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Getting website data (forms) into filemaker, Need help ASAP!


travisl
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I have been searching long and hard for the best solution at pulling data from the web and into Filemaker Pro 8.5. My problem is this:

I have a form that will be filled out by all of my sales representatives, and this form will need to come directly into Filemaker so there is no retyping required and the process is as automated as possible. This includes matching the fields on the web to the corrisponding fields in FM. The form will need to be on the web. I have looked at every option in the book: pop3it, mail.it, cafephp, ODBC's, php's, mysql's, and IWP. I am a novice/intermediate user I guess, but with little programming knowledge. I need to know what is the easiest way to get data from a web form, and into Filemaker Pro 8.5. Here are the drawbacks of what I have already researched:

-Pop3it - doesn't support autocheck for emails. Not now at least.

-cafephp - not quite sure whats going on here.

-IWP - My sales may access the db from various locations, so trying to secure the db form page by limiting certain ip's will not work, and the db would be exposed to outside world... right?

-mySQL- I thought this would work, not sure how though.

I have mySQL, and PostRegSql, as well as phpMyAdmin on my web hosting. I'm not sure how to set this up though. Any links are advice would help.

Bottom line, I've confused myself by reading fifty billion different ways of doing this, and its hard to know what people are referencing have the time when they refer to Filemaker (Is it the regular FM, or is it the Server version.)

Anyway, any help would help. I'm open to anything, and I am willing to look into other 3rd party or plug-ins, if they aren't too expensive. the server version is too expensive. I need the alternative... I think :

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I haven't played with IWP outside of our local LAN so I’m pretty ignorant on its security. Someone else should weigh in on that option, as it could be the best one.

Depending on how timely the updates from your sales staff need to be it would be fairly simple to build a php/mysql page on you external server for them to login to and enter data. You could then set up a FMP client box with myODBC (free download from dev.mysql.com with an easy Windows installer, I never could get it working on Mac OS 10.4) to run a regular update script (Why FMP won’t let you do this on the server is beyond me but that’s another topic). On Windows set up the connection as a server level Data Source. Then set up a Filemaker script to import records via ODBC.

A few quick (over simplified) notes on PHP/MySQL:

MySQL is just a database as in tables only as opposed to Filemaker, which is also contains a user interface development tool, scripting language, etc. PHP is a server side scripting language that is frequently used to build dynamic web pages that allow users interact with a MySQL database. (phpMyAdmin is simply a web application written in PHP to manage MySQL tables)

Assuming your sales rep’s form is not that long or complex learning then writing the HTML/PHP/MySQL code to produce it won’t be that difficult. The “For Dummies” series has a pretty good entry level book on PHP/MySQL web development (it’s how I got started several years ago). You’ll also need to learn how to code an HTML form, which is also simple and there are several free tools/ tutorials out on the web for that. Once again assuming a relatively straight forward form/ data structure for your sales reps, this is only a couple of hours work for an experienced PHP/MySQL web developer so depending on you budget/time crunch contracting that out might be another option.

I’ll dig up info on setting up MyODBC on a Windows box and post links here later (unless someone beats me to it).

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Installing MyODBC from Binary on Windows

http://dev.mysql.com/doc/refman/5.0/en/myodbc-installation-binary.html#myodbc-installation-binary-windows

Configuring MyODBC on Windows:

http://dev.mysql.com/doc/refman/5.0/en/myodbc-configuration-dsn-windows.html

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