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Using Feedback-forms with a configuration file

By using a configuration file with Feedback-forms, you can choose a combination of actions depending on the system configuration of your server.

Unless you are a provider on, feedback-forms can also be used without a configuration file.

To use a configuration file with Feedback-forms, follow these steps:

  1. Write the configuration file
  2. Edit your form
  3. Check the filepaths
  4. Set proper file permissions
  5. Test your form

  1. Write the configuration file

    As the person setting up the feedback form using a configuration file, you must write the configuration file that tells the feedback-forms script how to process your form. The name of your configuration file must end with a  .conf  extension. For example,


    In the specified response file, header file, footer file, log file, and/or message to be emailed you can use variables which refer to:

    1. input values of the form
    2. certain environment settings allowed by the program
    3. date and time values

    • Input values - To refer to an input value, use  $F  and then the the input tag "name" that you used in the form.

      The following is an example of an input tag in a form:

      <input type="text" name="FullName">
      To refer to the value that the web user has input into this field, use

      If you wanted to mail this value to yourself, the message section of your configuration file might include the following:

      Name: $FFullName
      If the web user inputs "John Doe" into this field, the string that is actually mailed would be:
      Name: John Doe

      To obtain all possible input names and their values from your form without having to explicitly specify those input names, use  $FALLVARS . This will result in a list like:

      FullName: John Doe
      Phone: 215-898-0000

    • Environment variables - See a description of CGI environment variables available from NCSA. To refer to an environment variable, you would use  $E  and then the name of the environment variable. Please note that some environment variables have been nulled out for privacy reasons.

      If you want to refer to the browser that was used when the user filled out your form, use

      To include the user's browser in the message to be mailed, include a line like the following in the message section of your configuration file:
      Browser: $EHTTP_USER_AGENT
      You will be mailed a string like:
      Browser: Mozilla/4.51 [en] (Win95; I)

      Use $EALLVARS to obtain all possible names of environment variables and their values.

    • Date and Time - The following date and time variables are available:

      • $Dsecond - seconds
      • $Dminute - minutes
      • $Dhour - hour
      • $Dday - day of the month
      • $Dweekday - day of the week
      • $Dyday - day of the year
      • $Dmonth - month of the year
      • $Dyear - year
      • $Disdst - DST/EST flag

    See our documentation on specific configuration directives that you can use.

  2. Once you've made your configuration choices, the form tag must be edited accordingly The form tag is usally made up of two components, the method and the action.

    • Form method
      The method when using Feedback-forms should always be


    • Form action

      • The action will always start with

      • You would then add to the action, the URL path to your configuration file minus the http://[server-name]


        URL -
        Form Tag - <form method=POST action="/cgi-bin/feedback-forms/computing/security/secure.conf">

        URL -
        Form Tag - <form method=POST action="/cgi-bin/feedback-forms/~joeuser/request.conf">

      • If you are using the Download: directive, you are allowing the user to download a file that cannot be viewed with a browser. The user's browser will instead prompt the user to save the file to his/her local workstation. To force the local workstation to default to the proper name of the file, you should append the name of your binary file to the form action.


        Binary File - scrt31.exe
        Form Tag - <form method=POST action="/cgi-bin/feedback-forms/software/securecrt/scrt-form.conf/scrt31.exe">

        Binary File -
        Form Tag - <form method="POST" action="/cgi-bin/feedback-forms/overview/form.conf/">

  3. Check the filepaths for all components of Feedback-forms as specified in your configuration file. If you are FTP'ing your files to the server, make sure that you place the feedback-forms files into the proper locations as specified in your configuration file,

  4. Set the proper permissions on all your files.

  5. Test your form. If you are having problems, you can contact webtech-help [at] but please include the URL of the form and your configuration file and any error messages that have been returned by Feedback-forms.


Information Systems and Computing
University of Pennsylvania
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