The sign-up list – using a shared form

When you plan events like an important presentation at work, a chess tournament or a beach party, you want to know who’s coming. Now you can post a sign-up list on your blog, and all the visitors to your website can see the names of those that have already signed up.

A sign-up list is basically a very simple web form with one row per participant, and one column for each thing you want to know about each person, e.g. their name, department or e-mail address. The form is so simple that there is no real need for a Submit button. You probably just print the final attendance list before you remove the registration form from your site.

Screenshot of a simple sign-up form

Create the form

Creating the form in Excel is simple. You just enter the column headings in the first row of the spreadsheet and make the columns wide enough for their content.

Sometimes an event has limited space and so you can only accept a certain number of attendants. An online sign-up form can be made with room for exactly the same number of people as there are seats in a conference room. In this example, the form will have exactly 20 rows.

There are several ways of opening cells for input in SpreadsheetConverter. For example, we could insert a Text widget into every input cell. For this kind of form, it is much simpler to use cell coloring. First we mark every input cell in a color we won’t use for anything else – in this case yellow.

Screenshot of the form with input cells painted yellow

Then we go to the Input Cells setting of the Workbook tab, click Cell color, click on one of the cells with yellow background, tick the checkbox for Ignore background color for input cells and make them white.

Screenshot of Workbook > Input cells > Cell color

Counting the number of attendees

For convenience, we will add a counter that displays the number of people that have registered for the event. We add this formula to cell A22:

=COUNTA(A2:A21)

The COUNTA function counts the number of cells in the range that are not empty, so as people start entering their names, the counter will increase.

Sharing a web form among visitors

Normally, each person sees their own unique copy of a web form. Imagine the confusion at a website like Amazon.com if everybody were sharing the same order form! But in this special case, we deliberately want all visitors to see who has signed up for the event. So we need a way to share a web form between visitors.

SpreadsheetConverter offers Real-time Sync of both forms and calculators. By enabling Real-time Sync for our sign-up form, we engage a server on the Internet to automatically save a master copy of the sign-up form. It then continuously collects any change made to the form, by any user, in any browser window, and mirrors all these changes back into the saved master. If the master copy is updated, Real-time Sync then reflects the same changes back to all open copies of the form, thus keeping all the distributed copies of the sign-up form in sync with the master, and with each other.

When users get an impulse to collaborate on a form with others, they usually click on the red Real-time Sync button and manually activate synchronization against the master copy. Read more in the online Help for Real-time Sync.
In our case, we never want to show our visitors anything but the saved and shared sign-up form. This is the only interesting copy of the form, and other people may already have started to register for the event. We need a way for the link on the website to point directly to the shared form.

It’s time to introduce you to a little trick. The only difference between a standard, unique link and a shared link is the “k” parameter in the link, which provides the “key” for the Real-time Sync collaboration session. So if the link to your calculator looks like this:

http://www.example.com/signup-list/signup-list.htm

you can point directly to the shared version by just adding a “k” parameter at the end, like this:

http://www.example.com/signup-list/signup-list.htm?k=presentation

In this example, we are using the word “presentation” as the key to our shared session. All visitors that view the form using this link will see exactly the same form contents, thanks to the magic of Real-time Sync!