Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Joomla Contact Form Modules:

Every website needs a contact form and a Joomla CMS website is no exception. Joomla does have an existing built-in feature to create a contact form but there are other options as well. Associated Content has an informative article on how to work with contact forms in Joomla. The article is a descriptive tutorial on how to add, delete, edit, and unpublish a contact form. Joomla.org is the source to find as many as 39 contact form modules to choose from to plugin/addon to the Joomla website.

Since I am part of a group that is using Joomla version 1.6, the number of available choices is reduced to 13. Of those, 7 are commercial and 5 are free. Of those 5, 3 contact form modules are rated at 4.5 stars, 1 is rated at 4 stars and the last one has no stars. I have chosen to look at the three modules rated at 4.5 stars: Fox Contact Form, Rapid Contact, and Flexi Contact.



Fox Contact Form:


Fox Contact Form is my favorite because out of the three modules, it is the only one developed specifically for Joomla 1.6.  It was added to the Joomla website on March 10, 2011 and was last updated April 12, 2011.  It received a  4.84 out of 5.00 from 19 users and has 20 favored votes. There are glowing reviews of this module and where there were complaints in the comment section, the owner replied quickly with solutions. For a further example of the owner’s willingness to help, check out a forum discussion where he helps someone having problems getting this module and another module to work on GoDaddy. That person stated that he would “like to stick to Fox Contact Form.”

Fox Contact Form is tableless, css styled, and easy to install. One reviewer stated: “Installs without a problem and then the surprise: You open the component as usual to set it up and get the message that there is no set up necessary. Just assign a menu item and you are ready to go. If you want to do some adjustments or add some fields you can do it very easily right there in the menu item edit view. Never installed such a useful component and module which are so easy to set up!”

Features:

* Component and Module versions available. Unlike other similar extensions, you can have multiple component instances in the same site, and multiple module instances in the same page.
* Custom fields and upload capabilities
* Multiple recipients
* Antispam system
* Captcha system
* Multilanguage
* Logs all activities in a text file
* One click updates with Joomla 1.6 auto updater.



Rapid Contact:


Rapid Contact is my next choice of the three modules because it has the highest rating: 4.85 out of 5.00 from 62 users and has 35 favored votes. This module is very simple with only three fields: Email, Subject and Message; so if you don’t want any extra features, this one is useful. One user has put it in his Joomla Essentials folder and has used it on 20 sites without problems.

The owner offers a version with ReCaptcha that was added by a user. He asks to be contacted at mavrosxristoforos@gmail.com if anyone wants it. ReCaptcha is a form of captcha, which is a plugin that prevents bots from sending spam to the receiver’s email.  CAPTCHA: Completely Automated Public Turing test to tell Computers and Humans Apart.

Features:

Two simple steps:
1) Install,
2) change mail recipient and it works!

Additional Options:
* Anti-spam question-answer!
* Thank you page Redirect
* Custom Text




Flexi Contact:


Flexi Contact is also a great contact form module. It has a rating of 4.7 out of 5.00 from 64 users and has 46 favored votes. This module is also simple but is more flexible and offers more features than Rapid Contact.  One reviewer was impressed with the ability to add extra images. Another reviewer stated, “Not only is it simple to install, really clear to understand and complete setup, but html can also be entered into the text before or after the selected contact fields. This made it possible for me to keep the uniform look of my site.” That’s a good tip for designers.

Features:

* Configurable page header, page text, and page image
* Configurable field names: Five one-line fields, one list box, and one re-sizeable text area
* All fields can be optional, mandatory, or not shown
* Multi-language with many languages
* The user guide explains how to add your own language
* Optional auto-fill of email address and name or username for logged in users
* Keeps a log file of all contacts submitted
* The log file is viewable in the back end and includes the IP address of the sender

Optional simple captcha system. We don't want to discourage potential customers, so we use a simple picture based system, "Please click on the cat/dog/etc". You can easily add your own pictures to the image library.

Optional "magic word" system. The user must find and enter the correct magic word to send a message. You can make the magic word easy to find, or difficult.



Joomla’s Built-In Contact Form:


Joomla’s built-in contact form is what is found on most Joomla websites. It’s a default component with a simple email form. Kronikmedia discusses a problem and a solution for this contact form. The problem is that users are not redirected to a confirmation page. This article offers a written tutorial on how to redirect users and how to change the confirmation message. The solution involves the usage of php so beginners may want to be wary of this.

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