Monday, July 18, 2011 5:10 PM
You’ve put your database on the web, yeah! It is searchable! You have a brief and a full display for the records. But you want more! Let’s say you want to get with the new social scene: you want to give your users the ability to add comments to your database records. Perhaps you might also want them to provide you with other feedback, such as identifying people in photos or letting you know if your records have any typos or other errors.
Here is a very quick database record commenting system, using email. It looks like this in a record on the web:
Comment on this record: email@example.com
Check it out on a real site: http://archives.newwestcity.ca/permalink/19414/
I’ll illustrate using Inmagic DB/Text, but you could probably do this on other database systems too.
- If you want the comments that users submit to show on the website, then you will have to add a Comment field to your database structure and add that field to the web-database form. If you just want to receive feedback, there is no need to add this field to your database structure or forms.
- You will need a RecordID field or some other field that is unique to each of your database records.
- Open the web-form where you want the comment request to be located, e.g. WebFull
- Add the RecordID field, in a form separate box, in the location where you want the email link.
- Add this beginning text to the field:
<p>Comment on this record:<a href="mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org?subject=Comment%20for%20Record%20Id%20
Note that you will have to add %20 between each word in the subject part of the line to make the link work properly.
- Add this ending text to the field:
"> email@example.com </a></p>
- Treat the box as Raw HTML.
- Save the form and test.
When a user clicks on the email link in the record, their email program will open with your email address in the email TO line and “Comment for Record ID ###” in the Subject line. They can then add whatever comment they want to the email text area and send it to you.
Once you receive the email you can vet it and add it to the record’s Comment field, if you have added one to your data structure. The Comment will also show on the web if you have added the Comment field to the web form. Of course if you are just using this feature for feedback, you can correct the error in the record, if that was what was suggested by the user.
You should not receive too many spam messages with this technique since the spam bot would have to search the database first before clicking on the email link. To make it even more obscure, I suggest you only add this link to the full record display.
If you need help setting this up, please contact one of us.
Wednesday, July 06, 2011 4:49 PM
In May and June 2011, we held Inmagic Training and Ideas Days in Vancouver, Edmonton, Calgary, Ottawa and Toronto. We talked to over 90 attendees over the course of those sessions, and showed them tips and tricks for Inmagic DB/TextWorks and WebPublisher Pro and demonstrated some new and exciting discovery interfaces.
After each session we followed up with a survey and were pleased to receive very high satisfaction levels for all courses, including 95% satisfied or very satisfied for the discovery interfaces sessions. Comments from attendees of these sessions were:
“It's good to learn about discovery interfaces. I think they will become a trend and play an important role in the future.”
“Introduction to a new concept - I had not really been aware of this in the library context and found it very interesting”
“I found it very useful that you could drill down to specifics, rather than know exactly what you are looking for from the start.”
We felt that the DB/TextWorks sessions were the core of the whole program and probably contained the most pertinent information for all so we encouraged as many people as possible to attend. Upon completion, attendees received a copy of our Andornot Starter Kit database for the desktop, containing many customized forms and scripts. Overall we had an 89% satisfied or very satisfied level for these sessions. And we were pleased to see that 81% of attendees would recommend the DB/TextWorks session to colleagues or contacts. Several people mentioned that one of the most useful pieces of information that they went away with was knowledge of “Keyboard Shortcuts”. Others liked the “Dead URL link checker” and commented “I didn't know it existed!”
The WebPublisher PRO sessions was perhaps the most difficult for us to teach as we tried to show “out-of-the-box” examples. For clients who know Andornot; this is not the way we normally operate. We have long since moved beyond that level with our Andornot Starter Kit for the web, including custom cart, templating system, etc. During the session we demonstrated features that all users can apply to their systems, for example canned searches (using our search cannery), permalinks, and a simple commenting system. We ended the session with a show and tell of many of our designed sites. Attendees gave us an 88% satisfied or very satisfied rating and took away an RSS feed utility and a Query Logger database upon completion. One attendee commented that “it was useful to be shown how much Inmagic [WebPublisher] can be customized” and others were very keen on the Permalinks set-up.
Thank you to those who attended the sessions and filled out the survey. If any Inmagic users are interested in having us come to their community this fall or spring of next year, let us know. If we have enough interest we will schedule sessions. We also offer personal or web-based training; contact us firstname.lastname@example.org for further information.