Thursday, June 17, 2010

The June Grower's Report

Ahhhh yes, it is hot now! I love the heat though, I would much rather be sweating than freezing to death! As spring winds down it allows me more office time, wait, I know I said I love the heat and now I go off hiding in the office, hehe! I start my day off in the office and usually finish up outside, so I still get my heat! Recently I started working on a database project...maybe not recently....hmmmm wondering when this began? Maybe I started in April, it is all starting to come together now so I have come out of my database bubble. Last night this reminded me of a scene in the Sopranos where one of the guys is quoting The Godfather.

"Right when I think I'm out you pull me right back in."

HA! This is exactly what the database is, I add new things, only to find more new things that it can do! Oh it is so smart and hopefully it is making everybody's life easier. So why did I even start this whole thing? Another quote comes to mind.

"The belief in a thing makes it happen" Frank Lloyd Wright

I definitely had a belief, it just took me awhile to figure out how to make it happen. I had a vision of making our booking system much more user friendly. The old system was very simplistic in an Excel file. This worked for us in the past as we only had a few offerings as products. As our product line increased, this file started giving me nightmares! Ok, maybe not that bad. It was hard to update with new orders and hard to keep up to date as items shipped, not really hard I guess, more time consuming. Also the file was on one computer so it had to be emailed out to others if anyone needed updates.

In college I worked with Dr. Dan Lineberger who designed and maintained Aggie Horticulture. One of the programs he used was a database, Filemaker Pro. I used this for my thesis so I had experience with this program and I knew how powerful it could be. First I started with the invoice solution that came with the program. From here I just start making modification to suite our needs. I added in all of our products and customers first. Next I started learning about reports, these took me awhile to get right, but I finally got them to do what I wanted! Of course there is still plenty of room for improvement but we are getting somewhere now. It is light years ahead of what we had, plus there is so much more it can do in the future....hence the first quote! The interesting thing is how a booking solution has become so much more. Now I can run ship sheet for the week, pick tickets for the week (this was added after I noticed about 4 people were all summarizing the flats needed per week, oh no, the database can do that!) I also added a report that we can send to our inspector for orders that need inspection for the week so it does not need to be typed out each week. Just today I came up with a new report for our breeders, now we can run it and show how many of a particular plant was shipped and to whom it was shipped to.

The future: I have already figured out how to update the inventory from my iPhone. there are some glitches but it works! So I can update while in the greenhouse! This reminds me, I did find a company to host the database so now we can all access it anytime and the copy we work on keeps up to date. This is how I can update from the iPhone. So I have hopes of fixing the glitches and expanding on the iPhone working with the database as we all have iPhone in the office, well except Stephen, sorry Stephen, maybe we will get you one! I can update pages with the online version of the database, Filemaker Pro will write pages that can be viewed online, while not perfect, they do work. This is nice because I can make simple updates at home without needing another copy of Filemaker. I will mainly update product pages at home, to try and keep up with all of the new ones we have! This has lead me to the need for an iPad, oh yes, this is where quote #2 come into play again, hehehehe! But seriously, we can use this powerful system to add orders to our system while on the road with the iPad, also I will use it to make updates to the system while in the greenhouse, too cool! Currently I am starting to work on getting the information for our products in the database to display on our web site. This is the reason I have not updated the web site in awhile! I want to only update something once, not here, then there...wastes my time! So if I can keep our products up to date in the database and have them display on the web site....well that's just brilliant!! This is a work in progress, I hope to have it complete before the summer shows pending I don't hit any major road blocks.

Well I sure if you are reading this you might be tired of reading my ramblings of how I became a database nerd, hehe! So enjoy the video where you don't have to read about it, you can watch it too!

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