The more I use Gravity Forms for WordPress here at UMW, the more I am constantly impressed by such a full-featured and flexible plugin. This is not some shill paid post. I’ve used WordPress for 5 years now developing sites and themes and my discovery of Gravity Forms this year has blown my mind by the possibilities it opens up for flexible web systems using WordPress. Here are just a few cases where I’ve had the opportunity recently of implementing that plugin with some other great tricks:

Month of Microfinance

The department of Economics wanted to have a form on the homepage of their website where they could ask people to submit their name and e-mail address to become a “supporter” of the cause. Then they wanted to have these names scrolling across the screen in a widget. Because I’ve enjoyed implementing Custom Posts recently to solve some of these odd database items I went with that here, creating a custom post called “Endorsements” and then using the awesome Gravity Forms + Custom Post Types plugin to create a new custom post for each form submission. Last step was employing the Vertical Scroll Recent Posts plugin (and doing a custom edit to it to look at that custom post type instead of regular “posts”) and throw the widget on the site. The result is an awesome dynamic scrolling list of supporters who have entered their information on the site. Check it out here!

Germanna Syllabus Repository

The College of Arts and Sciences is starting some preliminary discussion on how to collaborate on their syllabi with the local community colleges and perhaps glean some information about learning is directed across these campuses. To that end Jim and I recommended a UMW Blogs site (naturally) and I set to figuring out how to easily allow folks to upload their syllabi to the site and collaborate. Gravity Forms was an absolute breeze because it allowed me to assign the uploaded document to a custom field and then use that URL however I saw fit. What I did here was made use of the template https://docs.google.com/viewer provides to automatically display a post template (again, a custom post type called Syllabus) with an embedded version of the syllabus right in the page. I also made use of just a few custom taxonomies on that page like “Institution” and “Subject” that will allow for some flexibility in drilling down sets of syllabi later on. Much more to come on this site but check it out here!

I’m a cheapskate and don’t like to spend money on plugins when I don’t have to, and I’ve tried plenty of standard form plugins (which are fine if you just need someone to submit a form and get an email from it). But Gravity Forms is amazing in the way it can be used for so many other customized functions. Also the support folks are incredibly helpful (special shoutout to Carl Hancock), even to the point of responding on Twitter to advice when they found me complaining and figured out my problem. The plugin is an incredible tool to have with WordPress that makes this platform that much more powerful for building customized websites and applications on top of it.