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.