Plugin Review – Dynamic WordPress Form Builder

Published 03 Jun 2013 in Opinion, Plugins, Usability, WordPress by ZigPress

Let’s face it, forms are one of the most important parts of a website, and yet they’re also one of the things that WordPress really doesn’t do well. Out of the box, the only available form is a post comment form, and even that could be improved in many ways.

Because of this, every WordPress developer needs a good form plugin that they can use on many sites for many different purposes. There are free ones available, but they all suffer from various problems. For example, Contact Form 7 doesn’t store form submissions in the database, and is therefore effectively useless. CForms II is quite powerful but the admin pages are clumsy and counter-intuitive. And the free version of Formidable is too limited in functionality compared to its Pro version.

Many WordPress developers (including myself) end up using a commercial solution, which pretty much means either Gravity Forms or Formidable Pro. Having used both, I feel that Formidable Pro has the edge over Gravity Forms, and it’s also considerably cheaper (no annual renewals). So for the last year I’ve used Formidable Pro on a wide range of websites and although it’s not perfect, it’s proved to be pretty versatile. I would love to author a powerful form plugin myself, but every time I use Formidable Pro I decide to put it off for another month or two.

New Kid on the Block

Recently I was contacted by the developers of a new pretender to the form plugin throne, asking if I would review their new Dynamic WordPress Form Builder plugin. It’s billed as being easy to use but powerful, with features for beginners and professionals.

It’s available on the WordPress plugin repository, and is therefore currently free. Judging by the spiel on the authors’ website, an enhanced commercial version will be released at some point, making their business model very similar to that of Formidable Forms. Downloading it gives you a whopping 2.4Mb zip file – my first reaction was that something this big had better be good. Really big plugins can cause updating problems on slow hosts due to PHP timeouts – something to keep in mind.

I installed and enabled the plugin on a WordPress 3.5.1 test site I run on my local development server. I switched the test site to use the Twenty Ten theme (which rarely conficts with anything), and I disabled all other plugins for good measure. When unzipped I noticed that the plugin’s folder is called ‘dynamic-plugin’ – something that identified it more uniquely would have been sensible.

Security Key

After activation, the first thing I noticed when heading to the plugin’s options page was a small form with a security key field prepopulated. This form was not annotated or explained in any way, and the rest of the page is dedicated to asking for a subscription for technical support (USD 10.00 for 3 months). Did the plugin ‘phone home’ to get that key when I activated it? Does that security key contain a code that uniquely identifies my installation? I feel very strongly that plugins should not phone home, and if they do, they should make it clear before doing it. This security key may be harmless – it may just be used to encrypt local data – but if so, I should be told this.


So much for the general options page. I clicked on the next admin page which is called ‘Table Settings‘. Here I found a cryptic form asking for a name, email and number of rows. At this stage I had absolutely no clue what to do here. With a sigh I went looking for documentation.

There is a video on the authors’ site but that was just sales spiel and after 30 seconds I’d had enough of listening to the extremely poor English grammar spoken by clumsily animated avatars. Luckily there is a ‘User Guide‘ link on the site so I started reading.

Unfortunately this didn’t help much – the user guide talks about creating tables since all data is stored in tables – but wait, didn’t the plugin create its own tables when it was activated? Yes it did. And their names don’t start with the WordPress prefix either. For the first field in the cryptic form, the user guide says “This option represents the representation name of the forms group. All forms refer to one table that is stored in the database.” Not helpful at all – what is a representation name, what is a forms group, and didn’t it just contradict itself? Anyway, I entered some information into the form and saved it.

Not sure what I had achieved, I went to the next admin page called ‘Table Fields/Forms‘ (again, what’s with the tables?). On first sight this looked more promising – I might actually get to create a form. And after some messing around with buttons and icons, I succeeded in adding a couple of fields to my form, and placing those fields into the WYSIWYG editor on the right.

But this shows the stark contrast between this plugin and (say) Formidable Pro. Here, it looks like I am expected to create a layout for my form from scratch. And when I clicked the save button it asked me if I was sure I wanted to save the new default form design. Er, no – I’m trying to create a contact form, not alter any defaults. And how do I enter the text that appears on the Submit button? I couldn’t find a way to do this, and I’m far from stupid. At this point I gave up in disgust.

Conclusion / Confusion

After 20 minutes playing around in the plugin’s admin pages, I felt like I’d gone 5 rounds in a boxing ring – everything was a struggle, whether trying to decipher the meaning of an icon, trying to work out when information had been saved, trying to work out why it called a form a table in one place and a form in another, or trying to follow the poorly written and poorly organised user guide.

Contrast this to Formidable Pro, which provides built-in basic layouts, easy to edit CSS, useful form templates, drag and drop field adding, custom hooks, and a whole load of other little touches designed to make it easy to use. Within 20 minutes of installing Formidable Pro for the first time, I had 3 forms working on my site, all looking smart and consistent.

Don’t Bother

Sometimes when a new plugin becomes available, it changes the way we look at certain tasks and becomes an indispensable part of our toolbox. Dynamic WordPress Form Builder is not one of those plugins. Quite frankly, it’s a mess and needs many, many hours of rebuilding. It also needs input from someone with half a clue about usability – its processes are not easily followed, its screen layouts are jumbled and it expects you to talk its language, rather than talking yours. And its language isn’t even good English – the authors’ site, including the user guide, reads like it’s been translated into English from Hindi by Google.

Do yourself a favour and give this plugin a wide berth. There are so many better offerings available. Even the free CForms II is easier to use than this. And it doesn’t even bear comparison to Formidable Pro or Gravity Forms. Sometimes it’s worth paying a little for quality.


  1. On 03 Jun 2013 at 16:11, Andrew said:

    Thank you for the honest review. I have come across many plugins that sound good at first, but are just a pain to actually use. I think I will go with Gravity.

    – Andrew

  2. On 05 Jun 2013 at 12:27, Ady said:


    Totally agree with all of these points – it should be mandatory reading for every would-be guest poster.


  3. On 08 Jun 2013 at 20:17, Steven Sweat said:

    Not sure I’m ready to eat up that much space on this one but, it does sound useful.

  4. On 09 Jun 2013 at 12:35, best eye cream said:

    Such direct to the point reviews. Pros and cons were mentioned in clarity.

  5. On 12 Jun 2013 at 21:43, John Gough said:

    Well done, a really independent review. I do agree that hefty plugins are risky when it comes to upgrades. Currently I have a problem with one of my sites following a Wordpress upgrade, and it is proving difficult to fix.

    Cheers John

  6. On 14 Jun 2013 at 09:41, PV PIXELS said:

    Well, thanks for letting us know of what you felt about the plugin. Your points are very clear and easily understandable.

  7. On 18 Jun 2013 at 10:58, JackLee said:

    Thank you for the honest review. I have come across many plugins that sound good at first, but are just a pain to actually use. I think I will go with Gravity.

  8. On 19 Jun 2013 at 15:40, Rick Miles said:

    Great review. Nice analogy of having gone 5 rounds in a boxing ring!

  9. On 23 Jun 2013 at 02:26, Dave said:

    I totally agree with you about the Dynamic WordPress Form Builder.

    I managed to enter the text that appears on the Submit button.

    But there are some more issues:
    1. Unique and mandatory not set though saved.
    2. Can’t save Captcha as TRUE.

  10. On 25 Jun 2013 at 12:25, Alan Smith said:

    Nice, Straight and clean review. Thanks for sharing your opinion it will help lots of web developers to make their decision.

  11. On 28 Jun 2013 at 22:02, Christian @ Marwick Marketing said:

    I agree, I took over a website for a landscaping company in Canada and they were getting 200 odd spam e-mails everyday becuase they had an open source form! Crazy

  12. On 09 Jul 2013 at 22:41, Jordan said:

    glad to get a honest unbiased review on something for a change. I dont trust most reviews i read as i feel im being sold something

  13. On 14 Jul 2013 at 22:28, best eye cream said:

    Forms are essential in bogging. You have presented this review in an honest way.

  14. On 17 Jul 2013 at 22:08, Long Distance Moving Companies said:

    This is really good post. I like your honesty and after reading your post, I actually will think more about Dynamic WordPress Form Builder ( I was considering it). Thanks a lot, I will visit your blog again. Good job.

  15. On 29 Jul 2013 at 20:25, Kelsey B said:

    Thanks for reviewing this plug in. There are so many out there that it gets confusing to pick out the ones that are actually beneficial. Now I know not to check this one out. Thanks!

  16. On 04 Aug 2013 at 20:37, Ankit said:

    Thank you for the honest review. I have come across many plugins that sound good at first, but are just a pain to actually use. I think I will go with Gravity…

  17. On 13 Aug 2013 at 14:34, Saji said:

    This is good review on the wordpress plugin. We have seen many plugins that sound good at first sight, but some of them are not working effectively. This is really an honest review on dynamic wordpress form builder and we totally agree with your points. Thanks for sharing unbiased review.

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