaver's resources, so you drag your product images there. If you are selling t-shirts, you can either add a blue t-shirt, a yellow t-shirt and a red t-shirt, or you can add a Led Zeppelin t-shirt with options for a blue, yellow, or red shirt. Obviously a variable for the size of the t-shirt can be set in each case.
If you add multiple images to your products, RCP automatically creates a slideshow. If you want to show larger images, just 'Enable Lightbox' in Settings.
If you offer discounts based on the number of items purchased RCP makes this process a lot easier than in the original RapidCart (I never was terribly good at numeration and found the old process complicated).
New laws in Europe dictate that some products must be sold with VAT calculated in the purchaser's, not in the vendor's country. RapidCart Pro elegantly solves this problem with a complete editable list of countries. You can even restrict the countries that your products are available in by activating or de-activating them in the list.
Shipping costs vary with the number of products being shipped and with the shipping method used. RCP has extensive options to add costs based on the number of items, weight or total cost.
You can add multiple carriers to RCP. An example to demonstrate how much thought has gone into the programming: Let's say your business is based in Belgium. You can add a Standard Postal service for delivery all over the world. Add a delivery service such as UPS for deliveries in Europe. Add Overnight Delivery for Belgium, France and Holland. You may add or remove countries that each carrier can deliver to. And If you offer free shipping for orders over a certain amount, there's an option for that for each carrier too.
Special offers are a cinch too. Add an offer, decide when the offer should be available and forget about it – come back next year, if you wish, and reset the dates to repeat the offer.
The plugin setup is an extensive set of three pages. In a similar fashion to the original, RCP will display standard buttons for adding articles to your cart and completing your purchase. You can choose between 'Flat' 'Almost Flat' and 'Gradient'. However, geeks can easily add in CSS and JS to completely customise RCP.
The number of columns displayed at any breakpoint can be set – yes, RCP is responsive – and headers and footers can optionally be displayed on each page; on catalogue pages; on product pages and/or on cart pages.
Payment: There are multiple options for adding tax – too many to go through here – and extensive options for requesting customer details. Which brings us to payment …
… Obviously payment via PayPal is available – for testing, PayPal can be sandboxed.
Options for accepting orders without processing payments are available. Sensitive data, such as your bank account details, can be attached to the order details via the configuration.
Further payment processes may easily be added to RCP's backend. As you read, payment via Stripe is in preparation, and I am assured that other options will follow. As JS customisation is available, payments can readily be set up by anyone with an understanding of PHP.
So what about Stacks Users?
RCP includes a set of stacks that will allow you to import your store, or parts of your store into Stacks pages. This is especially important if you use a freestyle theme such as FreeStack R, Foundation or Pure. Don't be confused by the fact that your store front isn't visible in preview, though. RCP is entirely PHP based and doesn't become visible until it has been published.
A great deal of thought has gone into the re-creation of RapidCart and the new Pro version is easily the best solution available for setting up an online store that is hosted on your, or your customer's server. It is a vast improvement on the original RapidCart and I can recommend it to anyone that uses RapidWeaver and has a line of products for sale.
On the various RapidWeaver forums, the same question is repeated time and again:
Which is the best eCommerce solution for RapidWeaver?
The answer is not that simple without asking further questions.
Do you aim to sell dozens of products or hundreds?
How complicated are the options required to sell your product?
If you aim to sell hundreds of products, you need read no further. You will need a professional e-commerce solution such as Shopify or Ecwid etc. This comparison is aimed at those designers who are looking to incorporate a smaller web-store in their online presence. The comparison is also restricted to two stacks and one plugin. Cart from Yuzool, PaySnap from Yabdab and the plugin RapidCart from Omnidea.
Let's go through them in order of price again:
Cart is a suite of six stacks from from Yuzool and is the new kid on the block.
Michael has achieved his aim of creating a shopping cart that is quick and easy to setup. Cart is designed specifically for payments via PayPal.
It is recommended that Cart Enabler and Cart Return are added to the bottom of the page. Cart Enabler sets the cart popup. Without it, clicking a Buy Now button sends the user directly to the PayPal page.
The Cart Return stack empties the cart when the customer is redirected to your page from PayPal.
Cart offers three variations. The first option is to add a Cart Simple button to your page. In the HUD, you can set your PayPal ID, the Currency and the Item Name. A checkbox will enable an SKU (Stock Keeping Unit - a unique identifier for each distinct product that can be purchased). The product then requires a price (Amount) and a price for Shipping. It is also possible to add a Discount. The numeral entered here will be deducted from the final price.
The HUD has further settings for the Return URL and a Cancel URL – the paths that PayPal will use to return a customer to your site. The Cancel URL is optional. The final setting is for the Button size and colour.
The second option is a Cart Variable stack. The basic settings for PayPal ID, Currency, Item Name, etc. are the same as the Simple stack, but Cart Variable allows you to set up to seven variables which could be used for adding sizes or colours for your product.
The third option is Cart Variable Price. Once more, the basic setup is identical the the previous two stacks. Once more there are seven variables available, but this time you may add an Option and a price variation.
If we use T-Shirts as an example, this gives us two scenarios — you could either set Blue T-Shirts and a price of $10, Red/$9, Green/$11, for instance, or you could set a graduated rebate, i.e. 1 Shirt at $10, 2 Shirts/$18, 3 Shirts/$24 etc.
You can drop as many Cart Simple and/or Variable stacks as you need onto a Stacks page – one for each item you wish to sell.
Cart's final stack is a Cart View button. The button will open up the cart popup and allow you to check out.
PaySnap from Yabdab is a suite of seven stacks and is specifically for payments with PayPal.
You will need to add a single Base stack to your stacks page to enable PaySnap. The Base stack's HUD is where you will set up your PayPal details.
Drop a PaySnap Item stack onto your page and in the HUD you can give that item a name, an Item Number and a Price. You may add Weights, Handling Fees and Tax. Into the Item stack you may now add further stacks such as image or text stacks to describe your products, for instance.
You will need to add a Price stack into the Item stack. The item's price is added to the HUD. The size and colour can also be set here.
With an Item Options stack you can add a Dropdown, Radio Buttons, Checkbox or Option Text to the Item stack. You may define the number of options available (Blue T-Shirt, Red T-Shirt etc.) and you may also set separate prices for each option. Multiple Option stacks may be added to the item stack, so that in addition to colours, you could add an Option stack to set bulk rebates, for instance. No maths as such necessary. For our T-Shirts – If one shirt costs $10 that is the price you enter. If two Shirts cost $9 each, you enter $18 etc.
The Quantity stack lets your visitor choose how many T-Shirts he wants to buy.
There is an option for an Editable Price which would allow the customer to set the amount of a donation or how much he wants to pay for an item. For obvious resons, Editable Price items can not be used in conjunction with products that have options with prices assigned to them.
PaySnap's Buttons can be set to 'Add To Cart' or 'View Cart'. A choice of three sizes is available as are options for a custom button or custom code.
The final PaySnap stack is for More Details. This will add a text link to your product, which will open a popup window. You can enter text and add an image to the popup window and images may be linked. The size and colour of the popup are defined in the HUD.
RapidCart from Omnidea is a RapidWeaver plugin. Plugins allow you to build independent RapidWeaver pages. For the past twelve months at least, Omnidea have been overhauling the plugin, but there is no news as to when it will be released.
Once you've added a RapidCart page to your project, you can immediately begin to add items to your product selection. First drop in an image of the item you wish to sell; add a name for the item and, if you wish, an SKU.
You should then add the alternate text for the image. This is correctly labled 'Image SEO'. Define the size of the automatically generated thumbnail and, if required, add a shadow.
Optionally, you can add the weight of the goods, a purchase limit and a status – 'Available', 'Out of Stock' or 'Disabled' (the article will not be displayed until enabled again).
In the description tab at the bottom of the page, a formatted-text box will be displayed. You may either enter your product description here and format it using RapidWeavers tools, or you may switch to HTML and format your text using HTML and CSS.
The Pricing tab at the bottom of the page is also straightforward. Enter the price for the product. Below this, you may enter a special price (the original price will then be displayed with a strikethrough). Taxes, Shipping Costs and Shipping Costs for each additional item can also be added here.
An option for a coupon code is included, but coupon codes must first be activated in the page setup, where you will also set up currency and payment options etc.
If you plan to offer rebates for bulk purchases, things begin to get a little more complicated.
You will need to go to the options tab and define purchase options separately. Let's stick with our T-Shirts. You're selling T-Shirts at $10 each. If a customer orders two shirts, you want to sell the shirts for $9, 3 Shirts $8, etc.
You'll first need to add an Option e.g. Price. Then you should define an Option Value 1 T-Shirt and $0 – you already set up the price, so nothing needs to be added – weights may be defined if you're selling dry goods. Next you'll need to create a new Option Value 2 T-Shirts and add the price of $8, 3 T-Shirts $14, etc.
Now when your customer adds two T-Shirts to his basket, the price $18 will be displayed, plus additional costs for Tax and Shipping. If you want to add more complicated price reductions, such as 10% for two purchases, 12% for three etc. you have some serious maths to do.
In the page setup, you may choose how many columns you wish for your new store and you may apply your own custom formatting. 'Add to Basket' Buttons are added automatically (but custom buttons will look better in Firefox) and the cart, displayed at the top of your page looks brilliant – especially as you can watch your purchases 'fly' into the basket.
If you have multiple RapidCart pages, they may either share a shopping cart or each have a separate cart, defined with a cart ID in the page setup.
I have had good results importing RapidCart pages into Stacks pages via PlusKit; a single-column layout adapts well on a responsive page. If the product thumbnails are kept relatively small the page will still display on an iPhone in portrait mode. From landscape mode upwards, the display is excellent, even with larger Thumbnails.
RapidCart has a separate set-up page for additional costs based on total price, total number of products or total weight and has payment options for PayPal, Google Wallet, E-junkie, Sisow/iDeal or direct order via mail.
Cart is a very fast and simple solution. You can set up a page and sell products within minutes. You can offer product variations or price variations, but can not combine the two. However, if you are selling products that only require a few variations, Cart could be the ideal solution.
PaySnap is more complicated to set up but offers product variations that may be combined with each other (size, colour, rebate, for instance). PaySnap includes a versatile, built in popup for product information. Set up requires a little thought but if you want to offer options combined with price reductions based on bulk purchases, it is worth the extra effort.
RapidCart provides a solution for setting up products with more intricate options. It has a page devoted to defining additional costs and allows payment via solutions other than PayPal. The setup can become complicated, i.e. when setting rebates or changing the stylesheets to include custom buttons. It remains, however, exceedingly versatile – which justifies the high cost of the plugin.
Because Cart and PaySnap are stacks, you can design your store exactly as you would like it, using as many columns as you wish and arranging the layout to suit your taste exactly. RapidCart on the other hand is more restrictive, the layout is as RapidCart lays it out; you may choose to display your content in up to four columns, but these are not responsive. It remains to be seen what the update will bring – when it finally arrives.
It should be noted that RapidCart allows items to be duplicated once they have been set up, and stacks can easily be duplicated. This simplifies the setting up of products that have similar properties.
This time last month, I got a message telling me that Yabdab's Formloom had been updated to version 3.
My reaction was "yeah, so what?" Wrong reaction!
Last night I got a message that Yabdab was up to something new, so I looked at their website – nothing new except for one of those dozens of Black Friday offers, but while I'm here why not take a quick look to see what's new about Formloom.
A lot, it turns out. A list as long as my arm.
Formloom is a RapidWeaver Plugin. Plugins allow you to build complete specialised pages for RapidWeaver: storefronts, maps, etc. or – forms. Not really prickling and anyway, I use stacks and it's always a bind getting those pages to display on a stacks page. Not so with Formloom. Formloom has become fully responsive and using the new Formloom 3 Remote Stack, you can now embed any Formloom 3 form into Stacks pages.
Programmed exclusively for RapidWeaver® 6, Formloom 3 was updated to take advantage of everything that RapidWeaver 6 and Mac OS X 10.9+ has to offer:
Totally Responsive Using Bootstrap, Formloom 3 has been completely rebuilt to output Mobile-First, Responsive HTML. Your forms will look perfect on phones, tablets or any mobile device.
New input types, include:
Further enhancements are:
Save Data to Google® Sheets Save your form submitted data to your specified Google® (Spread)Sheets.
Tooltips Place hover-tooltips on your inputs and position them to the top, letft, right, bottom and more.
Input Icons Complete Font Awesome support for placing icons in your input fields.
Masking Support Make sure input data s formatted exactly how you need it by using the new masking feature.
New Validation Rules Make sure you get the info you need with the many validation rules that have been added to Formloom 3.
Block Trouble Makers New security feature allows you to block form submissions from specified email addresses and IP addresses.
Added Style Settings Design your form by choosing the colors, font and font sizes for your form.
DKIM Support Provide added validation for emails sent from your Formloom 3 form using DKIM.
Custom Classes For power CSS users, Yabdab provides the ability to add custom classes to your form inputs.
To round off this list, the user interface has been improved and looks good with the addition of full-screen functionailty, cleaner layout and retina optimized UI.
Yabdab says that there are many more improvements under the hood making it difficult now, to choose between FormSnap – Yabdab's form stacks – and the advanced functionality of Formloom 3.
If you build professional websites, Formloom is very much a plugin that you will purchase once and use dozens of times.
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