Replacing Caldera Forms with Forminator

Forminator gets my vote to replace Caldera Forms

Sooooo….

Towards the end of March, we found out that Caldera Forms would be discountinued at the end of 2021.  Caldera was not the most popular WordPress forms plugin out there, but it sure should have been.  As far as what you got for free, I don’t think anything else really compared.  Ninja Forms was close and it was Ninja forms that bought them and told us that they’d be keeping Caldera around.  It’s not that I think that they were insincere but from my vantage point, it sure sounded naive.  The market for WordPress forms plugins is already pretty glutted so I couldn’t see how there was enough distinction between the two products to make them both viable – and apparently they see it now too.

So I went out searching for what plugin I could use to replace the Caldera Forms that I’d already created on different sites.   I was wanting to find another free alternative, but I’d used things like conditional processing and multi-page/step forms and lots of fields, etc.  Ninja Forms did come close but where it didn’t work, the price for paid options jumps significantly (typically around $50/per add-on/per site).

I looked at: Ninja Forms, Fluent Forms, Formidable Forms, WP Forms, Cognito, Form Maker, Smart Forms and Forminator.

I did not look at Gravity Forms because they don’t have a free option.  I did not look at Contact Form 7 because they don’t have a drag ‘n drop builder (and the 3rd party plugins that purport to offer it don’t create a great WYSIWYG experience (IMHO).  Contact Form 7 + extra free plugins does create a compelling option in some respects – but not really when you consider…

Forminator (by WPMU DEV)

I’d say that I still prefer Caldera but Forminator is a very compelling choice.   If you’re needing to switch from Caldera and free functionality is important to you, I’d say look no further than Forminator.  There simply is not (at least in my searching) anything that comes close to what Forminator offers for free.  The other options were all limited in some way or another.  In fact, WPMU DEV makes their money on a subscription model to their services and plugins.  Their hook is a freemium model on some of their plugins but some of their plugins are completely free.  Forminator is one of those.  That means that they are offering for free a plugin that has premium features.  It also means that their business model is not limited to selling their forms plugin (like Caldera was).  It’s more diversified.  While WPMU DEV has retired plugins before, Forminator has a roadmap, so one could hope that that speaks of longevity.

I use Divi on all the sites where I used Caldera and I used the Divi Supreme Lite plugin on them because it has a Caldera Forms module.   This made styling the form so much easier. I’ve already written Divi Supreme, lobbying to have them replace their Caldera styling module with one for Forminator.  I’ve already replaced one Caldera Form that had been styled using the Divi Supreme module and it was annoying to have to use other methods of styling and not have as much flexibility.  So the conversion is not all smooth sailing but I still feel that this is the right choice given the options available.

The mysteriously constipated ADSL router

Recently I’ve experienced reeeeeeaaaaaallllllyyyyy slow load times for anything at wordpress.com and wordpress.org, including all wordpress.com individual blogs. They would finally load but with no formatting. So obviously something was getting gummed up in the works. I’ve solved the problem finally and so I’ll share my experience in hoping that it will help someone else.

Here’s my process of discovery and solution:

  • It’s only happening on these WordPress-hosted sites. Everything else is loading fine.
  • My Firefox has tons of addons so I load up IE and Google Chrome to see if it’s the browser messing up. Nope. Same results with other browsers.
  • I look at the Net tab of Firebug in Firefox to see what is not loading. I notice that s0.wp.com, s1.wp.com, s2.wp.com and s.wordpress.org are not loading. These all resolved to 93.184.220.20 for me.
  • I lookup “slow loading s0.wp.com” on Google and even in the recent posts there is not unanimous agreement that there is a “general” problem or outage.
  • We have K9 Web filtering on some computers but not others. I try wordpress.com on a non-filtered Windows box and on a headless linux box (a simple wget). Nope. Same results.
  • I do a traceroute/tracert. No problem. Works fine.
  • I can ping both the ip address and the domain
  • We use OpenDNS and its cache check page had no problems
  • I have access to a windows box via VNC that has a different ISP and it worked fine
  • I have access to a linux server at large French hosting service and via Webmin’s HTTP tunnel it worked fine

Process of elimination points to our house and not a specific computer or operating system in our house. What’s left? My Neuf box (SFR) ADSL router. Everything looks fine in its web interface, including its ability to ping and traceroute. It caught my eye that the uptime for my router was 51 days. This problem with WordPress I had noticed, maybe 2 weeks ago. In the past, I’ve had speed issues every once in a while and have discovered that rebooting the router can fix some of them. So, on a whim I thought I’d just reboot the router.

That fixed it. So I’m not sure exactly WHAT was the problem in the router that screwed up HTTP traffic to a single IP but not other traffic, but perhaps this will save you some time if you encounter something similar.








Testing Wordbook…

Okey-dokey, this is simply a quick test post to see if my WordPress-to-Facebook plugin Wordbook is actually functioning correctly.  Besides that, I’d actually like to see HOW it functions.  If this works and shows up…well that would mean that all past posts will not be automatically stuck on my Facebook mini-feed…which I suppose is a good thing.  Voilà…(that’s French for “voila”) 😉








Blogging Frontiers…

Well, I’ve been blogging now (very sporadically) for around 9 months. When I set out, I didn’t want to simply toss my hat in the myriad of hosted blogging rings (blogger, xanga, wordpress, typepad, etc.). We have a very nice web hosting package with POWWEB…that we pay for…and we’re nowhere near exhausting its limits. I’m not a big fan of multiplying the URLs with which I’m associated. I pay for a domain and a web hosting package, so I’d like to use it! ;c)

When I started, I didn’t really have any experience with the various blogging packages that could be installed on your web site (the plethora of PHP-based open-source offerings, etc.) So, I sought a client blogging tool (always looking for freeware/open source) that simply generated and uploaded static pages from the local database of blog entries that it manages. I don’t know how many of those software tools exist (very few) but I found Blog and began to use it.

In the meantime, I began to work on building www.intouchcamps.com in the open-source CMS called Limbo (lite-Mambo…now Joomla). I looked at using Limbo for the last re-write of our site but I felt like I was trying to fit a square peg into a round hole and I could also tell that I was not “getting it” with respect to the CMS nomenclature of how to structure the content. I finally threw in the towel on that. I also started to help my daughter with two sites: https://fireproofsite.free.fr/  (defunct) and https://cblalsace.free.fr/ that she was building. POWWEB began offering some auto-installers of some of these open-source applications and I thought I’d take advantage of that and try some out. I installed phpBB and, in searching for the ultimate mailing list tool, tried phplist and phpLedMailer (none of which I use currently on our site).

All that to say that I began to get familiar with PHP-based apps and, more importantly, comfortable with them.

I also saw that as I continued to blog and with how I wanted to arrange/archive my categories, that the Blog tool was going to get more and more cumbersome as time went on. It’s a good tool but its biggest drawback is that it’s not being aggressively developed. It’s last non-beta release is pretty old and so one follows the slowly-released beta builds that have varying degrees of bugginess and feature release in them.

So, I finally bit the bullet and decided that I would install an open-source blog application on my site (specifically for my personal blog…not to run the whole site…yet). I had several to choose from with the auto-installers at POWWEB and finally settled on WordPress.

I managed to get WordPress sufficiently customized to our site’s look and feel and my blog’s look and feel…which I like and am not ready to change.

In working with the other open-source applications, I’ve come to the conclusion that TEXTAREA WYSIWYG editors are a pain in the rear! They are a necessary evil and can be helpful for “update-your-site-from-Timbuktu” reasons, but otherwise, I desperately wanted to avoid one of those editors as my primary blog editor.

So, I went on a search for client-side blogging tools for the PC platform that would work with a privately-hosted WordPress installation. There are several out there, but after installing (or trying to) several of them, it became obvious to me that the only real choices at this stage are Qumana and Zoundry. At the moment, I’ve chosen Zoundry though I think the two apps will both evolve quickly and I’m open to changing if there becomes a great difference that interests me.

I used Zoundry to re-load my 22 blog entries from the Blog database into WordPress. If it had been more than that, it might have been pretty painful. As it was, it was a bit of work. Try as I might to do a database-to-database copy from the DBISAM database to MySQL, I never succeeded. I would have had to write too much code to actually make it worth the while for 22 posts.

So, this is the first entry to be actually done totally on my Zoundry/WordPress solution. There is more customization and exploitation of WordPress features to come I hope. I also hope that it will be easier to maintain and to blog…

…so hopefully you’ll see a few more posts in the future!