ASForm Installation Notes


ASForm is designed to be easy to install and operate. This isn't to suggest that it's going to install itself for you, make you breakfast and nominate you for a Nobel Prize. But it's pretty easy. If you've never installed a CGI application before, you should do your homework first -- and don't even think of contacting Art Sackett Professional Web Design unless you're ready to become a paying client. Sorry, I/we just don't have the time to hand-hold everyone on the internet. It would be a great gig, but it just doesn't pay the bills. We all gotta make a living, and the web is how I feed my family.

Here's the short list of things you really need to know before you get started:

If you aren't really experienced in installing CGI apps, you would do well to visit and look it over before you get started. Could be you'll come up with a question that's already answered there, and knowing that it is, you can save yourself a lot of time and frustration.

Finally, when you are ready to get started, you should have read all of the documentation that comes with ASForm. Nothing about installing and configuring ASForm is difficult, but with such a flexible application there are many perfectly acceptable ways to make it do something you didn't intend.


If you haven't done so, configure the one or two lines of asform.cgi as instructed in Configuring ASForm. Make sure you've done it right. Create your configuration file(s). Then upload asform.cgi,, and any (at least one, the default) configuration file(s) into their proper places using your FTP client and an ASCII mode transfer. Once it's all there, make asform.cgi readable and executable by all, and writable by no one. Set asfmdbug so that it is readable by all, but writable by none -- the execute bits don't even matter. You probably will want to set debug: on in your default configuration file at this point, so upload it with that setting. You can (must) change it later, when you know it works. Don't leave the thing in debug mode any longer than you have to -- it might give some evil cracker all the information needed to lay the HTTP server to waste.

If you've wisely chosen a directory for ASForm to use as a cache for undeliverable mail, create it and make sure that ASForm can write files in it. If your server uses a CGI wrapper (such as cgiwrap) or something akin to Apache's suEXEC, ASForm will run as though you are running it, so the directory does not need to be writable by anyone but you. A wisely configured server will be put together this way -- if you're not sure, the only wise move is to ask. Try running ASForm in debug mode, with the permissions on the directory set to 755 -- if it tells you that it can write the undeliverables file, you're done with this part. Cruise on over to Running ASForm Debug.

If debug says that it can't write the undeliverables file, first check that the directory you named in the configuration file really exists with the name and path exactly as you have it in your configuration file, and in the same case (as in uppercase/lowercase). If this is so, make sure that you have, in fact, got read, write, and execute permissions for yourself to this directory and all of those above it all the way to your user directory (the one with your user name on it). Try it again if you changed anything. If it still can't write files in that directory, and you're certain that everything else is correct (you did read the grey paper, didn't you?), it's probably time to see what your ISP has to say about things. Check their FAQ's about running CGI applications (or "scripts") for hints. Call them, or email them, if you have to, in order to get an answer to the question "How do I get my CGI apps capable of writing files without making the directories world writable?" If they tell you something like "Do a chmod 777 on the directory", well, they're not so very bright, and it's the only option left to you. If I were you, I'd get a new ISP. 777 is dangerous, as my grey paper explains. If your ISP says to chmod 777, well, that's between you and them -- it'll get ASForm working, but it's stoopud in a big way.

At the point that you actually get ASForm running in debug mode, it should tell you about anything that's not quite kosher and suggest to you how to fix it. Cool, huh? If you can't get debug mode working, make sure that you uploaded the whole shebang in ASCII mode, that (yes, .pl, not .cgi -- trust me!) is there and readable, and that you've followed the advice in the grey paper. does not need to include the path to the perl interpreter in it -- it is run "within" asform.cgi.

After resolving any problems that kept ASForm from running in debug mode, get on over to Running ASForm Debug.

Configuration Installation
Error Messages
Message Templates
Writing Forms for
Use With ASForm
ASForm Debug


© 1999 - Art Sackett