More fun with WordPress (Participants Database)

As I wrote back in December, I’ve been working on setting a WordPress instance for the Emerald Isle Parrothead Club. One of the things we wanted to do was to move the membership roster of nearly 400 club members from an Access database (that obviously only one person could use at a time) to a system that was web-enabled so that we could have distributed maintenance. Also, if we could enable web-based membership applications, produce a membership list and other such things, all the better. I decided to see what I could find.  I discovered several software packages (some open source) that worked for clubs, but most of these seemed to be focused on sports clubs with court reservations, etc. Seems that “club” was not a good keyword. Then, I said let’s just see what sorts of WordPress plugins might be available.  I quickly stumbled onto Participants Database, which we’ve now implemented on our test site.  This is a most excellent plugin! The description is:

Build and maintain a fully customizable database of participants, members or anything with signup forms, admin backend, custom lists, and CSV support.

As you can see, that pretty well covered my use case 🙂 So, we’ve set it up, we have our database schema defined, and have demoed to the Club administrative folks, who’ve enthusiastically endorsed it. My next task is to import existing membership info, make a few more configuration tweaks, get all to give the “thumbs up” and then implement on our production site.

The only thing that didn’t work quite like I wanted is that it’s set up to allow only users with an “administrator” role to export data extracts to a CSV file, though it allows (by default) an “editor” to update data.  I wrote the author on the support forum, and he said the next version would allow what I wanted (the editor to be able to export a CSV). However, I’d already figured out how to patch the plugin to do what I wanted.  Patched one line of code in each of two files, and it works.  I’ll regress those changes when the update comes out…

The bottom line is that if you have a club or organization that has a WordPress website and you want to set up member/participant info, you should check out this plugin.  It’s very flexible about letting you create whatever fields you need to track things, display the things you need, manage administratively, and expose the info you want to the public.  It even has the ability to allow participants to maintain their own info through a “token” rather than a password, to make administration easier…

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