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TAMU Webmaster's Blog

Information and insight from the A&M Webmasters

Visitor Center Registration Application

August 11th, 2014 by Erick Beck

After a long, and often painful, process we are finally ready to launch Version 2 of the visitor center registration application. This was a project that was requested on my first day in Marcomm, and I am happy to have it now online.

Seven years ago the visitor center took registrations for campus tours over the phone and through email, and then manually recorded them in a Filemaker Pro database. This, of course, was an enormously cumbersome process which we were asked to streamline. Over the course of the last seven years we did this through a series of incremental upgrades.

The first iteration was to gather the information that was being fed into the Filemaker database and create an HTML file to allow people to register online. Filemaker was a desktop application similar to Access so we couldn’t write directly to the database. The form instead appended entries to a daily XML file that could be imported into Filemaker.

This system was a nice upgrade, but everyone recognized that it was not a complete solution. We therefore took on the task of creating an application that could feed a MySQL database in real time. At the same time the scope of the project widened as we were asked to not only include registrations for campus tours but also for meetings with academic advisors, freshman orientation meetings, and tours of residence halls. This project led to our previous site. It was well intentioned and did its job, but the development process was flawed. Changes were made throughout development that forced us to create a patchwork solution that left some gaps in usability.

The current site came about as a way of finally creating a unified system that was planned from the beginning to be modular and extensible enough to incorporate change requests during development. It also added options for both individual visits and group visits, which had been lacking in previous generations.

While this site currently exists as a stand-alone entity, so do have plans to make it more tightly bound — at least stylistically — to the larger visitors website and the common university branding.

Monday, August 11th, 2014 Ongoing Projects
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