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---
layout: default
navPage: docs
heading: Getting Started
breadcrumbs:
- User Documentation,/userdoc/
- Getting Started
next: Form Tools Components,/userdoc/getting_started/components/
page_type: introduction
categories: userdoc
tags: basics
---
{% include open_section.html nav='nav_userdoc_getting_started.html' selected='getting_started' %}
<p>
If you're new to Form Tools, this is where you should start! It contains a general introduction to the script
so you have an idea of what it does and how it works.
</p>
<h3>About Form Tools</h3>
<p>
Form Tools is a <i>forms framework</i> written in PHP and MySQL. You download and install the script on your
own website. At its heart, Form Tools is a <strong>web form creator, processor, data storage and access
script</strong>. It was originally designed to work with any existing web form, but has since been expanded
to create forms automatically as well.
</p>
<p>
Form Tools is extremely versatile in how it integrates with your forms. You can use the
bundled <a href="{{site.baseurl}}/modules/form_builder/">Form Builder module</a>
to create the forms automatically on your website (no programming or HTML skills necessary); you can use the
<a href="{{site.baseurl}}/api">PHP API</a> to integrate your own custom form with the script; or you can
simply POST your form to Form Tools, and just use it to store the form data. Anything goes! You can read about the
different integration methods / form creation methods <a href="{{site.baseurl}}/userdoc/form_management/form_types/">here</a>.
</p>
<p>
Form Tools works by creating custom database tables to store your unique form data. It provides a range of
functionality customized to your data set, such as allowing you to view, update, cross-reference and export
your submission data, create subsets of your data for viewing/editing by "client" accounts, data visualizations,
and much more.
</p>
<p>
To our knowledge, there's no other script out there that was designed in the same way - or
any that provide anywhere near the degree of control over your data that Form Tools affords you.
</p>
<h3>Feature Highlights</h3>
<p>
Here are some of the script's key features:
</p>
<div class="row">
<div class="col-lg-2">
<strong>Free!</strong>
</div>
<div class="col-lg-10">
Yup! Form Tools is available under the GNU Public License, free for anyone to download and modify.
</div>
</div>
<div class="row">
<div class="col-lg-2">
<strong>Re-usable</strong>
</div>
<div class="col-lg-10">
A single installation can handle as many forms as you wish - even from different
websites. You can set up as many client accounts as you wish, enabling multiple
users to log in, view and manage their own data online. Form Tools 2 provides a
wide palette of permission settings to allow you to precisely customize who sees
what.
</div>
</div>
<div class="row">
<div class="col-lg-2">
<strong>Generic</strong>
</div>
<div class="col-lg-10">
Very little modification to the web forms is needed to allow Form Tools to store
their content. It works with virtually any web form!
</div>
</div>
<div class="row">
<div class="col-lg-2">
<strong>Brandable</strong>
</div>
<div class="col-lg-10">
By simply designing a default image and changing a few default values in the
Setup Options, you may customize Form Tools as belonging to your own company.
The entire script is theme-based, using Smarty templates to generate the HTML.
If need be, you can customize the UI for each of your clients so that it looks
completely different for each user.
</div>
</div>
<div class="row">
<div class="col-lg-2">
<strong>Extensible</strong>
</div>
<div class="col-lg-10">
Form Tools 2 is fully modular, and some additional
<a href="{{site.baseurl}}/module_development/">documentation</a> has been
written to help you extend the script in whatever way you need. In addition, one of
our main goals was to allow strong integration between our script and the outside
world. For example, it was designed to be used in conjunction with other software,
such as online credit card payment processing; the script is also designed to allow
data export in a variety of (customizable) formats, such as XML. And, of course,
since the code is downloadable for free under the GNU Public License, you can always access and edit
the code yourself!
</div>
</div>
{% include close_section.html %}