WPChill is now the owner of Gutenberg Forms, a project created by Munir Kamal. While still rough around the edges a year ago, the plugin was updated regularly and was something to at least keep an eye on as it matured. Extendify acquired it alongside Kamal’s Editor Plus and Gutenberg Hub at the end of 2020.
Then, Gutenberg Forms seemed to stall. Since Extendify took over the project, outside of bug fixes, most of the changes revolved around the addition of its commercial template and pattern library. However, the plugin still racked up over 1,000 active installs and a 4.6-star rating.
Cristian Raiber, the CEO of WPChill, said he had discussed acquiring the plugin early on. However, he backed out before closing the deal because his company already owned Kali Forms, a commercial forms solution.
“After a while of not gaining enough market share with Kali Forms, we circled back, and luckily, this time around, Chris Lubkert, the CEO of Extendify, was actually looking for someone to take over the project (adopt it) and keep it going,” he said.
There are no plans to merge the two form solutions. Both plugins serve different markets.
“Kali Forms is a more complex and complete solution whereas Gutenberg Forms just focuses on simpler forms, which also makes it limited in functionality but also in scope,” said Raiber. “There’s a market for people who just need a basic form solution built into Gutenberg, and we just happen to be the new owners of that solution.”
Gutenberg Forms is still in its infancy, and there are many paths the new development team could take. Given enough time and resources, WPChill could shake up the free forms market.
The first order of business will be clearing the backlog of issues, according to Raiber. Then, his team will focus on new features as requested by users.
“Features such as the ability to build Quizzes or even more field types that will unlock even more powerful form types,” he said. “There’s also quite a bit of overlap with our existing plugins. A bunch of our plugins are already providing a form functionality that’s…well, kind of limited and hard to maintain at the same time. A goal I’d see us pursuing is removing those form components from our existing plugins and instead recommending Gutenberg Forms as a one-click install module.”
Such a solution would allow his team to focus its efforts on a single code base. Then, they can extend their other plugins without recreating bits and pieces across each project.
“For our Strong Testimonials plugin, we’ve had people ask several times if the form collection plugin could be used for something else as well,” said Raiber. “Right now, that’s not possible, unfortunately. We’ve got a knowledge base + help desk plugin as well that could benefit from an enhanced form solution, such as Gutenberg Forms.”
Currently, his team is about halfway through migrating all of their plugins into the block system. He said they are fully committed and on board with being a “Gutenberg-first” plugin shop.
“The market’s full of form plugins, and they’re all competing on features, pricing, and really complex scenarios,” he said. “But what happens to those people that just need a simpler solution for free? My really long-term goal here is to be able to keep Gutenberg Forms 100% free and maybe become a worthy alternative to the aging Contact Form 7, a form solution that’s got a really huge technical debt and has been poised with a lot of bugs. And that’s normal for a plugin that’s grown that big and has been around for that long without a team around it.”
Raiber wanted to point out that they are not looking to compete with popular commercial solutions with Gutenberg Forms. A paid version is not even on the roadmap.
Commercially, they plan to integrate with their other projects and get users to jump on their other pro plugins. The goal is to disrupt the free forms market.