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WordPress database versatility

Posted on 2016-07-19
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New Webpage designer.  Is Participants Database the best/only db plugin for WordPress?  I'm encountering trouble with such things as varying the width of fields, validating user inputs and displaying all fields on one screen.  I'm used to MS Access versatility.  Am I looking for things that don't exist?
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Question by:Member_2_7968517
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by:Jason C. Levine
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Not sure what it is you are looking to do.
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by:Member_2_7968517
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Need simple answers/recommendations/reasons at this time regarding collecting membership data on a website. Would be nice to evaluate answers on the fly, so answers are valid when completed.
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by:Member_2_7968517
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Currently my website new membership application input is viewable with "Participants database", but I don't see where I can validate the newly engtered field data such as zip code, for which I need to confirm that it is a valid 5 digit number, and also confirm that it is an existing postal zip code by comparing it to a list of U.S. zip codes.  Can WordPress do this?  Do I need to find a more versatile Website creation tool?
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Jason C. Levine earned 500 total points
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Can WordPress do this?

Yes, but when you use plugins you are (for the most part) limited to the capabilities of the plugin.  You CAN do what you want with plugins but not quite the way you are doing it now.

I'm used to MS Access versatility.

WordPress database design is not quite like MS Access.  For users, there are two tables:  

wp_users = holds username, hashed password, email address, couple of other columns.

wp_usermeta = holds everything else but not as separate columns.  Instead the user_id, the meta name and the meta value are each on a row and each user has tons of rows to correspond with whatever custom data you want for them.  Since these are just text columns in MySQL, they don't have any native validation on them like Access does.  You have to add all validation as client or server side scripting.

 I'm encountering trouble with such things as varying the width of fields, validating user inputs and displaying all fields on one screen.

So this gets a little complicated in WordPress. You can use custom meta fields to store as much data about a user as you like, but the default WordPress user profile screen is not really the best target for a super-complex user profile system.  As you have discovered, when you go into the plugin ecosystem, you will find stuff that gets you part of the way there but not all of the way there.

For your particular needs (especially validation), I would actually not look at profile plugins so much as a couple of the better form builders.  Specifically I'm thinking about Gravity Forms, Formidable Pro, and Ninja Forms.  All three of them can be configured to read and write user meta data into a form with advanced validation capabilities.  Of the three, I would probably look at Formidable Pro first as it is the easiest one to create a form tied to a specific login and allow edits.
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by:Member_2_7968517
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Thanks very much for that foundation.  No doubt be seeing you again.
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by:Member_2_7968517
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More related questions to come, undoubtedly.  Thanks again, Jason.
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No worries. Ask away
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