11 Replies Latest reply on Jul 12, 2016 9:33 PM by stevepony

    Match (random) fields of website with FM database using PHP API

    stevepony

      Dear all,

       

      We have been using Filemaker for 2.5 years now, but one big problem is field matching when using the PHP API. I'm trying to explain our current situation and would really appreciate some professional input on this.

       

      We are an event agency who organizes approx. 30 conferences per year, each conference in average 300 participants. For some of those conferences we are planning to use 1 database (for all) to handle onsite registration. Assuming 50% of our clients we do that, it would mean 15 projects x 300 participants = 4.500 records per year to handle with 1 Filemaker database.

       

      All onsite tools (airport arrival lists, registration scanning, door scanning for head counts etc.) are already setup and working quite ok. The problem ist, we are currently developing an online dashboard which will allow us to setup online registration forms, send confirmation emails etc. and we want to link this with our Filemaker database using PHP API and Filemaker Server.

       

      Goal is:

      Pre-event use the online dashboard to gather registrations (starting 6 weeks before the conference)

      During event use Filemaker (several clients as iPads, computers etc.) AND online dashboard (i.e. online evaluation, update flight details last minute etc.)

       

      Problem is:

      Each conference the online registration form looks a bit different:

      - Sometimes we gather shirt sizes, sometimes we don't.

      - Sometimes we offer them tour options, sometimes we don't.

      - Other fields like name, flight details are repeating and always the same.

       

      -> Now - how do we match those fields? We would actually like to be able to setup the forms using a WYSIWYG editor by basically just choosing.

      NEW FIELD -> TYPE OF FIELD -> LABEL -> DONE.

       

      But if we do it "random" like this, it's impossible to match it with Filemaker. We would need to match every field every time with the according field in Filemaker which would take pretty long and would be also pretty confusing for our administration staff.

       

      Solution #1 I could think of:

      When adding fields online in the dashboard, we are not adding type of fields, but the actual fields. That means:

      We're adding the fields...

      Title

      First Name

      Last Name

      Email

      Company

      ...whatever

       

      This we can do for all repeating fields. Problem about this solution is, that we will have a very long list of fields to choose from AND whatever custom field we need for a new project, we have to provide a set of custom fields to be used for that.

       

      For example: One customer wants to know for some weird reason the hair color of participants. We don't have a field "Hair color" in FM. So we are using the prepared field "Custom_1" for this purpose and rename the label to "Hair Color".

       

      All in all we are not very happy with this solution because of the bulky set of fields to choose from.

       

      Solution #2 I could think of:

      When creating the forms with the dashboard, we are just matching them randomly with a prepared set of let's say 100 fields in Filemaker which are named F1, F2, F3, F4, etc. So during online registration all the data goes into some of the 100 fields in Filemaker which we prepared, we don't really know yet in which one, but we make sure every single bit of information is saved.

       

      Then when we actually start setting up the onsite registration tools, we match the fields by saying...

      - "First_Name" data is in the field "F4"

      - "Email" data is in the field "F10"

      - selected "Tour" is in the field "F31"

      ...and so on.

       

      I imagine if we save one test record using the registration labels as field values it should only take 5 mins to match it using appropriate scripts because we only have to spot field values vs. field names.

       

      Question though is how to technically do that. We will use 1 Database for ALL projects and the matching will be different every time.

      -> Change all "real" fields in Filemaker to a calculated field and add a new case "Case (xxx; xxx; yyy; yyy; database::project = "Toshiba"; database::F4 ) to each one of it? But I guess it would terribly slow down our database after a while if we have 30 projects and each field used in the layouts + scripts is a calculated field?

       

      >> What do you think about my 2 solutions?

      >> Any other idea how to meet our problem and solve it?

      >> Or is my approach totally wrong and there's a simpler/different way doing it?

       

      Thank you so much and I hope the problem we have is clear? If not please ask me what part needs more explanation.

       

      Steve

        • 1. Re: Match (random) fields of website with FM database using PHP API
          stevepony

          Hmm, no answer. What does that mean? Are we making a mistake using Filemaker or contacting this community?

          • 2. Re: Match (random) fields of website with FM database using PHP API
            greatgrey

            mmmm Part of it could be handled by having a master record that has a flag for each field that show if it used or unused and hide field if unused.

            1 of 1 people found this helpful
            • 3. Re: Match (random) fields of website with FM database using PHP API
              stevepony

              Dear greatgrey,

               

              Thanks for your reply. So if I understand you correctly is you thinking about having one field which value is the field names of all fields on the layout? Is that what you mean by "flag" or am I misunderstanding you?

               

              This MIGHT be first step to a solution indeed.

              • 4. Re: Match (random) fields of website with FM database using PHP API
                user19752

                Sorry for negative reply, but I felt you are trying to make FileMaker using FileMaker.

                • 6. Re: Match (random) fields of website with FM database using PHP API
                  Imager

                  Hi Steve

                   

                  We have solved our online registratrion with Webdirect. So you can prepare your layouts in Filemaker. If you need to show specific fields (like T-shirts), you can have a Flag in the event data. With this flag, you can show the field in the online form.

                   

                  You can check out our solution:

                  http://46.140.145.219/fmi/webd#LB_WOR

                   

                  Cons for webdirect:

                  You need to have enough connections.

                  Some browser incompatibilities.

                   

                  If you find a solution with PHP, just let me know. I might also be interested in this.

                   

                  Best regards,

                   

                  Paul Merki

                  Chairman

                  Direct +41 43 434 60 51

                  Mobile +41 79 357 28 16

                  Alternative email: p.merki@mac.com

                   

                  Light + Byte AG | Photo · Video · Imaging

                  Baslerstrasse 30 | 8048 Zurich

                  Open: monday through friday | 08:00 am to 5:30 pm

                  T. +41 43 311 20 30 | F. +41 43 311 20 35

                  www.lbag.ch | info@lbag.ch

                  1 of 1 people found this helpful
                  • 7. Re: Match (random) fields of website with FM database using PHP API
                    stevepony

                    Dear Paul,

                     

                    Thank you so much for the input. I tested it, but for us the main problem is that we have hired an external agency to program us a dashboard to setup the whole online registration part. - Emails, Registration, Evaluation Form, Data Monitoring etc. So the goal is to be able to setup multiple forms using the dashboard and simple enough so it can be done by an admin person...

                     

                    Therefore the webdirect solution is out for us... Also to be honest I'm not really happy with this from the very beginning. Browser incompatibility, slow speed, usability issues (i.e. TAB to select next field) etc. made me never really use it for anything.

                     

                    For your projects you have to setup and handle several forms per year?

                     

                    Example of something I'm working on right now: http://inday.idext.co.th/

                    >> This goes DIRECTLY into Filemaker using PHP. I receive any registration within 1 second.

                     

                    But all manually coded, which takes lots of time. Can't do this anymore, we're getting more and more events which need online registration.

                    • 8. Re: Match (random) fields of website with FM database using PHP API
                      greatgrey

                      Not quite what I thinking but may work just as well.

                      • 9. Re: Match (random) fields of website with FM database using PHP API
                        wimdecorte

                        TeerapatKhiangthong wrote:

                         

                        Hmm, no answer. What does that mean? Are we making a mistake using Filemaker or contacting this community?

                         

                        It means that this is a forum of volunteers, so perhaps nobody had the time to absorb and reply.  Have patience...

                        • 10. Re: Match (random) fields of website with FM database using PHP API
                          wimdecorte

                          TeerapatKhiangthong wrote:

                           

                           

                           

                          Solution #2 I could think of:

                          When creating the forms with the dashboard, we are just matching them randomly with a prepared set of let's say 100 fields in Filemaker which are named F1, F2, F3, F4, etc. So during online registration all the data goes into some of the 100 fields in Filemaker which we prepared, we don't really know yet in which one, but we make sure every single bit of information is saved.

                           

                           

                          No, don't do this.  Just use real fields, even if you don't use them for all forms.  Don't try to make this dynamic, it is going to be a nightmare to maintain.

                           

                          TeerapatKhiangthong wrote:

                           

                          Solution #1 I could think of:

                          When adding fields online in the dashboard, we are not adding type of fields, but the actual fields. That means:

                          We're adding the fields...

                          Title

                          First Name

                          Last Name

                          Email

                          Company

                          ...whatever

                           

                          This we can do for all repeating fields. Problem about this solution is, that we will have a very long list of fields to choose from AND whatever custom field we need for a new project, we have to provide a set of custom fields to be used for that.

                           

                          For example: One customer wants to know for some weird reason the hair color of participants. We don't have a field "Hair color" in FM. So we are using the prepared field "Custom_1" for this purpose and rename the label to "Hair Color".

                           

                          All in all we are not very happy with this solution because of the bulky set of fields to choose from.

                           

                           

                          Correct: use actual fields.  The fact that you have a long list of fields to choose from is irrelevant.  Trying to keep the list of fields short is bad thing to pursue and is going to make your solution exponentially more complex.

                           

                          Don't use custom fields with different labels for each purpose.  It will mean that you can't do proper reporting across multiple events if you ever need to.

                           

                          What if "hair color" is custom_1 for one event but custom_3 for another and the client asks you to run a report for all the blondes that attended any of his events?

                          1 of 1 people found this helpful
                          • 11. Re: Match (random) fields of website with FM database using PHP API
                            stevepony

                            wimdecorte schrieb:

                             

                            It means that this is a forum of volunteers, so perhaps nobody had the time to absorb and reply. Have patience...

                            OK, I apologize. I have been reading this forum for almost 2 years, but just started recently posting here. I thought that I saw couple of times replies from Filemaker official support staff!? So obviously I remembered that wrong. Because of course I'm not intending to blame anyone NOT spending his free time here. The opposite is the case, really appreciate it and this forum has been a great help for long time.

                             

                            ----

                             

                            Concering your answer to our problem: Thanks so much for the input, so we will rather go with solution 1. Still having the problem how to make it easily manageable using the dashboard. A long list of 60 fields having to select from when setting up a new php form doesn't sound like a super nice solution to me...

                             

                            To let you guys virtualize what we are planning to do when setting up a form with the new dashboard, here's a Photoshop mockup. It will change, but that's the latest I got so far from the ui designer...

                             

                            Dashboard_4.jpg