Forms: Introduction and Setup

Forms are currently in beta. They're 100% functional but we're limiting access to them so we can gather more information about how our customers will use them. If you'd like us to turn on Forms for your school during this beta phase, please write to Populi Support.

Forms let you collect information from respondents at your school or elsewhere. You could use them for nearly anything; here are some examples:

  • Alumni surveys to gauge interest in fundraising events
  • Dorm room maintenance requests
  • Parking permit application
  • Course substitution requests filled out by an advisor on behalf of a student
  • Application for internal scholarships
  • Academic program change requests...

...and so on.

Forms are created and managed in Home > Forms.

  • Below you'll find instructions for how to create a new form.
  • This article describes how to send the form to respondents and process the responses.

Creating a new form

To create a new form:

  1. Go to Home > Forms and click the Manage Forms link.
  2. Click Add a Form.
  3. Give the form a name.
  4. Click Save.
  5. You'll be taken to the form's page, where you can begin to add fields and configure its settings.

Managing access to the form

"Access" to a form refers to whether a staff user at your school is able to view, edit, or manage the form and its responses (it does not refer to the kind of access a respondent would need to fill out the form).

If the form is not accessible to you or one of your user roles, you will not be able to view, edit, or manage it! Make sure that when you manage access (see below), one of your roles has the appropriate access level, or give yourself Manage access.

  • To access a form at all, a person must be an active user at your school and have the Staff role.
  • Manage form means the user can update the form, edit form access, add/edit notifications, send form requests, regenerate the form's URL, add/edit categories, and delete/retire the form.
  • Manage responses lets the user process responses.
  • Edit form gives the user the ability to update the form's fields and settings.
  • View form and responses lets the user view the form and responses, but not make any changes or requests.
  • Request responses lets a user send form requests.

You can give form access to people with particular user roles or individual staff members. To manage access to the form:

  1. Click Manage access.
  2. Choose the user role to which you wish to give access, or search for individual staff users.
    • By default, all Staff users can access all forms. If you choose, for example, Academic Admin, you will limit access to users with the Academic Admin role.
  3. Choose the access level.
  4. When you're done, click Save.

Form settings

The form's settings determine how it will work for respondents and how you'll be able to use it.

  • Link/Embed Code: Once you publish a form, Populi will generate a link that you can send to respondents when you request a form response. If you do not require a login, Populi will generate an embed code that lets you include the form in an external web page. See below for more information about the Published and Login Required settings. Below the embed code you'll have an option to get a QR code for the form. People can use their smartphone's camera (or a QR scanner app) to scan the code and go directly to the form.
    1. Click Get QR Code.
    2. Modify the code's appearance as desired—you can change the color, add/remove the Populi logo, change the size, and change the module types.
    3. When you're ready, click Download.
    4. An .SVG file will download to your computer. You can then incorporate the QR code into any kind of printed matter.
  • Published: Only published forms can accept responses. Otherwise, they're in Draft mode and only available to users with Manage or Edit access (see above).
    • Once a form is published, you can choose to list it in the "Self-service" area in Home > Forms. This will let any logged-in user fill it out without you needing to send them a response request (provided, of course, that the form is available—availability is managed in the Accept Responses setting).
  • Accept Responses: Once published, the form can accept responses...
    • Yes: Anyone with access to the form's link can submit a response to it.
    • By request: Someone with Read access (or better) to the form must send a request to respondents to fill out the form.
    • For Yes and By Request, you can set an availability period for the form.
    • No: The form will be closed off from responses altogether.
  • Login required: Yes requires respondents to log in before filling in the form. Form responses are automatically linked to the user who responded. If you select No, and no login is required...
    • Respondents will be able to initiate a response to the form wherever the form is embedded or its generic link is provided (see Link/Embed code, above).
    • Populi generates an embed code that lets you include the form in an external web page. You'll also see the Custom CSS setting further down in the settings.
    • If you send a form request to a Populi user, the user will still need to log in if they access the form via the request's URL.
    • Forms will include a Captcha in the event that too many attempts are made to fill out the form in a given timeframe. This is a security measure that should seldom, if ever, affect respondents.
  • Respondent Permissions: This controls whether the form respondent can submit a response on behalf of another person. For example, you might have a course substitution form that advisors fill out on behalf of their advisees.
    1. In the edit dialog, choose a role—users with this role will be given specific permissions with this form.
    2. Choose what kind of responses this role may submit.
    3. If the role can submit responses on behalf of someone else, choose the roles or people for whom they may do that. Your options here will depend on the role to which you're giving permissions.
    4. Remove a permission by clicking .
    5. Click Save to finish.
  • Available to: By default, forms can be filled out by anyone (more or less). If you'd like to restrict the form's availability to users with particular user roles, select those roles in this setting.
  • Anonymous: If set to Yes, this hides all identifying information about the respondent from all users.
  • Response review: When a user with Manage responses access to the form is processing responses, what kind of review are they giving? Decision lets them approve or reject the form and individual fields; Review lets them mark the form Completed.
  • Limits: If you wish to limit the number of responses to the form—whether per-user or for the form as a whole—here's where you set that limit!
  • Description: In the event that you're listing the form for self-service, enter a description that will appear in Home > Forms.
  • Fee: Requires the respondent to pay a fee before submitting their responses; you can choose to allow student respondents to charge the fee to their accounts.
  • Discount Codes: If you've set up a fee for the form, you'll be given the option to create one or more discount codes. You can go with the auto-generated random-character code, or enter your own, together with the discount amount/percent and start/end dates for when it will be valid.
  • Custom CSS: CSS (Cascading Style Sheets) is a programming language that lets you change the look and feel of a website. If you do not require a login for the form, you can enter your own CSS here to better integrate an embedded form in your school's website. We recommend that an experienced programmer compose the CSS in another editor and copy-paste it into this field. Improperly-composed CSS can render the form unusable, so take special care with this field!
  • Thank you message: After the form is submitted, you can choose to display a custom "Thank you" message to the respondent. Use the WYSIWYG editor to compose the message; you can also include an optional file that the respondent can download from the "Thank you" screen.
  • Redirect URL: This sends the respondent from the "Thank you" screen to another web page automatically.
  • Default Localization: Choose a localization if you wish to translate the form's interface elements for non-English-speaking respondents.
  • Categories: Categories help you classify your forms.

Designing your form

Forms consist of fields, headings, and text that are organized into one or more pages. Here's a look at the controls for adding and sorting elements:

  • Add a field lets you add either a linked field or a regular field, which are both explained in greater detail below. Fields are what you use to collect information from respondents.
  • Add heading or Add text lets you add headings and text to help organize and explain the form's fields.
  • Add a page starts a new page on which you can continue the form. Pages are handy for making longer forms easier to use and navigate for respondents.
  • Add any of the above right below an existing form element.
  • Click and drag this symbol to reorder form elements.
  • Edit the form element or delete it.

Linked fields

Linked fields let you collect information from respondents that update some built-in profile fields as well as various custom information fields.

  1. Click Add a field or and select Linked field.
  2. Select the field for which you'd like to collect information.
    • The Person fields update information on Profile > Info.
    • The Name field, if set to Required, will require at least a first and last name. Other name fields, like Prefix, etc. are always optional. (If you will want to link responses to people, make sure you use the Name linked field!)
    • The various Custom field options update the corresponding areas on the person's profile. Student fields, for example, update Profile > Student > Student Info.
  3. Check if the field should be Office Use Only. These fields may only be filled out by someone reviewing form responses; they may be visible to respondents or you can keep them Hidden (see below). For example, you could have an Office Use Only field on a course substitution request form that records whether you approved or denied the request; the respondent can then look at his form to see your decision.
  4. Check if the field should be Hidden from respondents—these will be available for your own internal use to staff users when reviewing form responses. For example, you could have a hidden field on a course substitution request form that records why you approved or denied the request.
  5. Check if the field should be Required—without a complete response to all required fields, the form cannot be submitted.
  6. Check if you wish to hold responses For Review. This lets you approve or reject responses.
    • Choose when to update the linked field on the respondent's profile—when the answer has been accepted or when the answer is accepted and the form response status has been set to Completed.
  7. When you're done, click Save.

Fields (non-linked)

Fields let you survey and collect information from respondents. The information from regular fields is not directly imported to respondents' profiles, nor does it trigger changes elsewhere in Populi.

  1. Click Add a field or and select Field.
  2. Give the field a Name (required) and a Description (optional).
  3. Select the field type (see below).
  4. Depending on the type you select, you'll see different options (labels, statements, etc.). These options are described below with the question types.
  5. Check the options you'd like for Office Use Only, Hidden, Required, and Hold for review.
  6. Click Save when you're finished.

Field types

  • Short answer and Paragraph: Collect free-form text responses.
  • Multiple choice: Respondents choose one answer from several. Type the answer options in the field in the order in which you'd like them presented.
  • Checkboxes: Respondents choose one or more answers from several. Type the answer options in the fields and indicate the maximum number of answers respondents can select.
  • Dropdown: Respondents choose one answer from several. Type the answer options in the fields in the order you wish them to appear in the drop-down.
  • Yes/No: Respondents check Yes or No in response to your statement.
  • Likert: Respondents evaluate a number of individual items or statements on a kind of sliding scale. Here's an example. To set up this type of question:
    1. Enter the names of the columns—typically, these would be phrases expressing the respondent's evaluation of the statements (Interested, Not interested, Good, Poor, etc.).
    2. Rows contain the statements or items you'd like respondents to evaluate. Enter as many columns as you like.
  • Put in order: Respondents put a jumbled list in order.
  • Date: Give your respondents a field with a datepicker calendar.
  • Number: Requires a numerical answer; you have options to set a minimum and maximum value.
  • File upload: Allow respondents to upload files to the field; you can specify a maximum number of files they can upload (the default is one file).
  • Signature: Respondents can type or draw their signature in the field.

Conditional fields (and other form elements)

When a previous field has pre-defined answer options (multiple choice, checkboxes, dropdown, yes/no), you can set up a subsequent field, heading, text box, or page to appear depending on the response to that previous field. These are called conditional fields. For example, you ask about the respondent's academic program (Undergraduate or Graduate); if they answer "Undergraduate", you can then ask about their degree (Bachelors, Associate's, Certificate).

Here's how to add a conditional form element. The instructions here assume that your form already has at least one field with pre-defined options.

  1. Add a new field (either kind of field works—linked and not-linked) or other form element.
  2. Fill out the element's details and options as you would any other.
  3. In the list of options at the bottom (Required, etc.), you'll see Conditional. Check that box.
  4. A new part of the dialog will appear: this lets you define the conditions under which this element will appear to the respondent.
    • Choose whether to show this section when any or all of the conditions match.
    • In the dropdowns, pick from the previous fields and their answer options.
    • You can add multiple conditions and additional condition groups. If you have multiple condition groups, the field will appear when each of the condition groups has been checked. In this example, the field will appear only when the respondent answers "Undergraduate" AND either his advisor is "Carmen Othello" OR his major is "Literature".
  5. When you're done, click Save.

Here's how to add a conditional page (again, assuming your form already has at least one field with pre-defined options):

  1. At the top of your page, click and select Edit Page.
  2. Check next to Conditional.
  3. Set up your conditions and click Save.


After your form is composed, you can then set up notifications that will let you and others know when certain events happen—for example, a new form submission. These are set up in Forms > Notifications.

Important note! In order to email form response requests to respondents, you must create a notification with the following:

  • The Event must be Form Response Requested.
  • The Notification must be Send an email to a specified address.
  • The body of the notification must contain the Respondent URL variable.

You can add as many notifications as you like to each form. To set up a new notification:

  1. Click Add a notification.
  2. Choose the Event. You can trigger a notification when a form response is submitted or requested or when a note is left on a response.
  3. Choose the Notification.
    • You can email one or more specific email addresses.
    • Or you can email specific people or groups of people at their primary email address.
  4. When you're done, click Save.

Once you click Save, you can start adding details to your notification. Your options will be a little different depending on what you selected for the Notification type.

  • Just about all the fields let you click to add a variable, all of which should be self-explanatory.
    • Your variable options will depend on what you selected for Event and Notification.
    • You can insert variables into other lines of text. For example, you could write "Person's Name has just submitted a response to Form Name. View the response here: Internal URL". Just take care to add spaces before and after each in-text variable you use!
  • Enter email addresses and/or select specific recipients who'll receive the notification.
  • Use the WYSIWYG editor to compose the notification.

After adding the notification details, you can click to edit it or to delete it. You can also toggle between Active and Paused if you'd like to pause the notification for a period of time.

Once your form is set up to your liking, you can start soliciting responses for it.

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