Caldera Forms Heartbeat Report

The Next Step For Caldera: Together With Saturday Drive

By Quay Morgan

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Wondering what’s going on with Caldera Forms? We’ve been way too quiet lately. That’s about to change.

We’ve done an incredibly bad job of communicating with you since the transition of Caldera Forms into Saturday Drive. Press release, then crickets. Please accept our apologies for that and understand it’s about to change.

We’re really excited about the future of Caldera Forms, and have a clear vision of how Caldera Forms and Ninja Forms will not just coexist and continue to grow into the future, but complement one another in a way that’s very cool and unique in the WordPress space. I’ll unpack that thought more in a minute, but…

Recent support conversations and a stroll through the Caldera Forming Facebook group brought crashing home just how bad a job we’ve done of keeping you in the loop. I’m seeing some common questions and concerns that are very legitimate given the combination of the Saturday Drive transition and the radio silence that followed.

Below, we will share what we’ve done so far, what we’re working on now, down the road, and address some of the questions and concerns you’ve voiced in Caldera Forming. Beyond that, expect more regular updates from us in the future!

We want Caldera Forms to be the most developer friendly form builder in the WordPress ecosystem.

With Ninja Forms, we always tried to ride the line between user-centric and developer-centric. Caldera Forms began as very developer-centric, and began to evolve more user-centric features, mostly as services. Instead of continuing to go broad with both plugins, our vision is to make them both specialists.

Caldera Forms has always shined as a tool for developers, and its future will be as a WordPress form builder purpose made for WordPress developers, but accessible to the average user that nonetheless prefers it. Vice Versa for Ninja Forms.

Here’s what we’ve been up to so far

  1. Moved development resources over to Caldera Forms to begin learning the codebase and get down to business.
  2. De-coupled services from products, which makes the add-ons themselves cheaper.
  3. Simplified the pricing tiers to make it easier to compare membership plans (each tier includes unlimited site licenses. Will update page to reflect that soon. Thanks for the catch, Lexi)
  4.  Added a “master license”, which can be used for each add-on in the plan, eliminating the need to enter different license keys for each add-on.

Next up, bug fixes and better licensing

Before we begin adding features to Caldera Forms, we need to address the technical debt that exists in the plugin. We’re going to be shoring up the foundation before adding extra rooms, so to speak.

Yes, we know we’ve added some bugs with the last couple launches. We hate that and are really sorry for the extra headache. It’s a factor of Ninja Forms devs learning and operating within a new codebase. More on this below.

Down the road? New features that will extend Caldera Forms’s utility as the #1 WordPress form builder for developers.

This is where the fun begins, and where your feedback will be especially valuable. As we move into this phase of our plans, expect us to start bugging you about all the things you’d like Caldera Forms to do, or to do better.

We look forward to the Caldera Forms user base growing, but right now you are Caldera Forms, and your feedback moving into this stage will be invaluable in helping shape the future of the plugin. Look for additional communication soon on this, as we’ll want to start collecting this data well before we lock down that this phase will look like.

Here are answers to some of the common questions/concerns we’re hearing voiced so far.

First, a huge thanks to J.R. and Nils for getting these concerns on our radar. We’ve had our heads down working on nuts-and-bolts type stuff behind the scenes and completely dropped the ball on communicating to you what’s happening. They gave us the kick in the rear we needed to realize that, and appreciate it very much 🙂

The last few releases have introduced bugs.

No excuses here. They have. We’ve moved developers from the Ninja Forms team to the Caldera team to help lay the groundwork for future plans and work through kinks that need sorted out. There’s a learning curve in learning an entirely new codebase, even for very experienced developers, and these are an artifact of that process. Expect less and less of this kind of thing to slip through with each development cycle, and we’re very sorry you have to deal with them at all.

Support is taking forever to respond!

We understand that this has been a pain point for a while. We’ve always done our best with Ninja Forms to never let a request go more than 24 hours without a response, and we’re working towards the same standard for Caldera.

The challenge is in shifting team members to Caldera support and having those team members learn the plugin on a level that lends itself to be able to efficiently assist with requests. It takes time, and we’ll get better at it! We’re looking forward to having a much larger and knowledgable support team dedicated to Caldera as soon as we’re able to make that happen. It’s a process.

Plugins have disappeared from WordPress.org, what the heck?

First, know that if you have one of these plugins installed that it will keep right on working for you. You will not lose that plugin’s functionality. These features are still available in, and will be updated through, Caldera’s membership plans.

Here’s the logic behind this decision.

The free plugins were a hit, we know. In fact, Caldera forms has even been referred to as the “free-est” form builder for WordPress:

Unfortunately, this model has resulted in two very major problems:

  1. Single feature plugins scattered everywhere in the repo and not associated with the plugin in the one place that is supposed to represent the full “truth” of what the plugin offers: CalderaForms.com
  2. The Caldera team has not had the financial resources it’s needed to reinvest into the support, development, and maintenance of the plugin.

This change brings all Caldera Forms features under one roof on CalderaForms.com. It offers those features at a price point that is readily affordable to the average developer. It also enables us to devote the support and development resources required for Caldera Forms to receive the love it needs and to flourish into the future.

What’s this talk about a converter between Ninja Forms and Caldera Forms?

We want to offer an easy path for current Ninja Forms users to say “Hey… turns out Caldera is a better fit for me and my clients, I want to make the switch.” Same for current Caldera Forms users wanting to move to a more user-centric tool. That’s it.

Please add your voice to the future of Caldera Forms, and we’ll be doing a lot more to share ours with you!

Our team works in 6 week build cycles followed by 2 weeks of “cool down”, a period of knocking out short projects and shaping up longer ones for the next build cycle. Our next cycle, and perhaps even several cycles, will be devoted to addressing technical debt within the plugin: bugs and licensing issues that we know are a pain for almost every Caldera Forms user.

After that, the plan right now is to start enriching the Caldera Forms builder with more of the features you need to be successful. Your voice will be invaluable in determining the direction we take when we get to that phase of development.

In the not-so-distant future I’m going to look into putting together surveys where you can give voice to the features you want to see brought to life in Caldera, and give us feedback on what we have in mind as well. We’ll also be putting together an email segment for those of you that would like to have email updates on what’s happening with the state of the plugin.

In the near term, I’m going to make a habit of posting these Caldera Forms Heartbeat Reports as new information becomes available. That will be at least as often as the completion of every build cycle, and perhaps more often if there’s news in between build cycles. Our next cycle begins the first week of January as we wind this one down and take a long cool down over the holidays.

Again, please accept our sincere apologies for the long radio silence, and the growing pains we are all feeling as we adapt. We are looking forward to a long and successful future for Caldera Forms, hope you will join us in that journey, and especially hope that Caldera Forms continues to help make your own mission a successful one!

Please feel more than welcome to speak up in the comments below. Are there any pains or concerns that I did not address? Questions about the future of Caldera Forms? Just want to grump at me for being a jerk and not talking to you for so long? We’re listening! 🙂

4 thoughts on “Caldera Forms Heartbeat Report”

  1. My biggest complaint is the advertisement in the admin section confuses my clients into thinking they have to pay to use the form. It’s distracting and pushing me away from it. Does it show on the pro version too?

    1. Hey! I don’t see this as I’m digging through the plugin in my local. Would you mind pointing me towards it? That ought to be simple enough to reword with our next update once I can find the darn thing 🙂

  2. I use CF because it satisfies one big need. It allows me to save the form data as a CPT. I then use other plug ins to display the CPTs (PODS Framework and Barn2 Media Posts Table Pro).

    But, I don’t necessarily WANT to use all these plugins to achieve what I wish. So long as I can do what I want then a smaller number of components is always better.

    The site is for people who wish to apply to a charity for assistance. So, they need to complete an application form. This is where I use CF.

    I then need the grants committee to be able to review that application on the Front End (all people who are not technical and would view the back end as Dracula views crosses and garlic). So, this is where CF creates a CPT with reference to the layouts captured within PODS. I then use Posts Table Pro to create a list of the applications and when they select one it uses the PODS template to display. I then use standard WordPress comments and a simple voting plugin Yop Poll to allow them to vote.

    So, they need to be able to:

    1. See the application and review the data
    2. To add a comment which could be a request for more info in which case someone has to pick up that request and deal. Or it could just be their feelings on the application.
    3. They then need to vote on the application – to refuse, to grant in full or to grant in part. If the last, then they insert a figure. This last might be some days after the first 2 steps. So, after new info has been received.
    Once they have all reviewed and voted, then the application moves to the next stage.

    So, if the review needs more information, what I would like to do is for an email to be sent to the applicant and for them to add more info. So,to recall the form along with the data entered and change or augment what they have submitted. Then to resubmit but for this NOT to be a new application.
    After such resubmission, the committee need to be aware to review once more and to do the same. So, a further email or similar on receipt of change. One would hope that they wouldn’t need more info but it is possible.

    So, what I would like is for the form to be editable but to retain it’s identity. Now, whether you did that by editing the entries that you hold, or by reading the CPT would be for you to decide.

    But it is the overall solution that I need. Yes, I expect to do some of the work as I couldn’t expect all of that in a package, but you need to consider why people want a form in the first place.

    They wish to capture data and it is a common need to be able to edit that data (name and address change for example) and put it back.

    So, I would like to see CF load the data into the CPT and then allow edit of the CPT data and put it back within the same instance of the CPT (same post_id). You could do versioning as well I guess like WP does but that wouldn’t be essential for me.

    Another thought is to use Messenger apps instead of email. Whats App, Facebook, SMS Texts and similar.

    Finally, thanks for your post on CF on Facebook and the blog post above. I was just about to start reviewing Gravity and Formidable as alternatives.

    And, the worst bit about Caldera at present is the support. In my experience it is extremely slow and arduous. Any improvement would be helpful. The FB group is often quicker with people helping each other.

    Cheers

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