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Procedure for Automated Mailing List in Filemaker - Advice?

Our supervisor has asked for a routine where an agent sends an initial email to a large number of recipients, and in so doing, the email addresses are imported into a Filemaker DB. From there, an email must be sent to those recipients whenever some detail of our properties for sale (also stored in a Filemaker DB) changes.

*It should be noted that, due to server limitations, we cannot use a Listserv application.

I don't know of any way to automatically grab Outlook data into a Filemaker DB, so these are the two methods I am considering for the process:

1- The agents fills in a protected web form, the emails are thus put into a text file on the server (via PHP), which is downloaded to our office server on a regular basis, which is imported into Filemaker, where the emails reside for future mailings.

2- The agent accesses the DB directly through a Filemaker "PHP Assistant" form, which would cut out a lot of overhead, but would also require setting up the Filemaker Web Server. I'm not completely sure our firewall will allow that... I'm also not sure whether it will conflict with other server software on the same machine (such as MS Exchange). But I'm willing to give it a shot, as this seems like a more elegant solution.

Prerequisites: the process needs to be as automated as possible, and the agents must have remote web access.

May I have a consensus on which method I should use? If either...
Thank you.
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rvfowler2
Asked:
rvfowler2
1 Solution
 
lesouefCommented:
solution 1 will work. with a few delays, you can trigger the export of the web sites directly by issuing a URL which will trigger the address exportation php script to a file, which you can get via ftp for example. the web viewer would be an easier way, but since you cannot grab the html content on the fly (web viewer is pretty weak), no way.
solution 2 can also work. no conflict since it uses IIS as the web server to publish its php pages. But as exchange also uses it, installation may be a problem as I have never been able to setup fm+php if IIS installation was not the default one. (in fact, I had to re-install IIS every time to start from defaults). In your case, that would probably ruin the existing setup for exchange. So a good backup before trying. firewall: no change if you server is already visible from outside for exchange web mail for instance.
Also take into account that the php usage with filemaker is something special.
Even for php aware people, using it with fm needs some learning.
If you have many users, take into account the necessary bandwidth to have your users connected on your fm server rather than on your external server.
For all these reasons, I would vote for a classic php/mysql solution on an external web site, and get that to fm whenever required. If the mysql port can be opened at your provider (not common), you can make an odbc connection direcyly from fm to the website mysql db. and make a direct reading this way.
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