I wanted to have this out last week, in time for their release of Ninja Forms 3, but with WordPress 4.6.1 dropping the day before and me breaking the site I use Ninja Forms on, well let’s just say my week ran away with me. See the previous post about how lesbians eat data for more.
Anyway. Ninja Forms 3. It took these guys a year to get it all right, and from where I sit, they did an amazing job. They managed to upgrade with minimal loss of data. And since we’re talking about forms, that’s a huge deal. You see, when you do a major overhaul of how forms are built, you’re changing how the data is stored. You’re also (possibly) changing the shortcakes in the posts where the forms are located.
Making matters ‘worse’ for Ninja Forms, they have add-ons. Now they have to make sure these hundreds of add ons will work with the new version of Ninja Forms, and you can bet that not every developer will be responsive. I know that one for a fact.
What they did was nothing short of phenomenal. You see, they ended up making two plugins and a migrator, wrapped it all up into one plugin, and released it. I cannot stress how incredibly hard that is. And they did it right and well.
Here’s how it worked. I had version 2.9.x and I pressed that happy upgrade button to go to version 3. Nothing changed. I had an alert telling me that “3 is coming!!” which I knew, so I clicked on the link and was taken to a page asking me if I wanted to upgrade. Hold on a second. I was asked to use the new version.
Right then and there I realized they’d not just included some 2.9.x stuff in the plugin as a fall back, no no. They had two plugins. That’s twice the work, but more to the point, they had an upgrader and a downgrade in there. I clicked upgrade, migrated my forms, and that was it. From the visitor’s end, nothing had changed, and that’s how we like it.
For me though, using it was a mind trip. The very first thing I noticed was that it took up my whole screen. Now I’m not a fan of that in general. I want WordPress to look like WordPress. I want access to all my things so I can right click and open a link in a new tab and multitask. And worse, most full screen WordPress tools don’t look like WordPress. The disparity of those kinds of changes bothers me a lot.
Shockingly, Ninja Forms felt like WordPress. It looked and felt like everything else in my dashboard. I’ve only seen this a few times, like with WooCommerce, where the ‘non’ WordPressy pages were still WordPress. This is hugely important to me. The more we make a consistent user environment for WordPress, the better we make the entire WordPress experience for our users.
I hadn’t messed much with Ninja Forms since I first set it up but now I had all sorts of fun things to play with. The drag and drop interface was as slick as it looked in the videos. This has reinvigorated my interest in things and I’ll be adding some more custom forms to the site soon.
Okay, so what don’t I like?
The colors don’t match my site. This is so random, I know, but I like to use different WP Admin themes for different sites. This site is purple, another is blue, and the one using Ninja Forms is 80s Kids – bright blue and pink. I wish that Ninja Forms picked up my admin colors and used that to make their interface.
I’m disappointed about tabbing as well. I can’t press tab and go between fields when I’m editing a form. I try to use my mouse as little as possible when I enter data. If I’m typing in information, like ‘term name’ and ‘value,’ then I want to press tab to jump to the next field.
Finally, and this is going to sound weird, I don’t like that the form editor makes the rest of their settings pages look plain. They did such a kick ass job, I look at the ‘regular’ settings and think they missed something. I know, it’s petty.