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Create Forms with File Uploads Using Dropbox Forms

book_with_squaresA few weeks ago, I set out to digitize the application form that students fill out to work in our writing center. I thought I’d use Google Docs Forms, which I’ve used quite happily for similar projects in the past. However, I need a way to collect writing samples from potential tutors, and Google Docs Forms do not allow users to upload or attach files. I could ask applicants to cut and paste a writing sample into a text box, but this would result in a spreadsheet with one enormous field at the end.

When I shared my problem on Twitter, folks pointed me a to a few alternative form-creation services that do accept file uploads, but each of these charge a monthly fee. As I’ll only be accepting applications a few times a year, I really don’t want to pay a month-to-month fee.

Then this post at Lifehacker introduced me to Dropbox Forms, which integrates directly with the web form builder JotForm. In short, when you build a form in Jotform, you can include a “file upload” field. The first time you do this, you must grant permission for JotForm to access your Dropbox account. Then, when users fill out the form you’ve created, any files they upload through the form will be placed on your Dropbox in the folder Dropbox–>JotForm–>Send a File.

Voila! A free-to-build form with file upload. JotForm can offer this service for free, I assume, because the files aren’t stored with Jotform, but with each user—so JotForm doesn’t foot the bandwidth bill. And Dropbox—which must, at this point, be the official app of ProfHacker—once again saves the day. If you don’t have a Dropbox account at this point, get one and then try out JotForms.

[Creative Commons licensed photo by Flickr user ollesvensson.]

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