The digital revolution may have changed the way much of the world operates, but some tasks, such as filling out medical forms and registering for youth soccer teams, are still best done with a pen and paper.
Much of the information entered on photocopied forms probably ends up in a computer database at some point, but a system that eliminates the traditional questionnaire has yet to be widely embraced by non-techies.
Bruce Butrum and Mark Johns, founders of Littlearth Inc., believe they have found a way to make Web-based forms quick to develop and easy to use. The Gaithersburg start-up has been working on its flagship product for two years and plans to officially launch the system today. Littlearth's technology allows users to create customized forms that can then be distributed through the Internet. Replies are organized in a spreadsheet-like database. The company's founders think their system is applicable in a variety of situations, including restaurant order forms, job applications, church registries and opinion polls.
"If you can turn on a computer and you can read, you can build Web sites connected to databases," Butrum said of the system, which can be accessed at Formshere.com. The product differs from existing technologies because it is based on a computer language Littlearth developed to ease the process for users with little technical knowledge, he said.
But Littlearth is far from the first to create form-building technology for the Web, and it will compete with a number of existing sites, including Createforms.com, Response-O-Matic.com, CreateSurvey.com and FreeSurveysOnline.com.
Littlearth plans to charge $15 for each form. The company also plans to sell a licensed version for businesses that need to distribute large numbers of forms.