What are you using FM Spark for?

Support, Tips and Tricks for Proof Group's fmSpark "merge anything" utility for FileMaker Pro.
Posts: 5
Joined: Fri Sep 19, 2008 5:04 pm
PostPosted: Thu Apr 02, 2009 4:48 pm
I've been wondering what other developers and companies are using fmSpark for. I know there are the obvious categories: sending newsletters, generating cards and labels. But it would be good to hear specifics if others don't mind sharing.

We're a used book store, and we recently started offering our customers the opportunity to subscribe to lists of recently cataloged books in only those subjects they're interested in. Our website has a simple web form that asks for name and email address, along with a couple dozen check boxes for different subjects, like Fiction, Biography, Science, etc. The customer can also choose whether to receive the lists weekly or monthly.

Submitting the form sends the emails to a staff member, who creates a customer record in our database (if they don't exist already) and adds each subscription (each subject checked by the customer) to a related Subscriptions table. At the end of each week and month I gather a set of customers with active subscriptions and send that found set to fmSpark.

In fmSpark, I added the necessary table occurrences to the relationship graph, then created a series of email templates used solely for these book list subscriptions. The templates have in the main content region a calculation bracketed as a <<merge>> expression that makes use of the List() function to gather the appropriate lists for each customer in the set, based on the subscriptions she's signed up for. The chain of table occurrences the calc has to peer through is fairly long, and the field actually referenced in the Books table at the end of the chain is a concatenated calc called c_NewsletterLine. The result, upon preview, looks something like this:


This Week From the Buying Table
Here's what showed up this week on the buying table for the following categories:

Art
Crafts & Hobbies
History
Literary Criticism
Religion
Graphic Novels

ART:Art by Place • U214524 • Great Irish Artists • (Ireland); Kennedy, S. B. • Hard Cover • Very Good / Good • $10.00

ART:Art by Place • U215395 • British Romantic Artists • Piper, John • Hardcover • Good / Good • $7.00

ART:Cartooning • U215044 • Comic Artist's Photo Reference - People & Poses: Book/CD Set with 1000+ Color Images (Comic Artists Reference) • Scalera, Buddy • Paperback • Very Good • $12.00

ART:Criticism & History • U214987 • A Book of Colors • Kobayashi, Shigenobu • Paperback • Near Fine • $7.50

etc.


I don't even know if this is the best way to gather the book list data. The merging, on a fast computer, takes just a few minutes with several dozen recipients in the list, so it isn't too bad now, but I can see it taking quite awhile as the subscriptions continue to come in.

Anyway, that's one of the things we've been using fmSpark for. I hope to integrate it into our consignment system soon to help us print up contracts for local authors whose books we carry. It seems like I've only scratched the surface with this thing, and I'd be very interested to know what others have managed to make it do.

Larry
Orca Books
SeedCode Staff
SeedCode Staff
Posts: 2759
Joined: Thu Nov 20, 2003 11:01 am
PostPosted: Thu Apr 09, 2009 7:05 am
Very slick Larry: thanks for the post!
John Sindelar
SeedCode

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