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Auto-filling webforms with Zapier (or another tool)

  • 21 October 2019
  • 12 replies
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So I have a client with a custom-built CRM that doesn't have an API.

Developing one isn't an option right now - so instead they are looking for options to auto-fill and submit some input forms they've created.

Anyone have any experience/suggestions about this?


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Best answer by PaulKortman 21 October 2019, 21:55

Okay I love this community and especially in this situation this thread. Turns out Brian called a bunch of Zapier experts (anyone he could find a phone number to call!) and left messages with or spoke with them.


So I just called him back not knowing he was the same client from this thread and I got a bit more information from him. I'm going to do a little digging on the capibilities, but I suspect this is going to be a tough nut to crack. The CRM is https://www.reiblackbook.com/ and here's an example form: http://u102909.h.reiblackbook.com/new_zips___arizona/ he does not have the ability to put javascript on that form.

REIBlackBook also offers a CSV import which I got really excited about until the client informed me that they need it to be imported within minutes of acquiring the lead, so a daily batch import will not work for him.

This is a tough one and I suspect it cannot be done without significant effort and significant possibilities for error in data injection etc.


However I did discover that this "CRM" is built in wordpress... huh... the form submits to an empty iframe on the page... I was hoping for a POST url and I could just webhook into that, but I'm not familiar with forms that submit to an on-page iframe.


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Hey @Andrew_Luhhu — sounds like a fun one! 😂

My initial reaction is to throw a few questions at you:

  • Are these web-based input forms?
  • Would it be the goal that incoming data from somewhere would be "sent" to these forms?
  • Also, presumably there's a back-end database. Is that online or in the cloud or otherwise accessible via some kind of scripting, perhaps? Any idea what database platform it's using?


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Hi @TheDavidJohnson

Right now it's Yes, Yes and No (although maybe I can push the client down this route if there isn't an easier way).


Userlevel 5

OK well... given those answers, I'd say that this could be done with Javascript. The key would be to define the DOM elements for the fields and then use a script to fill them.

There are some open source projects that have done the heavy lifting for this kind of project. One example I found with a quick Google search is Locust, which is purpose-built to detect and fill login forms (for a browser extension that connects to a password manager), but the idea is more or less the same.

Whether that is actually a good idea in practice is another question.

Ultimately, it's likely going to be best to be able to push the data directly into their database somehow, rather than try to shoehorn it into a webform. The complexity associated with that process seems pretty high. I'm obviously speaking without any actual knowledge of the details, of course, but speaking generally, it seems painful and fraught with difficulties.


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@TheDavidJohnson - this isn’t actually a client of mine, rather an inquiry from a potential one.

Seeing as what you’ve described is outside my comfort zone, would you want me to refer this lead to you? If so DM me your email address.


Userlevel 5

Thanks for the offer, @Andrew_Luhhu. I appreciate the referral very much!


Userlevel 7
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Okay I love this community and especially in this situation this thread. Turns out Brian called a bunch of Zapier experts (anyone he could find a phone number to call!) and left messages with or spoke with them.


So I just called him back not knowing he was the same client from this thread and I got a bit more information from him. I'm going to do a little digging on the capibilities, but I suspect this is going to be a tough nut to crack. The CRM is https://www.reiblackbook.com/ and here's an example form: http://u102909.h.reiblackbook.com/new_zips___arizona/ he does not have the ability to put javascript on that form.

REIBlackBook also offers a CSV import which I got really excited about until the client informed me that they need it to be imported within minutes of acquiring the lead, so a daily batch import will not work for him.

This is a tough one and I suspect it cannot be done without significant effort and significant possibilities for error in data injection etc.


However I did discover that this "CRM" is built in wordpress... huh... the form submits to an empty iframe on the page... I was hoping for a POST url and I could just webhook into that, but I'm not familiar with forms that submit to an on-page iframe.


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Haha - well @TheDavidJohnson, @PaulKortman has summarised what you’re up against (he got into it further with Brian than I did it seems).

If you still want the intro let me know and I’ll do that tomorrow.


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And the fun part is I was able to submit a test lead via a POST to the form URL and it went into the CRM... so it's WAAY easier than any of us expected! it's just a simple webhook post to the URL for the form (mapping the field names takes a bit of work, but will need to be done once for each form and then boom it'll work (like magic)!


Userlevel 5

Well @PaulKortman, I did a little checking on the URLs you sent. It looks like that WP site has a plugin at a path that looks like this:

/wp-content/plugins/insite-plugins/insite-forms/

I did a little digging around, and the only sites I can find that particular plugin in use seem to be real estate sites—probably related to or using the same CRM. Kinda makes me think the plugin is custom-coded or otherwise private.

Undoubtedly, that form is stashing data into a database. I'd wager it's MySQL and either it's the same database as that WordPress install (could be a mult-site WP install) or else it's on the same DB server or network.

The developers of the CRM could sort out access to that MySQL database, assuming they were willing to cooperate. Zapier has an excellent MySQL connector.

Without their cooperation (the devs of that system), I don't think this is going anywhere.

My next question would be: do they (the potential client) get an email or other notification when a form gets filled? If so, it's probably more or less standard, and the data could be parsed out of the email and then used in Zapier.

Thanks, @Andrew_Luhhu! I'd be happy to help the client, but since the client is already talking with @PaulKortman as well, let's not muddy the waters. Paul, feel free to let me know if you think I can be helpful.

Cheers!


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@TheDavidJohnson you already were helpful in explaining the potential pitfalls so when I got on the phone with the client I was able to sound smarter than I am ;)

And indeed it would be cool to toss the data into the database directly, but I can bypass all of that through a POST webhook to the Form URL... sure it might break in the future if the plugin developers change something, but that happens all the time and is a known potential issue... However, this is a much simpler way of making this happen instead of begging for database access which I can imagine a plugin developer/website host would be hesitant to give.

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Userlevel 5

Awesome, @PaulKortman! I hope that webhook POST works beautifully for a long time to come.

LOL @ Little Bobby Tables. such a classic!!


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Now this discussion in why I love this community... thanks to you both we've got one happy customer 😀



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