Connect forms and pass information for approvals, follow-ups, multiple payment options and more.

Creating workflows that connect forms and share information is a popular request by many customers. So popular, in fact, that we created an extensive Workflow feature to automate form linking and mapping information between forms. As useful as the Workflow feature is, sometimes all you need is to connect Form A to Form B.

Connect Forms

Some examples of where connecting forms is useful include:

  • Approval: A visitor sends a form response to someone else, who then sends another response with information added to the original.
  • Follow-up: A visitor sends a form response to someone who replies with a different form containing the original information plus additional questions.
  • Special Payment Form: A visitor has the option to pay in full or by multiple recurring payments, which requires 2 separate forms with different payment settings.

Is it possible to connect multiple forms together and pass information between them? Yes!

Of course, the easiest way to connect forms is by using the Workflow feature, which automates much of the work below and connects the results easily in your FormSite account. Sometimes it’s possible to create the process without using Workflow, and that’s what we’re covering here.

The approval and follow-up examples use basically the same setup:

  • Submit Form A
  • Send email notification with link to Form B
  • Submit Form B

The link in the email is the crucial part of the system and uses two functions: Piping and pre-populating.

How to Connect Forms:

  1. Create your first form (Form A) using the form builder. Add the items you need to collect your information using the basic form fields like Short Answer, Long Answer, Radio Buttons, Dropdown Lists, Checkboxes, etc.
  2. Copy your form (Form B) and add any additional items, such as a Radio Button item with options for Approved/Not Approved.
  3. While still on Form B, go to Form -> Publish and click the Pre-populate tab, then highlight and copy the link.
  4. Go back to Form A, go to Form -> Notifications, and create your notification that will be sent to the approver. Add the email address into the To field, set any conditional logic necessary, then paste the pre-populate link into the message area along with the rest of your message.

Now we need to get the information from Form A into the link by replacing the placeholder text with the appropriate pipe codes. You can paste the link into a new browser window to see the item numbers then replace each placeholder with the item’s pipe code, for example:

https://www.formsite.com/url/form1/fill?4=YourValue4&5=YourValue5&6=YourValue6
https://www.formsite.com/url/form1/fill?4=[pipe:id10]&5=[pipe:id12]&6=[pipe:id13]

Check out our documentation pages if you need more help with using pipe codes and/or pre-populate links.

The final step is to test the system. Put your email address in the notification To field and complete Form A to receive the notification, then click the link to be sent to Form B with all of the fields complete. You can set up Form B’s notifications to send a message to the original form visitor to communciate the status (approved or not approved), or to any other email destination.

Connect forms automatically

Payment options

The special payment example is slightly different in that we don’t want the visitor to have to check his/her email in order to make the payment—we want it to be seamless. In that case, instead of sending the email notification we want to send the visitor to the payment form selected:

  1. Create Form A with the items you need, including order form items, calculation items, etc. In this example we’re adding a radio button asking if they want to pay in full or in 3 monthly payments.
  2. Set up the pay-in-full option on Form A using the settings under Form -> Payments. This is the default setup and will use Form A’s notifications and success page.
  3. Create Form B for the recurring payments. Add a Hidden Field item labeled Total Cost then add a Calculation item to calculate the payment amount, being sure to check the box next to Include in Order Total.
  4. Go to Form B’s Form -> Payments page and set up the recurring payment option. Be sure to set the frequency and the number of payments.
  5. Go back to Form A where we add the logic to either use Form A’s pay-in-full setup or Form B’s recurring payments. First, drag a Page Break item to the end of your form to add a page before the end of your form. This is necessary to tell the system to skip the default Order Summary screen and you can place any content you want on that last page, such as terms and conditions, information review, etc.
  6. Go to Form A’s Form -> Success Pages and create 2 success pages: 1 for the default pay-in-full success and the other set to the Redirect URL format. For the URL, use the same method outlined above to create the pre-populate link with the form values piped in pointing to Form B.
  7. The last step is to go to Form A’s Rules page and create a rule after the next-to-last page to skip to the Redirect Success Page when the answer is multiple payments.

That’s it! Of course, you should test it a few times to make sure it does what you expect, and you will want to customize the success pages and notifications.

Feel free to ask questions if any parts are unclear or if you need more help.

10 thoughts on “Connect forms and pass information for approvals, follow-ups, multiple payment options and more.

  1. Hi,I’m trying to create a *simple* 2-approver workflow: User fills out the PTO form, forwards to supervisor. Supervisor approves or doesn’t. If approved by supervisor forward to manager, etc. on to the person who puts it in the system. Ideally, if all-approved, it’s 3 linear hops, *with* return to origin if not approved. If at any stage it’s not approved, fallback to square-one. At each stage, all of the form information should be visible to facilitate approval.

    I’m not getting very far with this in Formsite, and am considering other products.

    • Hi, yes our Workflow is good for multi-step approvals. Where are you having trouble? Shoot a message to our support staff for help and they’ll gladly work with you to figure it out.

  2. Hello –
    We currently have an application we use set up through Formsite and I would like to know if there is a way to automatically send a reminder to the applicant if they have not completed the form within so many days. Is this possible? So if Joe applies but does not finish his application, can I automatically email Joe after a week to remind him that he should complete it?

    Thank you!

    • We don’t have a built-in way of doing that, but it’s a common request so I’ve added it to our development list for consideration in a future release. The difficulty is making the system check against something that hasn’t happened, which is much harder than responding when something does happen.

      There is the Mailchimp integration that may help. You can set it up to add the visitor to your email list then set up the Automation message to send the email based on when the recipient was added to the list. The tricky part will be removing them from the list if they have completed the form, which you may be able to do by setting up the API tools on your form’s success page or by manually removing them from the list.

      • This is a really helpful suggestion! We started using Mailchimp several months ago and I have found their interface more useful. However, I don’t have a clue how to setup the API tool to remove members from the list upon successful form completion. Is that something that would be through Formsite or Mailchimp?

        • That’s a good question. It would need to be a script on the Formsite success page that sends a request to Mailchimp with the API key and list ID hard-coded, then it would pass the piped-in email address for the form visitor. I haven’t been able to find how to do that easily so once I find it I’ll post an update here. Thanks, Bruce!

  3. Hi,

    I created a 3-step approval workflow and everything worked fine.
    1. Applicant fills in a first form providing details.
    That first form is mapped with the second form that goes to approver #2
    2. Approver #2 get an email notification with a link generated by the Workflow. By clicking that link s/he gets a pre-populated approval forms that also shows an empty approve/deny button item. If s/he approves on the second form then a final approval is requested on a third form.
    Second and third forms are mapped.
    3. Third (final) approver gets email notification from submission of the second approver. Email contains a link generated by a second workflow. Third form is pre-populated via mapping and also has button approve/deny button item for final approval.

    So far so good !

    BUT, for legal reasons, I need this process to meet 2 rules:
    1. Initial applicant must access the initial application form in a secure way via ID/password (which requires that Save & Return > Always Requires Login is set on ON)
    2. All the forms, from application to final approval, must show an ID that is passed from a form to the next one. The ID must be the same in all the forms in the process, unique to each process.
    Easiest way would be to pass the [pipe:reference_#] generated in the first form to the following forms but in the Form Mapping options, the reference_# does not appear in the list.
    Any suggestion to use the reference_# automatically generated in the first form (or any unique identifier automatically generated by the Formsite platform) as an identifier for the process ? Any other suggestion ?

    Thank you in advance

    • Hello, thanks for your comment. Yes, in order to get access to the reference number, the pipe code for the reference_# must be used in a form item. You can’t map a value unless it’s in a form item, so you should add a Hidden Field item to your form and set the Default Value to [pipe:reference_#].

  4. I’m trying to create an order form to accept payments. Where does the payment go when a user submits the order form?

    • To set up your form to collect payments you need to go to the form’s Form Settings -> Payments page and enable the payment processor you choose. The form visitor is automatically sent to the payment processor to complete the transaction, then the status us reported in your Formsite Results Table. The payment goes through your account with the payment processor. Read all about it at https://www.formsite.com/documentation/payments/. Thanks!