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New user questions (long post)


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Hi everyone. I am new to filemaker and these forums. I was going to ask a pretty basic question, but after looking around for the answers a bit, I realized that I might benefit by asking some general questions.

Here's the situation: I work for a company as the IT coordinator. I do hardware and networking, not database work, but the record-keeping this guy is currently using is staggeringly inefficient. I remembered using FileMaker at another job a long time ago and thought I would take a crack at streamlining the processes in my spare time. The point is, I'm in no rush to set up my database. I downloaded the demo and started tinkering.

Well, I have the basic form that we need (sort of) to keep track of things and people. Now I am working on getting FileMaker to display this information in different ways, depending on what we need. Before I put a whole lot of time and energy into this and end up with something that's as inefficient as what I have now (wordperfect merge docs), may I ask for some general pointers about design from you all?

We provide continuing education seminars for professionals. People register for our courses, send us money and then show up. Pretty simple. There are about 5 different courses offered in 20 or so locations around the country. Most courses are only offered by themselves, but there are two offered in some cities.

Here are the things I need to be able to do:

1. Provide a daily count of the number of registrations for each city and a running total number of registrations for the year

2. After each registration is received, a confirmation postcard is sent to the person confirming their schedule and stating whether or not they have paid

3. If a person pays with a credit card, we have to send a receipt, usually by fax.

4. If a person cancels, we have to send a refund letter with the check and remove them from the list of registrees, but we need to keep track of the people who cancel; we can't just delete the entry

5. If someone asks, we have to send an information brochure to them and note the day requested and day sent

6. When the seminar comes around, we have to have a roster that shows the list of all the attendees and whether or not they have paid

What I had set up in the basic form aside from contact info is to select the seminar type and location from a set of check boxes, where all possible options were defined in a value list. However I was having trouble creating a layout that would count them appropriately, so I went back and set up individual values sets for each.

I need to set this up as a conditional, I think. We are offering two seminars in Dallas next month, for example, so a grand total of two seminar types should be selectable. In any other city that a person can choose right now, only one seminar type should be selectable. I have no idea how to do this. Perhaps the city could be selected first and then the available seminars show up after that? Could I do it this way?

I guess there are a lot of different ways to set up the count. I don't really see why I can't set it up to automatically take you to a form letter with fields taken from a record to print a postcard or receipt. Again, I would guess that there are a lot of ways to do this, some better than others.

It would be nice if the prices automatically showed up. 1 class costs x, 2 costs 2x-40, etc.

As you can tell, this is not a huge project, but I'd like to get something together to show the boss at some point because a huge amount of time is being wasted moving stuff around and reformatting by hand. Plus, I want to get this set up to go on a web page so that people can register online, so it needs to be as foolproof as possible. Can I do that with FileMaker so that all the records end up in one place?

I am not looking for anyone to set this up for me; I want to learn the program, and this is a good excuse. However, if some of you wouldn't mind pointing me in the right direction and maybe letting me know some mistakes to avoid before I get too far along, I would greatly appreciate it. General comments about whether to handle everything in one database or not would be great as well as specifics like "DON'T USE RADIO BUTTONS FOR THAT!"

Well, thanks for reading this. I look forward to hearing from you.

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Well hmmm.... I'll outline the basic tables you'll need from what i got from your description...

1) MainCourses (The broad term i.e. FileMaker Development 101, FileMaker Server 201 etc.)

2) Courses (The Course locations, info about each venue etc)

3) Registrations

4) Payments

or... if the same people visit many courses often..

1) MainCourses (The broad term)

2) Courses (The Course locations, info about each venue etc)

3) People

4) Registrations (As a join table between courses and people)

5) Payments

In a setup like this, you can produce all reports and statistics about whatever registrations have occured in whatever range, cancel statistics, most active venues, -- possibilities are endless. And of course track all your payments.

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Ahh... Thank you both. I see now that I was trying to include too much information in one table, only outsourcing as I needed. Your design scales much more easily, which, hopefully, will be necessary as we add on-line registrations and content.

More questions are guaranteed to follow when I have some time to work with this. I'll be more specific from here on out.

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