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. Users will add their names one by one so there is no use for a Submit button. You will probably just press the Print button at the bottom to print the final attendance list before you remove the registration form from your site just before the event is started.

Screenshot of the signup list on the web

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. In this case, create your online sign-up form so that is has exactly the same number of rows as the number of people you can accommodate. If your conference room has 16 seats, provide only 16 rows on your sign-up form.

In this example, the form will have exactly nine rows. This probably makes it shorter than most real-life forms but we prefer small screenshots.

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 signup-list in Excel with input fields colored yellow and a participant counter

Then we go to the Input Cells setting on 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 and click Apply. To learn more about cell coloring, read the online help page on How to open cells for input.

Screenshot of the Color selector in the Input Cells section of the Workbook tab

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 A11:


The COUNTA function counts the number of cells in the range that are not empty. For each new name on the list, the counter will increase by one.

Convert the form to a web page

The design of the web form is now complete. Convert the spreadsheet to a web page with SpreadsheetConverter. If you haven’t done this before, read the tutorial on how to convert a spreadsheet.

Upload the sign-up list to a web server

You can now upload the sign-up form to your web server or blog. If you are unfamiliar with this, follow one of the many tutorials on how to upload a converted web page.

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 if everybody were sharing the same order form!

In this special case, we deliberately want all visitors to see who has previously signed up for the event. So we need a way to share the same web form between many visitors. The list must also be persistent – all the names that have been added to the list must be retained as more and more people visit the web page, until the event has taken place.

SpreadsheetConverter offers Real-time Sync of both forms and calculators. This ensures that all people viewing the sign-up form see exactly the same names in the list. The only difference with a shared link is the “k” parameter in the link, which is used to provide the unique “key” for the Real-time Sync collaboration session. So if you’ve uploaded the sign-up list to a server, and the link to it looks like this:

you can create a saved, persistent version just by adding a “k” parameter at the end of the link, like this:

In this example, we are using the word “audition” as the key to, or session name, for our Real-time sync session. The contents of the sign-up form will be persistently saved to disk in the online Real-time Sync server. Any change you make to the spreadsheet when opened with this particular key will automatically be retained until you (or someone else) open the same session again.

Inviting guests to the event

You can now begin inviting people to your event. You can e-mail the link to the sign-up list to people, or put it up on your blog or website. As long as you send people the full link, including the same “k” parameter for the Real-time sync session, they will all open and see the same shared, persistent list of participants on their screens.

Let’s assume a group of people get your invitation and open the audition sign-up list on their smartphone or laptop. Initially, the form will be empty for all of them. As the first person enters his name on the first row of the form, it immediately appears on all the other screens. If four people sign up for the event, the list could look like this – on all screens that concurrently view the web form:

Screenshot of the signup list on the web

Since the list is persistent, all names are also retained from one day to the next. Later the same week, someone may arrive to find that there are no free slots on the list and the audition is already fully booked.

Would this be useful to you?

This is a fun, new way of handling everyday online forms that don’t require any processing. Let the family share a grocery shopping list, have people see and book your free calendar slots if you’re a barber, or collect wishes for popular songs at a radio station. What more can we do to make this feature even more useful to you? Don’t hesitate to contact us and tell us what you need.

The magic of Real-time Sync

There are many ways to collaborate on an online spreadsheet. Of course, you could just use a screen-sharing program. But only Real-time Sync makes any web spreadsheet persistent, permanent, perpetual – the cloud spreadsheet is saved after every change. If you open the same spreadsheet with the same key two years later, the information you last typed into it is still there.