tech, simplified.

Form builders are some of the more fascinating pieces of software since they're so versatile. You'd likely only think to reach for Wufoo or Typeform or Gravity Forms if you wanted to add a contact page or order form to your website—but there's so much more you could do with just a form, especially when you combine it with built-in integrations or Zapier connections to other apps.

From automatically saving your form data to a spreadsheet to building your own custom CRM or scheduling app from a form—complete with automated followup emails, assigned tasks, appointments and more—there's dozens of ways you could use forms. In this article on the Zapier blog, you'll find some of the best ways to put a form to work, each with examples from real companies about how they've used forms to get more done.

Ever wondered how working remotely would work when you're on the other side of the world from your team? The Zapier team's spread across the US, then with three international team members in England, Spain, and Thailand—and we've found ways to make the time difference work out, even to our advantage in some ways.

Here's some tips about how to make the most of working with a distributed team.

Add Instagram Photo Previews Back to Twitter with Zapier

It's perhaps the smallest problem in the world, but it's still annoying that Twitter doesn't show Instagram previews today. It's so easy to add Twitter card support to your site, it's almost surprising today for a link to not have a preview on Twitter. And yet, your Instagram Tweets still just show up as your description text and a link.

But you can fix that today, with a simple Zapier integration. Just click through the integration below, and you can link your Instagram account to Twitter, customize your Tweet's message, and turn it on. Then, the next time you post something to Instagram, don't tap the Twitter button—just wait a few minutes, and the picture, Instagram link, and description show up on your Twitter profile.

You'll save yourself one tap each time you post something on Instagram, and your Twitter followers will see your Instagram photo without having to click through your link—just like it should have worked already.

It's little things like this—being able to add your own "features" to apps you love and finding workarounds for "bugs" that'd otherwise likely never get fixed—that makes me love automation tools like Zapier so much.

If you're just getting started with the Mac and OS X—and especially if you want to use your new Mac with Adobe Creative Cloud and other creative apps—this new video course from Tuts+ might be just what you need. It started as one of the last projects I'd work on at Tuts+, along with the Spreadsheet video course that was published last year, and is now ready for you to watch.

It'll cover everything you need to pick a Mac and set it up with external hardware, along with tips about how to use a Mac for organizing files, launching apps, keeping things backed up, and more. Then, it'll dive into more creative topics like color calibration, Adobe Creative Cloud apps, alternative creative apps, and ways to configure each of them to work great for you.

It's a great crash course to get started being creative on your Mac.

The Email Marketing Book

email_cover

Just two month after launching our last book, this week my coworkers at the Zapier marketing team and I have launched another book about apps—this one, about email marketing apps. And it's huge.

With 12 chapters covering everything from email newsletter apps, transactional email services, and tools to send drip messages to the tips and tricks you need to make your emails the best they can be, there's something for everyone. If you're looking for a new app to help out with your email marketing, there's dozens of great options covered here. Or, if you have an app you love and want better ways to integrate it with your workflow—and make sure your messages don't get marked as spam—there's tips for you, too.

And, best of all, it's free. You can read it online or download it PDF, MOBI, and ePub formats from Zapier, or pick up a copy for free from the Kindle and iBooks stores.

Enjoy, and we hope you find at least a few helpful things in the book!

Ever wondered why you should use Amazon SES, Mandrill or any of the other transactional email services to send emails from your app? This article will take you through the best reasons why you should use a transactional email service to send your messages, show you some of the best options available, and then give you some quick tips on getting your email service integrated into your workflow.

Happy emailing!

Using Kirby CMS? Here's a quick plugin to let you edit any page on your site in the beautiful new panel in Kirby 2 just by adding ?edit to the end any URL on your site. Simple and oh so handy.

Programs are designed to be functional, with—unless it's a game we're talking about—little room for random art, funny quotes, or simple creativity. Except, that is, for splash and about screens. Riccardo Mori, a self-declared Mac conservator, recently rediscovered original copies of some of the most popular Mac programs, including the first versions of Photoshop, and put together a selection of their About screens.

Funny to think that my roundups of CS6 splash screens will eventually look this old.

/via Daring Fireball

For more old screenshot fun, check out my older post on The Screenshots of Yesteryears which includes links to a number of sites that offer incredibly fun looks back where the tech we use today all started.

It's All About the Lenses

When you decide to jump in and buy a better camera, the easiest thing in the world is to obsess over the camera body you're buying and spend your entire budget on it. Bad idea.

The thing that makes DSLR or mirrorless cameras amazing is the multitude of lenses you can use with them. The lens that comes with your camera will likely be mediocre at best; it's the prime and zoom lenses that make your camera a system you're buying into. That's the best reason to choose a specific camera from Canon or Fuji or any other company: there's a whole collection of lenses specifically for those cameras, and it's the ability to use those lenses that should drive your camera purchase.

How much of a difference do lenses make? Go check this article from Josh Ginter, which does quite the good job showing the differences in pictures just from using better lenses.

Surprising, right? And yet, as Ben Brooks reminds in his reply piece, great lenses don't always have to cost a fortune. That's actually one of the main reasons I bought a DSLR instead of a mirrorless camera: there's tons of lenses for Canon DSLR cameras, with many affordable-yet-great options. And, with so many DSLRs out there, there's a wealth of quite good used lenses, like my 10-22mm wide lens that I bought used for less than a third of its standard retail price.

You have to buy a camera to start with (that is, if you're sure you really want to jump into interchangeable lens cameras), but lenses should actually be the first thing you're thinking about. That's where the great pictures come from.

Well, actually even that's not true. As Ben Brooks said, "The most important part of any camera is you." But you'll be looking through the lens, so make sure it's a good one.

Now just try to not get addicted to buying ever nicer lenses…

Looking for a great way to send email newsletters? Here's our just-published roundup of 25 of the best apps to send email newsletters. There's everything from apps with great mobile apps to apps that'll let you send video over email, schedule events, and create surveys to gather contacts.

And, as you'd expect from the Zapier blog, there's a over a dozen ways to automate your email list, too.