I’m a little biased towards the Gravity Forms plugin. Maybe it’s because I’ve worked a lot with it. It can be used to create any online form you need. You can create contact or registration forms, multi-page forms, purchase forms, etc. (Okay, I’ll cut short the GF extolment). But go ahead. I’d like to hear you recommend me a better Form Builder plugin, not just from a user’s perspective but a developer’s perspective as well.
Anyway. Moving on.
I use Gravity Forms, as part of form automation on client sites. But Gravity Forms is for online forms. Form automation usually involves creating documents (such as PDF documents) as well. Since Gravity Forms is quite popular there are quite a few extensions available to convert Gravity Forms data to PDF documents. Out of these, popular extensions are the Gravity Forms PDF Autofill Plugin, and the Gravity Forms PDF Extended.
Let’s take a look at what these plugins exactly do.
Gravity Forms PDF Autofill Solution v/s Gravity Forms PDF Extended
The Gravity Forms PDF Autofill Solution: “…facilitates the creation and sharing of multiple PDF documents, from data entered in a Gravity Forms form”.
The Gravity Forms PDF Extended: can be used to “…automatically generate and email PDFs using Gravity Forms”.
Both these extensions, basically do the same thing. They dynamically create PDF documents using Gravity Forms data. So then if you had to decide on one, how would you decide? To help you out further. Let’s take a detailed look at the features they offer.
|Feature||PDF Autofill||PDF Extended|
|Auto Create PDF document||Yes||Yes|
|Create PDF Template||Yes*||Yes|
|Upload PDF Template||Yes||No|
|Conditionally Select Form Fields||Yes||Yes|
|Create Email Template||Yes||No|
|Custom Mapping of Form Fields||Yes||Yes|
|Map Multiple PDF Templates to GF||Yes||Yes|
|Map Multiple Email Templates to GF||Yes||No|
* In the Business Plus solution
Ooookkkaayy… The differences don’t really stand out. Both these extensions provide the needed functionality. For example, you can download or email PDF documents. You can conditionally decide which fields will be shown in the PDF document. Multiple PDF documents can be created for a single Gravity form submission, and so on.
So then what’s next. What is the difference between the two?
There are two major points of difference between the two extensions:
- The way in which form fields are mapped to PDF document fields
- The creation of PDF document templates
Mapping of Form Fields
The paramount difference between PDF Autofill and PDF extended is that using the Autofill extension, you can map form fields to different field location on the PDF document easily. Whereas the standard PDF extended template provides a one-to-one mapping. What does this mean?
Consider the below avant-garde Gravity Form, which has the following fields (name, email, designation, message, address):
And this would the PDF document Generated Using PDF Extended:
Notice how each form field is mapped in the same order on the form.
This same document could be created differently using the PDF Autofill solution, where form fields could be mapped to different locations (as shown in the image below):
However! As Jake mentioned you could create an advanced template in the PDF extended solution, to change field ordering. But this would need some coding expertise. And PDF AutoFill provides a simpler solution.
Creating PDF Templates
Another difference between the two is the method in which PDF templates are created. Although PDF extended allows you to create PDF documents directly using the extension, you have to change the code in the template file to customize your PDF template. While this is fine for a developer. It’s understandable that not many users might be okay with this. Although the changes to be made are simple, people tend to get apprehensive when code level changes have to be made. Most wouldn’t be keen to look up a tutorial video, to make simple alterations.
Using the PDF Autofill solution, document templates have to be externally created and then uploaded into the system. Since external services like Adobe Acrobat, provide a drag and drop interface, it’s simpler to create the PDF template.
Some could argue, and say that they do not want to use an external service. And that’s perfectly fine. The PDF Extended allows you to create PDF templates using HTML and CSS as well. And if your purchase the Business Plus pack, you could upload your created templates as well.
There are a few more minor differences, but the above two reasons could be deciding factors, for those of you looking for a GF to PDF solution. But, if you ask me to recommend one over the other, my opinion might be skewed because WisdmLabs built the Gravity Forms PDF Autofill solution 😀 I personally believe, PDF Autofill solution scores better than PDF Extended because of the above-mentioned features. But, I’d like to hear your views, especially from those particularly looking out for such functionality. And the features that interest you about each extension, and the one you would prefer to use. So do remember to leave your comments for the benefit of fellow readers.