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Creating an online payment form

paypal integrationThe implementation of an online payment feature is currently a pretty common request for websites. This has been one of the traditionally headaches for Web developers since the process of integrating a payment gateway to a web page can become a large sequence of errors and wasted time.

For most payment gateways the process of adding a simple payment link or donate button is easy and fast, but when the process requires the integration of the payment button with a form to capture additional information about the user's request, the complexity of the code is dramatically increased.

This review is about the PayPal Payment Form Dreamweaver extension, a tool designed to convert a classic web form into a payment form integrated with the PayPal payment gateway. While the use of this extension is easy and fast, to explain its complete details can be very complex since it includes many features with a lot of technical details... fortunately we don't need to know the technical details to use it, so this review will be focused in the external behaviors.

PayPal is the most popular payment gateway and our experience shows that accepting PayPal as payment method is an effective way to increase the sales due to the protection and trust that it offers to the buyers. Based on this information we can explain why PayPal was the gateway selected for the PayPal Payment Form. PHP was the script selected for the implementation since it is supported by most webservers today.

The PayPal Payment Form solves two important problems: the first one is to save the information that the user entered into the form and the second one is to forward the user to the payment page keeping that payment linked to the information submitted... and the most important thing: all this can be done without dealing with the code but using a visual dialog from the Dreamweaver's menu.

To achieve these goals, after submitting the form the information is saved into a MySQL database and a copy of that information is sent by email to the seller as a notification of a new request. These features, like all the features present in this extension, are performed in a transparent way for both the web developer and the end user.

payment formAfter saving the information submitted, the buyer is automatically redirected to the PayPal payment page where the payment can be completed and then return to a "thank you" page into the website. The "thank you" page can be used to give further information to the buyer, support phone, etc...

So far we have an extension that automatically processes a form, saves the info into a database, sends email notifications to the seller, processes the payment, sends payment notifications to the buyer,... but this extension goes a little further: it includes a web-based administration panel that allows to browse the information saved from the form to the database, an additional feature that would appreciate the seller to keep the data safe and to study the successful and incomplete (un-paid) requests.

The steps and configuration needed to create a "payment form" using this product are minimal; all that can be automatically done has been taken in account. The videos and information available in the PayPal Payment Form's webpage are enough to get a good idea and go directly to the use of the product; however a good practice is to read the entire documentation before proceeding with the development.

There is a short note in the documentation pointing to a way to dynamically calculate the amount to pay; only the basic information is provided there since the final implementation depends of your own project requirements, anyway there is always the support service if you need further information or assistance to customize the product.

Finally we would like to remark that the PayPal Payment Form does what it proposes: makes a lot easier the process of integrating a form with an online payment and allows to a larger number of web designer and developers to implement payment forms without dealing with the technical details.