HTML data entry forms are easy to create (see issue 146), but if you want the data your users enter to be sent from their browsers back to you, then you need server-side programming support. Some free web space servers provide a standard forms-to-email service, in which data captured from a form is sent to you in an email message (one message per completed form). If your server doesn't, then you can get it, free, from a third party.

The system works as you'd expect - when a user completes a form, the data is sent to the forms-processing server, which in turn sends it to the email address you've specified. In most cases the user then sees a 'thank you' page containing the forms server's banner ads, and a link back to your site.

Free forms processors vary in the amount of help they give you in building your form. One of the easiest to use is www.responders.net/, which does it, appropriately enough, by asking you to fill in a form. You choose up to 10 data entry fields, specifying the caption and control type (text box, radio button etc) for each one, then you're ready to go. The disadvantage is that the form is displayed at the responders.net site, and is very obviously not part of your pages. You're also only allowed one form per account.

For a more hands-on approach, try www.freedback.com. This site generates HTML source code for your form, which you can paste into your own pages and modify for that real 'in-site' look. You can also have as many fields as you like. A slight downside is freedback's particularly garish and ad-ridden thank-you page, which spoils the in-site feel.

For the real HTML enthusiast there's www.response-o-matic.com. Its entertainingly laid-back instruction pages just tell you to download its HTML form skeleton (containing the hidden fields necessary to format your email messages and thank-you page), then do whatever you want with it, creating as many forms with as many fields as you like. Its thank-you page is plain, but quite restrained.

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