Form Plugin

Lets you create simple and advanced web forms.

Note: for TWiki versions before 4.2, form POSTs are converted to GETs. This means that all form values will be visible in the browser url, and that there is a limit to the amount of data sent.

Main features

  • No html knowledge required to create forms
    • Add input fields, textareas, dropdown select boxes, checkboxes, radio buttons
    • Set preselected values
  • Create a uniform layout
  • Call TWiki scripts (view, edit, upload, save) or custom scripts
  • Use entered field values as variables
  • Validate the form before it performs its action
    • Usability tested error feedback
  • Add Javascript functions for advanced interaction

Example of validation error feedback:

Example of validation error feedback


A simple form can be created like this:
title="Enter your name:"

This results in:

Enter your name:



Most parameters are optional. See below for a detailed explanation.



Parameter Description Required Default value Examples
name The name of the form. Must be unique. required - name="personaldata"
action Action of the form. For example:
view, viewauth, edit, save, %SCRIPTURL{view}%/%WEB%/WebHome
required - action="viewauth"
validate Set to "off" to disable form validation; overrules any FORMELEMENT validate parameters.   validation is enabled validate="off"
topic Only if action is set to view, viewauth, edit, upload or save: the target topic of the action. Webname.TopicName syntax may be used. - the current topic topic="%WEB%.WebHome"
web Only if action is set to view, viewauth, edit, of save: the target web of the action. - the current web web="Main"
anchor The anchor link the form should be linked to after submission. If not set the default notification anchor link is used to directly point to possible problems. - FormPluginNotification anchor="MyForm"
method GET or POST (What's the difference?) - GET method="POST"
redirectto Redirect topic after form action has been performed. Only for scripts that understand the redirectto parameter such as edit and save. Use the Webname.TopicName syntax. - - redirectto="Main.WebHome"
formcssclass The CSS class of the form container. Use TWiki's twikiFormSteps class together with twikiFormStep for elements to divide the form in steps. - - formcssclass="twikiFormSteps"
elementcssclass The CSS class of the element container. Use TWiki's twikiFormStep class to divide the form in steps. - - elementcssclass="twikiFormStep"
noformhtml When set to on no form html will be written to the page. This is useful to set form parameters for form elements that use a different form, for instance with TWiki:Plugins.CommentPlugin. - - noformhtml="on"
onSubmit Function call that is invoked when the user has pressed the submit button of a form. This event happens just before the form is submitted, and your function can return a value of false in order to abort the submission. Note that the function call should include (this). - - onSubmit="return notify(this)"



  • form field
  • optional items:
    • title
    • div container
    • hint text
    • mandatory indication

Use %URLPARAM{"element_name"}% to retrieve the value of a submitted form element.

Parameter Description Required Default value Examples
name Element name, must be unique. May contain spaces. The element name is used in the validation error feedback. required - name="First name"
type Type of the element:
text - creates a textfield; use size and maxlength to set the length
password - creates a password textfield; otherwise same as text
upload - creates an upload field; when used with parameter type="upload" and STARTFORM parameter action="upload", set the name to "filepath"
textarea - creates a textarea; use rows and cols to set the size
select - creates a variable sized selection box; use size to set the visible number of items
selectmulti - same as select with multiple items selectable
dropdown - same as select with 1 item visible
checkbox - creates a set of checkboxes; to put checkboxes on line each set fieldformat="$e <br />"
radio - creates a set of radio buttons; to put radio buttons on line each set fieldformat="$e <br />"
date - creates a date button; requires JSCalendarContrib (installed by default)
dateformat - sets the output format of the date button, for instance: %Y/%m/%d - see date formats for more info
submit - creates a submit button
hidden - creates a hidden input field
required - type="selectmulti"
options List of selectable value parameters to use with select, dropdown, checkbox or radio. You may use TWikiForms notation option1=Label 1, option2=Label 2. - - options="mary, peter, annabel, nicky, jennifer" or options and labels combined: options="mary=Mary M, peter=Peter P, annabel=Annabel A, nicky=Nicky N, jennifer=Jennifer J"
labels To use with options: list of visible labels for each option. - If no labels are set the option values are displayed. labels="Mary M, Peter P, Annabel A, Nicky N, Jennifer J"
default Predefined input:
• For single entry elements: the text value.
• For multi-select elements: the selected items; a comma delimited string.
• For type="submit" the button label; you may use buttonlabel as well.
- - default="%WIKIUSERNAME%" or default="mary, peter, annabel" or default="Submit"
buttonlabel The button label. - - buttonlabel="Submit"
hint Input hint optionally displayed next to the form element. - - hint="Enter a TWiki.WikiWord"
mandatory Indicates if the form element needs to have a value or selection when the form is submitted. Creates a red asterisk. - - mandatory="on"
validate The type of entry this form element needs to have when the form is submitted:
nonempty single entry elements: must have a value; multi-select elements: must have a selection
string same as nonempty
int the input must be a rounded number
float the input accepts rounded numbers and floating point numbers
email the input must be in e-mail format
- - validate="nonempty"
condition Conditionally sets the default value of a form field. Used together with default parameter and a form field token: $name_of_form_field. Use the same parameters as with validate. - - This example will write a bullet item with the value of field date_from, only if that value exists:
default="   * $date_from"
format See Formatting below.
fieldformat See Formatting below.
titleformat See Formatting below.
cssclass CSS class for the element - TWiki CSS classes: twikiInputField, twikiSubmit cssclass="myButtonClass"
size For type="text" or type="password": the width of the input field measured in number of characters. - 40 size="60"
maxlength For type="text" or type="password": the maximum number of input characters. - - maxlength="12"
rows For type="textarea": the number of rows. - - rows="5"
cols For type="textarea": the number of columns. - - cols="80"
focus focus="on" gives text entry focus to a field. Requires javascript. Only one element on the page can have focus. - - focus="on"
disabled disabled="on" disables user input; copying from a disabled input field is not possible. Note: disabled fields are not included into the submitted data. - - disabled="on"
readonly readonly="on" makes the field read-only; copying is possible but not changing. Only works for text fields and textarea. Note: readonly fields are included into the submitted data. - - readonly="on"

Javascript parameters

Note that all function calls should include (this).

Parameter Description Required Default value Examples
beforeclick (Javascript convenience method) Creates default text in a textfield that is 'clicked away' when the field is clicked. - - beforeclick="Your name..."
onFocus Function call that is invoked when the user has selected a field. - - onFocus="makeBlack(this)"
onBlur Function call that is invoked when the user has changed the part of a text field that is selected. - - onBlur="makeGray(this)"
onMouseOver Function call that is invoked when the mouse has moved over an element. - - onMouseOver="makeYellow(this)"
onMouseOut Function call that is invoked when the mouse has moved off an element. - - onMouseOut="makeWhite(this)"
onSelect Function call that is invoked when the user has changed the part of a text field that is selected. - - onSelect="makeBold(this)"
onChange Function call that is invoked when the user has changed the contents of a field. - - onChange="giveFeedback(this)"
onKeyUp Practically the same as onChange. - - onKeyUp="giveFeedback(this)"
onClick Function call that is invoked when the user has clicked an element. - - onClick="beep(this)"


Does not have any parameters.


Retrieve the validation status of the form. Note that the status cannot be used to build form logic (the variable expansion happens long after the form is created), but you may use it to show additional feedback.

  • Status = %FORMSTATUS{"name_of_form"}%
    Possible values:
    • unchecked - the form has not been validated
    • error - the form has been validated and an error has been found
    • noerror - the form has been validated and no errors have been found
  • unchecked status = %FORMSTATUS{"name_of_form" status="unchecked"}%
    '1' in case of unchecked, otherwise '0'
  • error status = %FORMSTATUS{"name_of_form" status="error"}%
    '1' in case of error, otherwise '0'
  • noerror status = %FORMSTATUS{"name_of_form" status="noerror"}%
    '1' in case of noerror, otherwise '0'


Formatting of each form element can be set with the FORMELEMENT parameters:
  • format - defines the display of:
    • title
    • field
    • hint
    • mandatory indicator
  • fieldformat - defines the display of the field / select item only
  • titleformat - defines the display of the title only

Use the following tokens to define where form element parts are displayed:

  • $e - form element token
  • $t - title token
  • $h - hint token
  • $m - mandatory token, currently just an asterisk *

The escape tokens $quot ("), $percnt (%), $dollar ($), $n (newline) and $nop (<nop>) can be used to prevent expansion.


The default format is:

<p> $t <br /> $e $m $h </p>
This means that the title is displayed one line above the field, and the mandatory indicator and input hint are displayed at the right of the field.
To swith the order around use for example:
format="<p> $m $t $h <br />$e </p>"


The default elementformat is simply

This means that radio buttons and checkboxes are all displayed on one line. To put these items on one line each, write:

elementformat="$e <br />"


The default elementformat is
 $t <br />

To display the title in bold, write:

titleformat=" *$t* <br />"

Date Formats

With parameter dateformat you may use these date specifiers:
%a - abbreviated weekday name 
%A - full weekday name 
%b - abbreviated month name 
%B - full month name 
%C - century number 
%d - the day of the month ( 00 .. 31 ) 
%e - the day of the month ( 0 .. 31 ) 
%H - hour ( 00 .. 23 ) 
%I - hour ( 01 .. 12 ) 
%j - day of the year ( 000 .. 366 ) 
%k - hour ( 0 .. 23 ) 
%l - hour ( 1 .. 12 ) 
%m - month ( 01 .. 12 ) 
%M - minute ( 00 .. 59 ) 
%n - a newline character 
%p - "PM" or "AM"
%P - "pm" or "am"
%S - second ( 00 .. 59 ) 
%s - number of seconds since Epoch (since Jan 01 1970 00:00:00 UTC) 
%t - a tab character 
%U, %W, %V - the week number
   The week 01 is the week that has the Thursday in the current year,
   which is equivalent to the week that contains the fourth day of January. 
   Weeks start on Monday.
%u - the day of the week ( 1 .. 7, 1 = MON ) 
%w - the day of the week ( 0 .. 6, 0 = SUN ) 
%y - year without the century ( 00 .. 99 ) 
%Y - year including the century ( ex. 1979 ) 
%% - a literal % character 

Form processing

A FormPlugin form is first processed before it is sent to its action target. Processing is done in 2 steps:
  1. Substitution of field references.
  2. Validation

Substitution of field references

This allows to use entered field values as variables. For example:
  • A form element has the name "To"
  • Another form element (for instance a hidden field) has the default value "email response to $To"
  • When the form is submitted, $To is substituted for the form element value with that name
  • The form is passed along

Form validation

  • Form elements can be checked on input that is nonempty, string, int, float or email
  • If a validation error occurs, the form is displayed with error feedback
See FORMELEMENT:validate for usage instructions.
Use %FORMSTATUS{}% to retrieve the status of the form; see FORMSTATUS.


See Sandbox.FormPluginExamples

Upload form

A TWiki upload form to attach a file to a topic should contain these parameters:
  • STARTFORM param action="upload"
  • STARTFORM param topic and web, or use the more compact topic="Web.TopicName" format
  • STARTFORM param method="POST"
  • STARTFORM param validate="off" - form validation does not work with file upload
  • FORMELEMENT param name="filepath"


title="Attach new file"
buttonlabel="Upload file"

Optionally additional attachment parameters can be set with these fields:

options="on=Do not show attachment in table"
options="on=Create a link to the attached file"

See the working example in FormPluginExamples:Upload

Plugin Settings

Plugin settings are stored as preferences variables. To reference a plugin setting write %<plugin>_<setting>%, i.e. %CACHECONTENTPLUGIN_SHORTDESCRIPTION%

  • One line description, is shown in the TextFormattingRules topic:
    • Set SHORTDESCRIPTION = Lets you create simple and advanced web forms

  • Debug plugin: (See output in data/debug.txt)
    • Set DEBUG = 0

Plugin Tests

  • This plugin is enabled.

CSS classes

Class name Note
formPluginNotification Used for validation error feedback
fieldset.formPluginGroup To group checkboxes and radio buttons
fieldset.formPluginGroupWithHint A group with an input hint - shows a border at the right
formPluginTitle Element title
formPluginError State that causes input fields to have a red border and titles to be bold red
formPluginHint Input hint
formPluginMandatory Mandatory indication (asterisk)

Further development

  • The form validation does not work correctly with multiple forms on one page and when the method is POST
  • It would be nice to feed form values from other topics
  • It would be nice if the form had javascript form validation as well to provide direct user feedback.

Plugin Installation Instructions

Note: You do not need to install anything on the browser to use this plugin. The following instructions are for the administrator who installs the plugin on the server where TWiki is running.

  • Download the ZIP file from the Plugin web (see below)
  • Unzip in your twiki installation directory. Content:
    File: Description:
    data/TWiki/FormPlugin.txt Plugin topic
    data/Sandbox/FormPluginExamples.txt Working examples
    lib/TWiki/Plugins/ Plugin Perl module
    lib/TWiki/Plugins/FormPlugin/ Plugin Perl module for form validation
    pub/TWiki/FormPlugin/formplugin.css Style Sheet
    pub/TWiki/FormPlugin/error.gif Error icon

Plugin Info

Plugin Author: TWiki:Main.ArthurClemens
Other authors:, originally CGI::Validate by Zenin <> aka Byron Brummer <>. Copyright (c) 1997,1998 OMIX, Inc. All rights reserved. Use is granted under the same terms of Perl.
Plugin Version: 08 Mar 2007 (V1.2)
Change History:  
08 Mar 2008 1.2 Added condition, noformhtml and dateformat attributes.
19 Oct 2007 1.1 Added date type.
09 Jun 2007 1.0.5 Added upload parameter; option to turn off form validation; custom javascript has been replaced by code in pub/TWiki/TWikiJavascripts/twikiForm.js; added Flickr example.
27 May 2007 1.0.4 Update javascript calls to new twikiForm.js.
19 May 2007 1.0.3 Added element attributes: focus, disabled, readonly; Javascript parameters beforeclick, onFocus, onBlur, onMouseOver, onMouseOut, onSelect, onChange, onClick, onKeyUp; form parameter onSubmit. Fallback for form POSTs and TWiki versions earlier than 4.2: POST requests are converted to GET requests.
15 May 2007 1.0.2 Added form attribute elementformat; changed parameter names for consistency: class to cssclass, elementformat to fieldformat.
14 May 2007 1.0.1 Added missing lib.
13 May 2007 1.0 First release.
TWiki Dependency: TWiki 4.2; $TWiki::Plugins::VERSION 1.1
CPAN Dependencies: -
Other Dependencies: -
Perl Version: 5.005
License: GPL (GNU General Public License)
Benchmarks: GoodStyle nn%, FormattedSearch nn%, FormPlugin nn%
Plugin Home:

Related Topics: TWikiPreferences, TWikiPlugins

Topic attachments
I Attachment Action Size Date Who Comment
gifgif error.gif manage 0.3 K 2009-07-27 - 19:36 TWikiAdmin Saved by install script
pngpng form_on_submit_diagram.png manage 54.3 K 2009-07-27 - 19:36 TWikiAdmin Saved by install script
csscss formplugin.css manage 1.0 K 2009-07-27 - 19:36 TWikiAdmin Saved by install script
pngpng screenshot_validation_example.png manage 22.3 K 2009-07-27 - 19:36 TWikiAdmin Saved by install script
Curriculum Hub>FormPlugin (2009-07-27, TWikiAdmin )