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GDPR - Form Submissions will no longer work on Exported sites :-(


#1

In the GDPR post - it says how form submissions on exported sites will no longer work after July 31st 2018

Starting on May 25th, sites exported from Webflow will have the form submission source code removed, and exported code will need to be manually hooked up to another mechanism or service to capture form submissions. For sites that were exported before May 25th, we’ll continue to record form submissions until July 31st, 2018, to give site owners time to transition.

Seems like a gimmick to get users to pay for Webflow hosting. I don’t see how Webflows responsibilities change from the current setup. @Vlad says in the blog:

For example, exported form submission code can be manipulated to indicate that consent was given, while visually hiding a checkbox that asks a website visitor for that consent.

Does this mean that for all Webflow hosted sites, the Webflow team will ensure that all forms are properly set up with no hidden checkboxes so as to ensure that all sites are GDPR compliant?

Earlier in the post, when speaking about Webflow being the data processor, he says:

Because we have no control over the data our hosting customers collect or how they use it, Webflow is the data processor of personal data collected via websites hosted on our platform.

Sounds like a contradiction to his previous point. If Webflow is just the data processor, why does it matter how users collect the data whether hosted on Webflow or externally?

Or if there ever was an issue with an exported site and it’s GDPR compliance, Webflow could simply shut down form support for that site.

It’s annoying because form submissions on exported sites is something we’ve been paying for all along - the ability to export sites and use the form submissions and now that feature is being removed. Plus, depending on the number of exported sites that we have, we’re going to have to spend a good amount of time fixing up the forms so that they continue to work after Webflow discontinue support. Seems unfair to me. At the very least, they could grandfather these sites and support them.

Would love to hear other Webflowers take on it.


Do you even GDPR, bro?
#2

If it is true that forms dont work on exported sites. What is the alternatives?


#4

Ugh. This. Again.

I don’t know whose idea it is to repeatedly attempt to get people to pay for hosting by screwing over people who have built a small business, but I’m sick of seeing this keep popping up.

I’ve got ELEVEN sites hosted on my server, and part of how I was able to get those clients was to give them lifetime hosting for free. For that server, I spend $140 PER YEAR. Now, I’m going to have to spend $220 PER MONTH, which comes out to $2,640 PER YEAR… but wait, I can’t even get rid of my server at that price, because Webflow hosting, for $20 per month, still doesn’t do email or FTP. So, I’d be going from $140 per year for hosting to $2,780 per year for hosting, because of something as simple as passing along form data?

All said, I’d be handing $3,284 per year to Webflow. And for every subsequent client I get, it would be an additional $240 per year. And there would instantly be more, because I didn’t even count the clients that are hosting their own, and I’m using Zapier to handle their form submissions. So, sorry, Mr. Client, I know I said it would be one thing for your forms, but now it’s an extra $240 per year for every single one that I built. And, oh yeah, just one more kick in the teeth, that site is going to have to come off your server and you’re going to have to reconfigure your email and figure out something else for file storage.

I am left with either swallowing that cost myself, or passing that cost to them and risking losing clients because I LIED to them.

And all of this so that a checkbox “can’t” be hidden? Seriously? I don’t even live in the EU, and I’m expected to spend an additional $2,640 per year because somebody somewhere might hide a checkbox?

Not only that, but you can put an HTML embed into a form, and Webflow is apparently not checking the code on those anymore sooooooooooooooo… you could still hide a checkbox if you wanted to.

I love Webflow, and I am a fervent Webflow Evangelist, but I’m not paying an additional $2,640+ per year for the privilege of remaining one. This policy either has to go, or Webflow hosting has to evolve, or I’m going to have to go. I don’t know exactly WHERE I go, but I’ll have no choice other than to go, albeit sadly.


#5

@Cricitem, I understand your frustrations but there is always an option to use another form handling service for your form submissions. I haven’t looked into it yet but I’m sure there are free / low cost options out there. So it won’t cost you upward of $2,500 but it will take time (maybe a couple of days depending on how quick you can switch your sites over to the new form handling service) and maybe some money depending on which service you choose.

Still, it is a big inconvenience, could cost you a few days work and money which isn’t good enough @webflow


#6

Not sure yet but there definitely are alternatives. I’m sure Webflow will point us to some other service which will cost us time and money to set up.

In the GDPR blog post they say:

We’ll have more on this phase-out process in the coming weeks.


#7

Edited:

Can you guys give us an option in the settings area to hook up our forms to something 3rd party and cut Webflow out of the process for those who wish to export?

Vlad: Webflow already has this, either via a custom Action on each individual form or via something like our MailChimp Integration 4. :grinning:

Thanks for the update, Vlad!


#8

The bigger issue here is that we are being unnecessarily required to purchase Webflow hosting at a premium price but lacking basic features. If I institute a super-annoying workaround this time and spend my time over the next couple days implementing it (and paying for another service in the process), and change my entire workflow because a law in a country I don’t live in OR service… how long will it be before another angle is attempted to force me into overpriced and under-featured hosting?

This whole thing just smells like, “Well, at least we can use this to force more people onto Webflow hosting.”


#9

Maybe it’s just me, but the more I read about GDPR the more I see that it is really vague and a ‘let’s figure it out as we go’ approach.

As mentioned in Webflow’s blog and confirmed in a few other articles I compared it with, personal data can be anything as obscure as name, email address, and even social media handle (lol), basically anything that leaves a breadcrumb trail of who you might be. This is also known as being public domain, or stuff that is and has always been available outside of the internet in the real world. Why it is valuable now, who knows. Phone books have been printing this information and giving it out for free since forever.

Strait from the ICO, just take a look at the wording:

The GDPR sets a high standard for consent. But you often won’t need consent. If consent is difficult, look for a different lawful basis.

Basically it says you need consent, or maybe you don’t, or if it’s too hard to get it, figure something else out and we’ll decide if it’s lawful later.

This one is a real gem too:

The GDPR applies to ‘personal data’ meaning any information relating to an identifiable person who can be directly or indirectly identified in particular by reference to an identifier.

Hey, maybe it identifies a person, or maybe it doesn’t, but we can still bury you fines for up to 20 mil euros or 4% global supply, whichever is more.

I get what GDPR is trying to do, but it looks like it is framed on gray area and leaves way too much open for interpretation, and it isn’t reciprocal for both websites and users.

Curious what everyone thinks. Webflow says they are excited for it, but I remain skeptical until the language is cleaned up.


#10

I don’t actually think forms working after export was ever a planned feature. I believe it just worked due to how it was set-up, and it was never a promised feature. For example:

Can I host my site somewhere else?
On the Lite, Professional, and Team plans, you can export your website and host it anywhere you’d like. No attribution required. However, CMS Collections cannot be exported and forms (including site search) will stop working.

Here is a screenshot of that: https://cl.ly/1V0O1G0z2q45


#11

Yes. That happened about a year and a half ago, and individuals who were on plans which prior to that had handled form submissions on exported sites (which was an advertised feature of Webflow), were allowed to continue exporting sites with forms on them.

It’s not a bug.


#12

I’ve just switched from Adobe Muse two weeks ago.

Using forms on exported projects was absolutely no problem there.

They’ve used simple php-mail functionality.

I hope for a similar solution from Webflow.


#13

Looks like I was off on my estimation on how long this has been the case. It is apparently a every-two-years thing to talk about whether or not to make this change and I’m now neck-deep in this platform as opposed to knee-deep like the last time.


#15

Hey everyone, thank you for all the feedback. We’re listening, and I hope that I can answer the questions being raised here.

Since there’s a lot, I’ll try to respond point by point…

Seems like a gimmick to get users to pay for Webflow hosting.

For what it’s worth, this is not the reason behind this change. While it would be good for us for folks to sign up for more hosting on our platform, the vast majority of the Export use cases in Webflow have so many export-dependent requirements (e.g. code changes need to be made, conversion needs to happen to a WordPress theme, etc), requiring hosting for form submissions from exported sites would likely not even make a dent in our hosting revenue.

Does this mean that for all Webflow hosted sites, the Webflow team will ensure that all forms are properly set up with no hidden checkboxes so as to ensure that all sites are GDPR compliant?

No, unfortunately we cannot ensure this at this time, given the multi-faceted nature of GDPR requirements and the still-pending upcoming rules in the ePrivacy Regulation, which will be additional to the current GDPR regulations. However, it does make it significantly easier for us to implement future changes to our forms functionality to aid our customers in complying with regulations if there’s the common baseline assumption that form handling code cannot be modified or circumvented.

(As a tangential benefit, it also helps us build other form-based improvements – such as reCAPTCHA and file upload support – significantly faster.)

If Webflow is just the data processor, why does it matter how users collect the data whether hosted on Webflow or externally?

Even though we are “just” a data processor for form submissions, we still have to take reasonable steps to ensure that we are doing everything in our power to protect personal data. As a processor, we are required to map out and document exactly how personal data could be sent from browser to server – and on exported sites, we can’t map this out with certainty.

What is the alternatives?

One of the easiest integration options today is to send form submissions to MailChimp - we have a guide on how this can be set up.

We are in the process of creating additional guides on integrating exported forms with other external form providers, such as Wufoo.

it really seems as if they lack effective communication about these forms and how they operate

You’re right, and for that I personally apologize. :bowing_man:‍♂️ This has historically been an area of ambiguity in our pricing pages and feature listings, and that sucks. GDPR forced a conversation on this internally, and we’re now actively working to reconcile all of our internal and external documentation to make it clear that form submissions will not automatically work on exported code.

I have no option but to pay an experienced developer to reconfigure these forms for multiple clients.

To help with this, we’re going to extend the timeline of this migration for existing exported sites – and will be adding more content like our MailChimp Integration guide to make finding a developer not necessary.

We’re also considering extending the timeline for capturing form submissions beyond July 31st to give everyone more time to make this transition.

I don’t know whose idea it is to repeatedly attempt to get people to pay for hosting

As mentioned before, this is not the motivation. Sure, it does become easier to deal with this by hosting with Webflow, but that only applies to a tiny percentage of our export use cases – and would not make a material difference for Webflow’s business.

Not only that, but you can put an HTML embed into a form, and Webflow is apparently not checking the code on those anymore sooooooooooooooo… you could still hide a checkbox if you wanted to.

Yes, as long as that embed is an <iframe>, there’s already an expectation that Webflow is not in control of custom code as a data processor – similar to how we’re not in control of the data that might be collected by Google if a YouTube video is embedded on a published site. If, however, Webflow was directly offering a feature that is clearly not dependent on a 3rd party processor (such as our forms collection, or Background Videos), we have a heightened responsibility – at least from how we currently understand our role under the new GDPR rules.

I’m not paying an additional $2,640+ per year for the privilege of remaining [a customer]

If you use the MailChimp integration mentioned above (and some other free solutions we’ll be suggesting soon), there is no requirement for you to switch to our hosting solution to preserve form submission functionality.

Can you guys give us an option in the settings area to hook up our forms to something 3rd party and cut Webflow out of the process for those who wish to export?

Webflow already has this, either via a custom Action on each individual form or via something like our MailChimp Integration. :grinning:

I wish there was more focus and encouragement on the exporting of clean code for further development and hosting where you like. I want devs around the world to know webflow as the #1 platform for prototyping / quick development of front end etc and be backed by this amazing ability to export clean code and do with it what you like. Instead its tracking more towards these web builder platforms[…]

This change will actually make this distinction easier. By clearly separating form submissions as a hosting/platform function (similar to CMS, Site Search, ECommerce, etc), it frees up more of our design tooling team to build more general non-hosting features, such as CSS Grid Layout, Photo Galleries, etc.

However, it’s important to note why Webflow provides all the platform-level integrated features. The vast majority of people who use Webflow are professional designers who just want to create and deliver solutions for their clients - in most cases, they’re not expert coders, they don’t have easy access to developers, and don’t have the desire to set up their own server/hosting stack.

So creating a straightforward way for them to design and launch/run sites in production is a lifesaver, and in many cases means the difference between running a web design business and not being able to. For those folks that know how to export code, modify it, and run a server – that’s great, but for the majority that’s not the case, and Webflow provides a lot of added convenience.

I hope all that makes sense, and please let me know if you have additional questions. Thank you for reading! :bowing_man:‍♂️


#16

@callmevlad Thanks for the comprehensive response and explanation.

@Thomas_92 @Cricitem @Robit97 @NewInBoston
I just set up one of my forms with a new service called Formcarry - www.formcarry.com

Pretty quick and easy to set up.

  • Will need to make a new account for each website but I’ll just use alias email addresses of my own for each site.
  • Then change the form to POST and add the Action URL.
  • Then export the site and that’s it!

It’s a bit of hassle but nothing too strenuous (depending on how many externally hosted sites you have!)


#17

Thanks for the detailed follow up Vlad. I should have mentioned in my previous response that I understand why GDPR is forcing Webflow’s hand and that this is not a ruse of some sort to force hosting onto others.

I didn’t realize the form action was an option, thanks for pointing that out. I’ll edit my previous post!

Learning everyday… :slight_smile:


#18

Wait…

Does this also apply to forms that are sending data to Zapier?


#19

I’m not sure if it does. Try it


#20

I can’t try it. I won’t know until Webflow breaks all of my forms. I doubt I’ll get an answer otherwise.

This garbage is probably going to put me out of business. I wish I were being melodramatic. This is about to cost me a [redacted] amount of money.


#21

Why can’t you try it? It takes a few minutes only.


#22

I already have a Zapier account for one of my clients who has emails automatically generate a salesforce lead.

If this breaks that…