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Digital Transformation

Build vs Buy: Webforms

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By Mang-Git Ng

Understanding the cost and benefits of building webforms from scratch vs using a vendor provided solution.

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Webforms = Web Development

Webforms, a basic building block for web based software applications. If your software needs to interact with a human, then you will need some kind of webform.

Fortunately Anvil Webforms make it easy to build intuitive online experiences that delight your customers and blend in with your brand. From online mortgage applications, to selling insurance policies, online job applications or even just basic onboarding. Your goal is to present the easiest, most intuitive way to collect the necessary information in order to provide a service.

Options for Webforms

There are countless form builders that you can use to quickly build, test, and launch your own online webform, and if those form builders are not sophisticated enough to  suit your needs, you can always build from scratch.  Github lists over 1440 repositories that offer pre-written web components in every language and technology to jump start any webform development process. Whether you are building in React, Vue.js, basic HTML or natively on device, there is a library ready to help you get over the initial drudgery of creating basic webform UI components.

Do You Really Want to Build Webforms?

But the gap between basic form builders and rolling your own UI in code is quite large. When you are using basic form builder you might run into issues like:

  • Missing Field Types - If the webform builder doesn’t support the field type you want, you will just have to settle for a close enough representative field.
  • Limited Data Validation - Sometimes you have data that just isn’t standardized, like insurance policy numbers. There is no way to add custom validation to match your needs.
  • All of the Questions - If the form is not dynamic, you are left to either present all of the questions or present an incomplete set of questions in an effort to reduce user effort.
  • Data Export - How will you get the data out of the platform, CSV? What if the data is poorly structured, do you now have to manually clean the data? Sounds like a lot of effort.

Rolling your own, just creates a new set of issues:

  • Selecting the right library - sometimes issues aren’t apparent until you have invested a lot of engineering effort.
  • Bugs - there are always bugs in open source libraries, now they are your bugs too, and it’s up to you to fix them.
  • Time and Effort - you’re building from scratch, so you don’t get any of the benefits of a nice UI.
  • Expertise - Coding is skill. Maybe this is less of an issue with AI, but today it still requires an engineer that could be working on building your product, not table stakes webforms.

Anvil Webforms is Different

That’s why we created Anvil Webforms. It comes with dozens of pre-configured components that can be easily set up  with our no-code UI. Whether you need a date field, an address field, a name field, or a social security field, Anvil supports a myriad of field types with each component pre-configured to work right out of the box. Beyond just basic components, we also allow you to easily add logic to your forms, so that you can dynamically ask for the right pieces of information and guide your users through a unique flow.

Sometimes, though, no-code is just no(t) good enough. That’s where Anvil’s advanced editor opens up the capabilities of javascript for the most complex validation, logic and calculations. The Advanced Editor alongside our robust API, real-time webhook notifications and CSS white labeling, means you can bake Anvil directly into your product. Now every team member can contribute to the product building process. Subject matter experts can configure the webform and flow, engineers can focus on integration and designs can make sure the webform is on brand, every time.

Anvil Webforms: Part of the Anvil Suite

Combine Anvil Webforms with our suite of document automation solutions, like PDF filling, HTML to PDF, and e-signatures to digitize any document-based process. Now that digital mortgage application can go onto an actual PDF application, that insurance policy can be presented on an official Acord Certificate of Insurance (Acord 25)  and that job application can become a job offer. Build all of this into your application, as part of your flow, on any device, with your brand, fast.

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  • Simplifying data gathering
  • Streamlining document preparation
  • Requesting e-signatures
  • Building and scaling your business
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