What do you think of when you hear the word "forms?" Most likely, nothing good comes to mind, but thanks to the new announcement of Form Central from Adobe, you might actually start to think that forms are sexy.

Fun With Online Forms

Nobody really likes dealing with creating forms and then dealing with all the data that comes in after the forms are filled out. The process is usually quite cumbersome, time consuming and usually requires some form of technical knowledge or IT assistance to complete. In short -- it's not an easy experience. However, there may be a solution. Adobe has just launched what they are calling "Form Central" a web based form product designed to solve three pain points that most empowered knowledge workers are faced with:

  1. Making sure all team members can see the same information and are "on the same page"
  2. Streamlined analysis and reporting (traditionally done by running a report, exporting data to excel and emailing the report; all done manually)
  3. General ease of use -- as this is a web based platform which allows for anyone to design good looking and company branded forms

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Benefits of Form Central

Form Central comes with its own set of templates which users can then customize and manipulate to meet their needs. Although Form Central allows for data to be analyzed, the option of exporting to something like Excel for customized data manipulation still exists.

While the product itself is quite interesting, it is still a new product which lacks many of the features that I would want to see (although I am told these are all on the roadmap). Here's what is missing and what I would like to see in upcoming enhancements and iterations. 

  1. Embeddable functionality which allows me to put the form on anything from a custom website to a wordpress blog
  2. Ability to sync with other systems such as CRM or email marketing solutions -- meaning when you fill out the form the information doesn't just have to "live" in Adobe
  3. Social integration so that users can simply share the form via social channels or perhaps email it to friends or colleagues with the click of a button, thus giving it some "viral" functionality
  4. Polling functionality (I don't recall seeing this in the product demo but it may be there)

Support for Multiple Devices

This is a natural sync with Adobe PDF and, as mentioned above, is completely web based, as in created with HTML. This means these forms can reach people on any device. The form data is also captured in real time, which is especially relevant for any type of event hosting.

The product is just as relevant for small businesses as it is for enterprise organizations and the pricing reflects that. Users can create a free form with a trial of the product -- it is limited to 1 form and 50 responses however. 5 forms with 500 responses costs US$ 14.99/month and unlimited forms with up to 5,000 responses runs for US$ 199/year. 

Overall, I think this is a good move for Adobe and a natural one at that. The product is still in its early stages but I'm looking forward to seeing what future versions will look like.