Build Expert Business Solutions With Formidable Forms

Build Expert Business Solutions With Formidable Forms
Comments Off on Build Expert Business Solutions With Formidable Forms, 25/08/2022, by , in Wordpress

Welcome to Press This, the WordPress community podcast from WMR. Here host David Vogelpohl sits down with guests from around the community to talk about the biggest issues facing WordPress developers. The following is a transcription of the original recording.

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David Vogelpohl: Hello everyone and welcome to Press This, the WordPress community podcast on WMR. This is your host, David Vogelpohl. I support the WordPress community through my role at WP Engine, and I love to bring the best of the community to you here every week on Press This. As a reminder, you can follow me on Twitter @wpdavidv, and you can subscribe to Press This on Red Circle, iTunes, Spotify, or download the latest episodes at wmr.fm. In this episode we’re going to be talking about something I find very interesting and actually something I’ve wanted to unpack for quite a while. That’s the notion of building expert business solutions and web applications with formidable forms. And joining us for that discussion from Victor font consulting. I would like to welcome divan Victor, welcome to Press This.

Victor Font: Well, thank you David. I’m really happy to be able to chat with you today.

DV: Yeah, same is same here I’ve been I’ve used formidable over the years and never quite to the degree I think it’s I know it’s capable of and became more aware of it. I think it was after awesome. Motive had invested in them and then started to understand a little bit more about that. But really for those listening, Victor is really into formidable farms in addition to running and operating printer farm consulting. He’s also operating the formidable mastermind, which we’ll hear a little bit more about later. He’s going to share his thoughts on why he believes strategy live in his spearheading a golden age of WordPress application development with formidable how formidable could be the go to codeless WordPress application development platform, not just making web pages and why he says that has never He has never seen a product is capable for building a web application. I’m really excited to unpack all this with you, Victor. I know a lot of folks have probably seen formidable around the way or using themselves and might not be fully aware of what’s all possible so really excited to unpack this. Before we get into that though. I’d like you to I’d like to ask you the same question. I asked all my guests. Could you briefly tell me your WordPress origin story? When was the first time you use WordPress?

VF: Probably back around 2009 2010 And I never intended to build a website for myself. I had no interest in doing it. But that’s the year of 2010 is when I published my first information technology book The Ultimate Guide to the system development lifecycle. And I was working with the managing editor of McGraw Hill technical book Division at the time. And she says well we don’t market authors. Get yourself a website, yourself on Twitter and Facebook and started with wordpress.com Oh, okay.

DV: So there’s kind of this this notion of necessity now, how do you build sites and other technology prior to that and obviously you were intact? Like have you built the site before

VF: I mean, we used to use ASP, you know, Microsoft tools and whatnot. And we build a lot of sites in the corporate level because I come from a corporate enterprise development environment. So we’ve done a lot of different tools but very, very high end tools.

DV: Yeah, web based tool. It’s not necessarily saralee A marketing site those two kind of blend over time and of course, that’s when a WordPress has strengths. But that was cool origin story that would have been right before. Custom Post Types and custom meta fields if I’m not mistaken. So a very serendipitous time for you to be getting in thinking about the ways you’re using formidable today, but I was wondering if you could also briefly tell me a little bit about Victor foreign consulting and formidable masterminds and what you do there?

VF: Well, certainly well, I’m the owner of both companies. In fact, Victor Fung consulting is the parent organization. And for years, we made our living building Genesis websites and I’ve been using formidable now for 11 of the 12 years that it’s been in existence. I tried everything else I tried, you know, the competitors major competitors out there and when I hit formidable it was a familiar environment to me for my enterprise development roles, because there were so many books that we can plug into, and so many different ways to achieve your objectives and software development so I really fell in love with it. My idea for some biddable masterminds actually came as a result of taking Troy Dean’s WP Elevation class and also having some mentoring experience with Christina Romero, who is the queen of care plans. So I’ve learned a lot from them and I know you recently had Troy as a guest on the podcast.

DV: I did I think it was the last episode actually. I always love talking to Troy and I could definitely see where he’d be an inspiration for where he were doing their

VF: formidable masterminds is it’s taken me three years to get it up and running to this to where it is today. I mean, I built a codex, there is no such thing as a codex for formidable anywhere. You think of any other form building tool out there, where can you look up functions and books quite easily just by searching for them. Nowhere. It’s unique. Plus formidable masterminds has the only dedicated, formidable developer directory we welcome anyone to sign up for the directory but if you don’t have experience with formidable masterminds, you cannot display your record in directory. But you can have access to the directory I mean to the programmer level content that we create for them

DV: Okay, so you have your vector font consulting, which is effectively to parent or and then you have an another company called minimal masterminds. And it’s really around developers, seeking to build better with formidable and guessing to trade ideas and strategies and things like that. And we know we’ve been talking about formidable as if everybody knows exactly what it is and I’m just curious for those unfamiliar, can you explain what formidable does in what you view the main business or build challenges that it solves?

VF: Formidable I have never met the requirement that businesses requested that I couldn’t satisfy using formidable forms. In fact, my background was formidable forms is when I first got out of the corporate world and got into freelance consulting. I worked on some major formidable projects for the US government for the US State Department and a couple of other agencies. Plus there, I was involved with building some incredibly intense business solutions and enterprise level that required workflows and hooking into HR systems to pull employee data through and I mean, there wasn’t a challenge I couldn’t solve with formidable you can build anything that you can imagine with it.

DV: So I mean, obviously maybe folks can think about it. Can you explain what the plugin does? I guess it does tell folks kind of imagine what you’re talking about because I’m guessing like you’re not building like a landing page exclusively with formidable as the core of it. Help people understand like what it does and how it functions.

VF: Okay. So formidable is primarily or it has been marketed for years as a form building tool, just like Gravity Forms or Ninja forms or any of the other form builders out there. But what the strategy 11 team has done is they’ve started to implement the vision to make this a tool for developers not only do we have this incredible ability to create data views now, but we can integrate all kinds of other jQuery or PHP libraries into it very simply, to build extensive dashboards that will rival the things we used to build in corporate with Crystal Reports. Plus, there’s all kinds of things you can do to integrate with external systems. When you’re talking about an enterprise level application, you need to be able to talk to systems that represent the single source of truth for any data element. WordPress is never usually the single source of truth for anything, but you can use links through formidable to pull in HR data to pull in data from accounting systems to pull all different kinds of data elements in from your corporate enterprise. system so that you can massage and represent that data in a readable fashion, in formidable in WordPress, to your administrative and executive teams as a dashboard.

DV: Okay, and then when you’re doing the custom integrations and logic behind you’re just pulling in the data into fields or is there how do you address plying logic or for functionality within that?

VF: Will most API’s today work on JSON? So now you know just a little bit about WordPress and the direction that WordPress is heading into as a front end development platform. It’s all JSON based, everything you’re doing now with your themes and everything else is using JSON. Well, things data that comes in through API is the same exact format. It’s JSON. Well, you’d have to do is massage it and feed into whatever forms whatever data elements you want. And and you know, the thing is, it’s not just the formidable tables that you can feed with formidable formidable uses the underlying WP DB object. So you can use any table that’s in a SQL database, or even external tables if you have to connect to ODBC. So there’s a lot of different ways that you can bring take the data into formidable and use it with their forms and with their views.

DV: So I want to kind of unpack a little bit about what you said, as we were kind of planning this episode and talking about the kind of new code approach that Corp formidable apply, provides. In this context. We’re going to take our first break, and we’ll be right back.

DV: Everyone welcome back to Press This WordPress community podcast on WMR. This is your host David Vogelpohl. I’m interviewing Victor Font about how to build expert business solutions with formidable forms. Victor right before the break you were talking a little bit about all the capabilities that formidable provides and that was, I think, very intriguing and interesting to hear how deep that it goes. But you kind of set up kind of getting into this episode of this this notion of like formidable maybe being the go to solution for codeless application development. And I’m just curious, like, Why do you think that it is or should be that?

VF: Well, let me tell you where that phrase came from that actually came to me from Steve wells, of formidable forms of strategy limit and he was saying that they had direction when they rolled out the Application Builder in formidable their their vision is to build a tool that developers can easily create applications packaged them and sell them as a revenue stream. And that’s exactly what we’re doing I formidable masterminds to. I don’t think that there’s any such thing as a truly codeless environment. I worked in too many environments to understand that nothing can truly be codeless. But when we’re saying in codeless application development, we’re talking about the ease in which it is to construct a package that you can produce and sell for yourself as a developer.

DV: What is an application in that context, then? Is it a color? Is it the entire WordPress instance? Is it a plugin? Is it something else like when you say you can package it and sell it? What do you mean by that?

VF: All right, and application is actually it’s not quite a full blown plugin that you would install as a plug in. This is a series of forms and views that you’ve created to solve a specific business problem that you export as an XML file and import into your new environment through the formidable import process.

DV: Say the Application Builder is functional. Is it inside of the formidable plugin is it a separate?

VF: Yes, it’s built into any pro I think. I want I don’t want I’m not sure if it’s in the basic but I think it really isn’t any pro license, but I could be wrong about that.

DV: So it allows you ultimately to build these applications this collection of views and objects and then export it and put it into new sites, either selling them or using them on your own and other sites and allows you to kind of scale that work into other either for to literally sell, or just in the different types of sites you’re building along the way.

VF: Yeah. I’ll give you an example right now. But something I’m releasing very shortly on formidable math masterminds. I’m releasing a W three C, accessibility Statement Generator application, formidable forms. Accessibility is a big deal today on every single website that is public facing you have to have some sort of accessibility statement on that site, because there’s just a lot of activists out there who are suing people for not having accessible websites. You have to show that you’re concerned about these issues that people are raising. So the accessibility statement was generated was preceded by the W three C and the W three C as you know, is the committee that defines web world wide web rules and so on and so forth. The WC three offers a tool a generator statement on their website. But it’s a one off session based on Li You can’t save it. You can’t edit it after you’ve created it. And it’s built in a platform called Jekyll. They’ll give you the software, their application as long as you build it in Jekyll. So we use the W St. Three C document license, which allows us to use their contents freely as long as we attribute it to them. So the W three C application generated because it’s formidable, is going to be great for agencies, we’re building websites. Think about it you only have one place to go and when things change you just edit it and republished the custom post. And what I’ve been able to do with this one is we will put a custom post together in either block format or legacy format, HTML. So this is what you can do and formidable as an application.

DV: And so an alternative path to achieving that outcome for a lot of folks would be when building a custom plugin or finding one that does it via the plug in or out.

VF: Exactly. And I am not aware of any plugin out there that does that. The W three C form is kind of complicated. And there’s a lot of help and things on there. So you’d have to build something very, very specific. So you know, now you have the ability to just use formidable and do what it does best and building things for your clients. And you can probably charge a pretty penny for building an accessibility statement for a client too. So, again, you’re giving people the tools that they could be successful and develop new revenue streams.

DV: Yeah, and they’re doing it in a more lightweight and less complex way than they might if they were to pursue, say a custom plugin to achieve something that wasn’t available in the repo or something or third party plugins.

VF: So basically,these events have to build a custom program, I mean, custom plugin.

DV: And just just to make sure everyone understands, like, obviously your accessibility journey doesn’t stop with the statement. There’s a lot more to it than Yeah, sure you’re implying that

VF: Absolutely. This is just a starting point.

DV: absolutely. Okay, cool. So you said it’s available in the pro version are there are there good, like demos out there? For folks that are interested in like checking out all the Application Builder works,

VF: they have well yet formidable themselves they have videos online on the formidable forms website that you can read about or see the Application Builder work.

DV: Okay, so let’s maybe switch it then to what you’re working on. Obviously here you’re building things with formidable and these applications within the form medical contacts. Can you give us a couple of examples? Of what you’re working on now or building with from from editable?

VF: Yeah, I’m actually working right now. I have a couple of different enterprise things going on. I have a financial organization. I’m doing a interactive chart on the front end that’s driven by formidable data, you change the drop down value, and the charts will update with new future value calculations. So that’s one thing that I’m working on and that’s going to be that’s for a private company. I’m also working with another company in Nashville regional telecom. And we’re actually going to build an enterprise level website driven by their marketing department. But it’s also going to be tied into industry specific back end systems. It’s it’s a very complex project.

DV: And so these were good fits are formidable because of the integrated aspect, the complexity and showing different types of data that you’ve been integrated with is that

VF: And even on our own website, little masterminds. We use easy digital downloads for art download tool. And they have this front end developer storefront and yeah, it’s a it’s a storefront, and I’m allowing developers in the directory to open up their own storefronts, but I’m driving everything out of formidable even though it’s coming from Easy Digital Downloads as the back end tool. The developer dashboard and everything else is a formidable view that I’ve created to work with easy digital downloads and, and WordPress.

DV: It’s giving me that escape. Route. Like I wish EDD did x in terms of seeing the data and so it’s kind of that bridge between x and what it provides natively, at least in that context.

VF: Exactly. And the beauty of it is because EDD is object oriented and fungible, I can call functions directly from EDD and and tie them into formidable and it’s just really beautiful way of doing things. But again, this kind of stuff requires real code.

DV: Right, right, right. But even though it requires real code, you find that using it in concert with formidable cuts out a lot of real code it does.

VF: I tried to use formidable functions wherever possible, because it just makes things a whole lot easier. There are some things that you have to do, especially when you get into enterprise level and you dealing with hundreds of 1000s of records. performance can suffer a little bit unless you can tweak the database and if you’re not, I don’t know if you’re familiar with the WordPress database schema, wait posts and post meta is stored but formidable uses a similar schema. And it doesn’t make good opportunity for operational data reporting, or, or like a data warehouse type thing. But if you know how to build this stuff in, in SQL using views or creating custom tables, you can actually use those views and custom tables to represent data and display data in from

DV: very interesting. So I’m curious though a little bit about the future and what you think the future holds for for medical and I guess, people building with it, but we’re gonna take our last break and we’ll be right back.

DV: Everyone welcome back to Press This WordPress community podcasts on WMR. We’re talking about building expert business solutions with formidable and we’re discussing this with Victor find. Victor right before the break you were giving us some examples of some things that you’ve built with for medical and some of the benefits you found there. I’m just curious, where do you see the future formidable going and how does that relate to how you’re thinking about for medical masterminds or your business in general, with little masterminds?

VF: And dictaphone consulting we? We’re not building just standard web sites anymore. We’ve dropped that completely from our our inventory. We do have some website care clients, we still do. But everything that we’ve been doing lately is about building expert business solutions to help people solve their business problems. And these are large projects. I mean, typically, you know, one that just got put on hold. past December is probably going to end up in the 50 to $75,000 range, you know, you can build the applications if you know what you’re doing. It’s not uncommon to have an enterprise app that can easily cost the company 150 to $200,000 of your time, and this is your pocket money, but you have to be confident with it and my goal with formidable masterminds is to help people achieve the competency they need to be successful with a tool that’s as capable as for minimal. We’re generating a lot of content and we’ve given it out for free. Yeah, and the only thing that and because of my background with WP Elevation and what I do in the corporate world. I’m applying enterprise level development techniques to what we’re doing with the middle and I’m publishing how to do this stuff.

DV: So as I think of like agencies or freelancers and you know, I think even back to my own agency and I remember we did a blend of maybe kind of like marketing website and web application development in a variety of approaches, including WordPress, and I always found the application work a little bit first off, you write about the budget size being very high there, but I also found it to be a bit less stressful. Because it was so precise what you’re trying to achieve. versus you know, people’s view of our marketing site would kind of come to life do you do you find that and then the work you do?

VF: Absolutely. I think the better the requirements, the better the product and the more interesting it is for me

DV: Well, I think you hit on another. You hit a nail on the head there, the better the requirements, while it was maybe the biggest budgets of the things we did and maybe in a lot of cases, it was a lot easier. It’s a lot of different ways than the brochure sites. It could also go a lot more wrong is that which would you find?

VF: On those large projects, you got to remember, I was a corporate IT director where I had to develop those requirements. And you know, we use the business analysis, business analyst body of knowledge as our guide for how to put good requirements. Together and everything else. So you know, when I do the requirements, you get complete requirements that I can hand over to any corporate development team and they’ll be able to build a product.

DV: Not every clients like you, Victor like I do that I know but

VF: on enterprise level applications, that’s the job I do for them.

DV: I see like they pay me for that. I gotcha, gotcha. Okay. So but I guess in general, though, you found it to be a big part of your of your I’m sorry, you’ve made basically your entire business that What about the future of formidable

VF: I’d really like to know and one of the people that you should probably talk to about that is Stephanie and Steve Wells from formidable they don’t usually publish their timelines. I’m lucky in that I have a casual relationship with Steve wells, and we chat every once in a while and he gives me ideas of what they’re where they’re heading. And I know that he definitely is, wants to build this application platform for developers. I know that there are some shortcomings. I don’t really there’s some things that I wish were in the application package or that they just released. For example, you can’t use external files, jQuery or PHP files, there’s no way to package them. So and doesn’t also like if you’re using lookup tables, it doesn’t package the data that goes along with the lookup table. So I would like to see that package here a little bit more refined. So that might work better with code snippets are one of the other tools that we use in WordPress for storing external files.

DV: Okay, so this this is a meaningful features improvements. I definitely understand not announcing your roadmap with timelines and lighting of views that can be hard to put out later. But it’s really interesting for folks who are curious about reaching out to connect or to learn more about from local masterminds, where where should they go?

VF: Well, come visit us on Facebook. I’ve got a formidable masterminds group. Anyone can join if as long as you had a record in Facebook for the last couple of months. So join, see what it’s about. That’s all I can do. And you’re all invited.

DV: Excellent. Excellent. Well, thank you so much, Victor. This was very interesting.

VF: Well, I’m so glad I was able to participate. Thank you, David, very, very much.

DV: Thank you as well and thanks everyone else for listening to press. This is the WordPress community podcast on WMR. Again, this has been your host David Vogelpohl. I support the WordPress community through my role at WP Engine. And I love to bring the best of the community to you here every week on Press This.

About Vikram Rout

Vikram Rout has been a blogger, digital marketer and an SEO expert at Pixxelznet.com, one of the fastest growing custom design crowdsourcing platforms. Over the years, he has been helping small businesses and startups improve website design and SEO strategy, content marketing and user experience. You can engage with him on here.