Save & Continue Later Pro 3.12+

Freeform 3.12 introduces a new Save & Continue Later feature which allows your users to securely save their form progress and come back later to complete it.

Overview

The form builder includes an additional special field called Save & Continue Later. Once you place that button into your form layout (per page), you can configure and special email notification as well as where the user is returned to once they click that button. These will offer you full control over instructions to the user about how to return and complete the form (including a URL with special token/key) and the amount of time they have to complete it before it expires (configurable). All saved form progress submissions are stored in a separate encrypted database table. This special button is optionally applied and configured to each page in the form. While it might be a bit more work if you wish to have the feature appear on every page and be identical for all, this approach means that you also have the complete flexibility to choose whether you want the Save button to appear on every page (e.g. maybe you don't want the user saving on the last page of the form) and can also optionally choose different return paths/email notification templates that could be customized by the progress on the form (e.g. "Thanks for starting your application!", "You're almost done...", "Thanks for completing the first 3 steps...", etc). When a user clicks the Save button, all field validation is circumvented. Other validation such as spam protection measures still apply.

Configuration

Once a Save & Continue Later special field is added to the page layout in the form, the settings for this button in the form builder property editor are:

  • Button Label - defaults to Save & Continue Later
  • Positioning
    • Left
    • Center
    • Right
  • Return URL - where the user should be returned to if they click the Save button.
    • Special token and key variables are available to include in the return path.
    • The return URL would be wherever you like, and fully customizable. This is where you'd include instructions to the user including a URL for where to return to complete the form later.
  • Target Email field (optional) - the Email field that will contain the user's email address in order to send the email notification.
    • If the user hasn't yet filled out an email address and the field is NOT required, the email notification attempt will be suppressed. If the email address field is marked as required, the form will run through regular field validation until it contains a valid value. A good way around this would be to have the first page include basic info like name and email and/or no option to save the form until the second page.
    • Email Notification Template - the email notification sent to the user if they click the Save button.
      • Choose a special Freeform email notification template.
      • The message of this email notification is completely customizable, but be sure to include instructions to the user including a URL for where to return to complete the form later.
      • The following special variables are available for this email template:
      {{ token }} - the session token
      {{ key }} - the form submission key
      
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There are also 2 general settings specific to Save & Continue Later:

  • Number of Days to Keep Saved Form Data - the number of days to store saved form progress in the database before clearing.
  • Maximum Number of Saved Forms Per Session - the maximum number of saved forms per session (per user, though it's possible a user may have multiple sessions when returning to the site over a span of several days). Default is 10, which should be a comfortable and reasonable number. Once the maximum has been reached, Freeform will begin overwriting existing older entries to create new ones.

You may also override the Return URL for the Saving feature by specifying the savedFormRedirect parameter at template level:





 






{% set submissionToken = craft.app.request.getQueryParam('session-token') %}
{% set submissionKey = craft.app.request.getQueryParam('key') %}

{{ craft.freeform.form("yourFormHandle").render({
    savedFormRedirect: '/apply/form-save?&session-token={token}&key={key}',
    savedSession: {
        key: submissionKey,
        token: submissionToken,
    },
}) }}
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TIP

If savedSession does not contain a valid key and token, the form will just render a fresh copy of the form with no saved data present and work as usual. This means that you don't necessarily need to have a unique template page to handle the resume part.

How to Use

The general flow for making use of this feature is to have a "success" page specifically designed to educate and inform the customer about what happens next. This success page would likely have instructions as well as a link to where the form can be continued (making use of the unique submission token and key).

1. Create the 'Success' Template

Create a brand new template that contains something along the lines of this:

{% set submissionToken = craft.app.request.getQueryParam('session-token') %}
{% set submissionKey = craft.app.request.getQueryParam('key') %}

<h3>Progress Saved!</h3>
<p>
    Your form progress has successfully been saved! Whenever you're ready
    to complete the form, please return by visiting this URL:
</p>
<p>
    <a href="{{ siteUrl }}apply/form-save?session-token={{ submissionToken }}&key={{ submissionKey }}">
        {{ siteUrl }}apply/form-save?session-token={{ submissionToken }}&key={{ submissionKey }}
    </a>
</p>
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This example assumes that you will be passing the token and key into the URL as a query with session-token and key. This can be done in a variety of other ways if you wish. It also assumes that your form users to continue editing is located at /apply/form-save.

WARNING

Please note that the token query in the URL is a reserved word by Craft.

2. Create a 'Continue' Template

It's entirely possible to resuse the existing template structure and path, but to make this as clear as possible, we'll create an extra page template to handle this. This form will contain a new parameter called saveSession to handle the Save & Continue Later feature. It'll be located at /apply/form-save and contain something like this:





 
 
 
 


{% set submissionToken = craft.app.request.getQueryParam('session-token') %}
{% set submissionKey = craft.app.request.getQueryParam('key') %}

{{ craft.freeform.form("yourFormHandle").render({
    savedSession: {
        token: submissionToken,
        key: submissionKey,
    },
}) }}
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Just like above in step 1, this example assumes that you will be passing the token and key into the URL as a query with session-token and key. This can be done in a variety of other ways if you wish.

3. Create an Email Notification template

Create a brand new email notification template so that this feature can send an email notification to the user with instructions on how to continue later. This is optional. Keeping with the examples in the steps above, be sure to match the URL structure and link to the template you just created in Step 2:

<h3>Progress Saved!</h3>
<p>
    Your form progress has successfully been saved! Whenever you're ready
    to complete the form, please return by visiting this URL:
</p>
<p>
    <a href="{{ siteUrl }}apply/form-save?session-token={{ token }}&key={{ key }}">
        {{ siteUrl }}apply/form-save?session-token={{ token }}&key={{ key }}
    </a>
</p>
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Just like above in step 1, this example assumes that you will be passing the token and key into the URL as a query with session-token and key. This can be done in a variety of other ways if you wish.

4. Set up the Form

  • Inside the form builder, from the Special Fields area (top left), add a Save & Continue Later button into the form layout. Repeat this for all pages you'd like to have the ability to save progress on.
  • Edit the label as you wish, and then set the return URL to wherever you have your success/info page set up. Continuing from the steps above, let's assume the 'Continue' page location is located at /apply/form-save and is looking for a query in the URL with session-token and key, e.g.:
    /apply/form-save?form={{ form.handle }}&session-token={token}&key={key}
    
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  • You may include the {token} and {key} variables as well as form variables, e.g. form.handle, etc.
  • Select an Email field type in the Target Email Field dropdown setting (optional).
    • Then select the email notification template you just created in Step 3.

5. User Flow

Let's pretend you have a 6-page form and have added the Save & Continue Later buttons to all of the pages.

  • The user begins filling out the 6-page form.
  • Once they make it to page 3, they decide to save the form and continue later, so they click on your Save & Continue Later button.
  • The form skips validation for that page, but saves the existing data on that page including the progress of previous pages.
  • Freeform generates a special submission entry in the database for the token that will be used. It will encrypt all data with the generated key + server secret and store it in the database.
  • It then redirects the user to the Return URL specified in the form builder (or overwritten with savedFormRedirect parameter at template level), which should include a token and key. Continuing the example, the return URL would look like /apply/form-save?&session-token=TOKEN&key=KEY, the return/success page noted in Step 1 would be presented.
  • If configured, the user will also receive an email notification with instructions and a link with the token and key to come back to finish the form later.
  • The user would need to take note of this special URL or hang on to the email notification they received.
  • For the user to resume the form, they would visit that special URL.

Spam Considerations

The Save & Continue Features still factors in some spam protection features, but the behavior may not be the exact same or expected in this context. Please be cautious and make note of the following behavior that will happen with forms using any spam protection when a user attempts to Save the form progress:

  • Freeform Honeypot: if a user fails the Honeypot test (a value entered into the Honeypot field), Freeform will bypass the Save & Continue Later feature and run field validation. If the user has missed any required fields or filled out any incorrectly, the user will see the appropriate errors (as if they attempted to fully submit the form). If the user were to clear the incorrect value in the Honeypot field while completing required fields and attempts to save the form again, the Save & Continue Later feature will work. If the user had no errors, the form will bypass the Save & Continue Later feature and treat the submission as spam (place in Spam Folder or error, depending on settings). In the case of multipage forms, if the Honeypot fails on one page and there are no field validation errors, the form would just advance to the next page (and theoretically give the user another chance to NOT fill in the Honeypot field).
  • 👍 reCAPTCHA v2 Checkbox: if a user does not complete the reCAPTCHA v2 Checkbox (checking it and/or interacting with puzzle), Freeform will allow the Save & Continue Later feature to work. It's important to note that the user will still need to complete the reCAPTCHA check to fully submit the form at the end.
  • 👍 reCAPTCHA v2 Invisible: if a user does not pass the reCAPTCHA v2 Invisible check (automated checking and/or interacting with puzzle), Freeform will allow the Save & Continue Later feature to work. It's important to note that the user will still need to complete the reCAPTCHA check to fully submit the form at the end.
  • reCAPTCHA v3: if a user fails the automatic v3 test, Freeform will bypass the Save & Continue Later feature and run field validation. If the user has missed any required fields or filled out any incorrectly, the user will see the appropriate errors (as if they attempted to fully submit the form). If the user has/had no errors, the form will bypass the Save & Continue Later feature and treat the submission as spam (place in Spam Folder or error, depending on settings). If the user does happen to pass the automatic v3 test, the Save & Continue Later feature will work.
  • 👎 Block Email addresses: if a blocked email address is entered, the submission will bypass the Save & Continue Later feature and treat the submission as spam (place in Spam Folder or error, depending on settings).
  • 👎 Block Keywords: if a blocked keyword is entered, the submission will bypass the Save & Continue Later feature and treat the submission as spam (place in Spam Folder or error, depending on settings).
  • 👎 Block IP addresses: if the user's IP address has been blocked, the submission will bypass the Save & Continue Later feature and treat the submission as spam (place in Spam Folder or error, depending on settings).
  • Minimum Submit Time: if the user attempts to save the form before the minimum submit time has been reached, Freeform will bypass the Save & Continue Later feature and run field validation. If the user has missed any required fields or filled out any incorrectly, the user will see the appropriate errors (as if they attempted to fully submit the form). If the user meets the minimum submit time while completing required fields and attempts to save the form again, the Save & Continue Later feature will work. If the user had no errors, the form will bypass the Save & Continue Later feature and treat the submission as spam (place in Spam Folder or error, depending on settings).
  • 👎 Form Submit Expiration: if the user attempts to save the form after the maximum submit time has passed, the form will bypass the Save & Continue Later feature and treat the submission as spam (place in Spam Folder or error, depending on settings).

Other Considerations

The Save & Continue Features attempts to account for all kinds of scenarios, but there are some limitations with this. Please be cautious and make note of the following behavior that will happen with forms using any of the following features when a user attempts to Save the form progress:

  • Stripe Payments: when the Stripe credit card fields are present on the form page, attempting to save the form while these fields are empty or invalid will result in Stripe mentioning the fields are required. If filled out and the user saves the form, the form will save the progress but will not save credit card numbers and will also push through payment to Stripe. For this reason, we strongly recommend that for multi-page payment forms, you place the credit card fields on the last page and do not allow saving of the last page.
  • 👍 Uploaded Files: by default, Freeform has a cleanup process that routinely checks for partially completed forms and removes associated uploaded files after 3 hours (assuming the user never completed the form and will be unable to). In the context of Save & Continue Later, users may upload files and then save the form and return back well beyond 3 hours later to complete the form. In this case, Freeform will only clear files associated with incomplete form saves that have expired (once the value for the Number of Days to Keep Saved Form Data setting has passed). The way this works is that Freeform will give the uploaded asset a date in the future (matching the number of days for that setting). For this reason, any changes to the Number of Days to Keep Saved Form Data setting will not be retroactive on existing uploaded files.
  • 👎 Editing Forms: there is currently no support for saving progress while editing submissions. If attempted, Freeform will just create a duplicate submission instead.
Last Updated: 11/9/2021, 11:53:01 AM