When to Drupal, for forms???

When Drupal experts are so scarce, choosing how to implement a new multi-step third party form for a Drupal site can be tricky. Our in house talent is stretched with current projects, and our trusted outside contractors are not up to speed on Drupal. So we were faced with either creating the new forms with a pure PHP implementation that lives along side the Drupal site (with a shorter timeline), or finding and vetting a new Drupal contractor that know the form API inside and out, or rearranging other priority projects and complete the form integration in house.

These are the choices, what have other site managers done? This is our story.

The forms we need to create are complex multi-page, conditional validation forms, with an XML post/response at the end. Potentially 100+ fields of input, over 6 pages (with some pages completely removed if not needed). We also want to be able to re-theme the forms quickly and reuse them on another site. Sounds like perfect use of the FAPI, doesn't it? Except for the many other competing interests it would have been.

Our in-house talent is swamped with current projects, and we want this forms project done in the next few weeks. Unfortunately, we don't have working relations with experiences Drupal programmers and due to our timelines, we can't invest in finding new talent right now. Also the project is too advanced to function as an audition for a contractor.

Thus we must use our experienced, trusted PHP contractors to code a forms applications strictly in PHP. We don't want to pay them to learn the FAPI, and then implement the forms solution, since that will take too long for them to come up to speed, and a bit more expensive to pay for their eduction in a sense.

I am sure our contractors will deliver a flexible web application that will fit our needs, but as the resident Drupal advocate in our company I am thinking that we are short changing ourselves in the long term by not leveraging the tools that Drupal has to offer us.

In the Time/Money/Quality triangle of trade off, this time we have gone with traded quality for less time. But such are the trade-offs of the business world. A fellow Drupal dev and I are already figuring out how long it would take to refactor the PHP in the FAPI (and when it will be asked of us). I will give an update it we do it the Drupal way later.

We're experiencing a similar

We're experiencing a similar dilemma ... I think our approach may be to create a CCK field that holds a path to an include ... that way every script will be executed in the context of a node and we get access to all drupal functions ... we used a similar technique w/ a custom built CMS, but now we're migrating lots of sites to drupal ... we're hoping this will provide an interesting intermediary between mastery of drupal, exposure to drupal, and being generally productive. I'd be interested in any thoughts ...