I feel that given the time Marcos has spent on this programme, I at least should make a contribution to helping others implement a php-residence installation.
I have never worked in a Dynamic Web environment before – although I have created and maintain my own web-site. This was initially in Frontpage and then Dreamweaver MX and now CS3.
I wanted to add the ability for prospective clients to check room availability and even make bookings for my Guesthouse / Bar. I knew from my personal experience that I always preferred to book on line rather than ask an agency or simply send an e-mail into the 'blue'. So I believe that this will increase my bookings – a powerful motivator.
The installation is now live – but has, I think work to do yet. You can see it: www.annajet.co.uk follow the “Check Availability” link.
It's only now that I appreciate just how good this system is – but I just wish someone had explained it better before I started!
It is an integrated package that creates the databases, input and output pages. You do not need any other coding or interaction other than setting up the templates (in the configure menu).
The system is:
Reading the message gives the administrator the opportunity to review the booking and simply press a button to update the databases
That's it as far as I use it – but browsing around – there's lots more, including calculating deposits, updating payments clients have made, allocating rooms to outside booking agencies etc. But I have no idea how they work!
I was busily reading a Dreamweaver CS3 “Missing Manual” to teach myself about dynamic pages – and frankly, this was a waste of time – and led me down a false path. Try as I may, I cannot work with a Dreamweaver “testing site” on my own PC and the installation on the server. I have the same database names, same user and password (but have multiple users on my local MySQL installation). I simply can't transfer data from the testing installation to the main web server. This caused a major problem in that I had been merrily using the local 'testing' installation to maintain my databases by manually entering e-mailed bookings from clients (in the past I simply kept these on an Excel spreadsheet). When it finally came time to upload the data to the web server – I couldn't do it! I used the system to create a back-up file – but when I transferred that to my web server's “dati” folder – it wouldn't work! I tried many alternatives – but failed – in fact I lost all my data in the process. I was getting tangled up in permissions, user names etc. When I tried to use phpMyAdmin I got tangled up in character formatting problems – probably because the phpMyAdmin 0n the server was older than that supplied with Easy PHP.
So, in the end, I had to start again – delete and then re-install on my web server, re-create the tables, prices etc and then go back to source e-mails and re-enter my existing bookings.
Many hours wasted and some hair loss!
Learning point: play on a testing server, if you are like me the php will be so advanced that you will rapidly decide to leave well alone – but test the options (Yes, I know Marcos tells you to do this!) But do all the serious stuff directly on the web server.
My plan had been to use php-residence as a back-office and create my own input and output. Again, I have found this to be very difficult (because of permissions/users/passwords). Instead I have taken the simple way out and used Marcos' forms – customising them using the system he provides – you can simply test loads of options like this – it remembers where you were last – so you can just change one variable at a time. However, I've always used Dreamweaver to do my coding – so I'm really bad at it! So, I download a copy of the template into Dreamweaver, use Dreamweaver to change background, fonts etc – and some messages of my own. Then I copy and paste the code into the code boxes on the template creator and then let it remake the template. Seems to work OK.
My next Steps
1.I ask for a deposit only for bookings during my Peak period. I need to find a way to automate this.
2.I offer an Airport Taxi Pick-up service – I'd like to add this as a field on the booking form.
3.I need to learn how the payment system works – at the moment it depends upon me making a comment on the booking. Not really satisfactory.
4.Eventually, I'd like to hand the system over to my cashiers so that everyone who checks-in is recorded (we should be reporting this to Immigration). However, we are in Thailand – my ADSL line will be out for multiple minutes 3-6 times a week. The Cashiers need to be able to enter the data locally (presumably using a local server on the PC) and then update the web server. There looks to be an option that talks about this – but no instruction – and I'm scared of the whole permissions 'jungle
I hope this will prove helpful to others. Maybe my errors were unique – I hope so, it's been frustrating! I hope that others will comment – that's why I've posted this on the Wiki. Maybe someone will help me with my “next steps”? Peter Phillips. (If you want to contact me directly – please send a message via my web site or the php-residence forum – I am 'PeterP'.