Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Post VI: A step back…

It’s occurred to me that it might help folks to see some examples of custom parts that we have done to better understand the advantages of developing custom solutions for NetCommunity. I’ll include a screen shot of a few of them and a brief overview of the reason we chose to go the route of a custom solution instead of using an out of the box part.

Military Salutation
This was one of the first custom parts we did. We are a Military Service Academy and as you can imagine using the proper title when addressing an officer is pretty (very) important. The titles themselves are also very conditional. A specific rank like O-3 might not have the same title in one branch as it does in another and your military status also plays a part in how your title and salutations are displayed. On top of all of that there are specific rules about how the tiles are abbreviated. While NetCommunity facilitates the option to add custom titles in our case that would produce a title1 & title2 dropdown list on the profile a mile long after we added all of the possible combinations to the list.

We just rolled out v2 of this custom part last week. This custom part was designed for a few different reasons but the primary one was because BBNC and RE treat event registrations as Gifts and our organization doesn’t want that. As a result of going the route of a custom part we were able to do many other things that the out-of-the-box events part doesn’t support. All of the data flows right back into RE and registrations emails are sent to the registrant and to a few internal folks.

This is a good example of what you can do once you have a few custom parts under your belt. We probably could have used the Shopping cart module that Blackbaud has separate form BBNC but that costs extra and this didn’t take long to make. All the data of the purchase flows back to the Notes tab on the user’s RE record. All the credit card transactions happen through IATS and the orders are passed to external fulfillment companies. It’s also the first custom part we wrote that uses AJAX. That’s it for this post.

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thrasher141 said...

On the events part you said that all the data "flows right back into RE". Could you explain this a little more? Do the registrations show up in the NetCommunity plugin in RE? Do they have to go through an approval or do they just get inserted straight to RE?

Also, may I ask why your org doesn't want registrations treated as gifts? Is this because you aren't charging $ for events or for another reason? I think I remember hearing that BBNC doesn't let you do free events, but I'm not sure if I'm remembering correctly.

Garrett said...

We did have the option to feed the event into the plugin but we typical subscribe to a slightly different model than most do when it comes to data going into RE. We do use the plugin for any updates to constit data but with everything else I just do heavy validation on the front end to ensure that the data hitting RE is solid. It's been a pretty good system thus far.

As far as gifts/events go, I believe that requirement came from our Treasury department. They are always very adament about treating an event reg fee as a gift. Our system does also support free events.

dade said...

I am trying to create a custom registration part also, so any information or code you caold share would be highly appreciated.