My business is a service business so receiving email leads is the same as a shopping cart for a product business.
With that in mind I've been keen to move away from cformsII to something I thought would be a more robust way of handling leads. Gravity Forms have a good reputation so I forked out some money for a license.
Here's the story, for what it's worth.
1. Day 1. Install gravity forms on WP 2.9.2. No problem, everything works well. Easy to use, very pleased.
2. Start to test email notifications from my contact me form. Received the email in the Entries folder but no email notification forwarded. Saw that I need to install a smtp plugin. No problem.
3. Installed wp-email-smtp and confirmed settings for my Google Apps email. All good. Still no email notification.
4. Checked gravity forms forums. Saw all the issues. Decided to sleep on it and reinstalled cformsII (which does work).
5. Day 2. Sat down and wondered whether this was worth the effort, jeez it was only a form... but my leads came through it, so pressed on.
Started trolling through the gravity forms folder:
FAQ « Gravity
FAQ « Gravity
Administrator emails « Gravity Support Forums
Email Notifications Not Being Dispatched « Gravity Support Forums
Notifications HELP! « Gravity Support Forums
No notification e-mails being sent « Gravity Support Forums
Gravity Support Forums
FAQ « Gravity
Settings « Gravity
Notifications « Gravity
6. Figured that Gravity Forms was correct that is was an smtp issue and focused on the wp-mail-smtp plugin, in particular
Nice chap that Callum and good on him for offering a free plugin. But after a while I figured he was correct it was a server issue (php.ini). Next stop my web hosting company nexcess.net.
7. I've had a very good experience with my nexcess reseller account so I thought I'd find the answer there. Not in the knowledge base.
8. Really started to wonder if my contact form was that important... decided it was.
9. Knowledge base said that if I wanted to change the php.ini I would have to contact them. Fair enough, it was smtp and with all those crackers out there...
10. Contacted nexcess. They said "We don't offer open smtp access you need to authenticate in order to use our smtp server." And also suggested changing the port to 587.
Still no luck.
11. While they're checking authentication have more coffee and lunch.
12. Numerous exchanges of emails.
13. More coffee.
14. Nexcess suggests I don't use smtp.gmail but their own server. Makes perfect sense. And works to my gmail address.
The Solution in wp-mail-smtp:
-use smtp authentication
15. But not to my google apps gmail address. I was so close...
The lesson for me - don't keep digging that hole.
Lesson for Gravity Forms - my opinion is that this is an incomplete solution for the most important form of all - Contact Me form. A complete solution, like a shopping cart with paypal/google checkout/authorize.net etc, needs to integrate with the most common services. I think that gmail is a fairly common service ;) and my server runs on LAMP. A missing bit of information took 24 hours to track down, making this probably the most expensive plugin I've ever purchased - and I'm still goin'. Boy am I a sucker for punishment, thank god this isn't for a client.
The guy from wp-mail-smtp is looking for someone to takeover support of his plugin, perhaps its time to do that or create a fork for your own plugin.
Alternatively provide a much better knowledge base for the email notification part. Or a disclaimer that its not really a full solution for a contact form. I dunno but this just isn't the best experience from a fellow start-uper.
Right time for more coffee.