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Building the Basics

The Department of Better Technology helps governments deliver great digital services to the people who depend on them.

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Screendoor: online forms for grownups.

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Adding a new type of form field in Screendoor

Besides seeking feedback from our users, we keep a close eye on the forms they publish. Seeing all these great forms really helps us guide Screendoor’s product direction.

Here’s one example we wanted to share. Over the past few months, we’ve seen several users create form fields like these, asking respondents to agree to certain conditions before they continue:

checkbox field as a confirmation

Screendoor’s form builder lets users add checkbox fields, but they aren’t designed for a single option with a blank label. That’s why the asterisk indicating a required field appears in the screenshot above. We considered changing the behavior of checkbox fields to remove the stray asterisk. But ultimately, we decided to create a new type of field, one that would more clearly fit a user’s mental model of providing confirmation.

So, that’s all to say that we shipped a new field type today: “Confirm.” It looks like this:

confirmation field

Screendoor users can now take advantage of this new field type to create better-looking, more semantic forms that are easier to understand. And we’ll continue looking for ways to make our customers’ forms even better.

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A whole slew of Screendoor updates

We’ve been quiet for the past month or two! Here’s a peek of what we’ve been up to:

Improved message presets :love_letter:

screenshot of message presets

We’ve re-worked the user flow for sending messages. Not only can you now add a name to your message presets to make them easier to identify, you can also tweak their contents before sending them. This should be a great time-saver!

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Scheduling appointments with Screendoor

This week I heard from a government official whose department plans to host office hours to stay in touch with the public. He had looked at various software tools for scheduling these meetings, but nothing offered both the power and simplicity he needed. He wanted his staff to be able to manage meeting requests and quickly send meeting details to attendees. Above all, the tool needed to be accessible to the public, especially people with limited connectivity or technology skills.

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Join the CPNN community call featuring ProPublica and Screendoor

It’s an exciting time if you’re in charge of community engagement in a newsroom. Technology has made it easier to ask readers to contribute to your reporting. But with all the new tools and platforms out there, you might be wondering: what’s the best way to get started?

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Building a nomination form with Screendoor

Recently, a client asked us how to build a “nomination form” inside of Screendoor. In this instance, the client was running a fellowship program and wanted to allow members of the public to nominate potential fellows. Nominees would receive an email informing them that they had been nominated, and asking them if they would like to apply.

We responded, detailing how this could easily be built by using our integration with Zapier. We liked this solution so much that we decided to share it with you, too.

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