I have been working on a new version of RETweet which will be released soon. In that version we are allowing users to create constituents from Twitter users. The amount of information that you get from Twitter about the Tweet and the person that tweeted is very limited. The real name of the Twitter user – and it is not always a real name – is given in one field so it could include the first and last name (this is the most common where it is not a Tweeting business). To make this more useful the application reaches out to a webservice to determine the gender of the person.
The webservice takes the first name and returns gender information and which countries the name appears in. The web service is biased towards European and Western first names but does claim to cover some countries in Asia too.
This could also easily be integrated as a VBA solution so that when you save and close a constituent record, if the gender is unknown the VBA code reaches out to the webservice and populates the code. Here is some sample code that shows you how this is done. This is done using .NET as it is considerably easier to achieve than in the native VBA environment. It would, however, be easy to make a call to a COM visible assembly from the native VBA client to call this method.
' Determines the gender of the person by looking up useing Thomas Bayer's webservice.
Private Sub SetGender(firstName As String, constit as CRecord)
Dim xdoc As XDocument
'Here we retrieve the XML document from the REST web service
xdoc = sendXML("http://www.thomas-bayer.com/restnames/name.groovy?name=" & firstName)
Dim result = xdoc.<restnames>
'if there is an error then the gender cannot be found
If result.Descendants("error").Count > 0 Then
'This is not an ideal check as a name can be both male and female
'but for simplicity we assume this is not the case
If resultresult.<nameinfo>.<male>.FirstOrDefault.Value.ToLower = "true" Then
constit.Fields(ERECORDSFields.RECORDS_fld_GENDER) = "male"
constit.Fields(ERECORDSFields.RECORDS_fld_GENDER) = "female"
'If there is an error due to the web service we catch it here and don't bother the end user.
Private Function sendXML(ByVal uri As String) As XDocument
Dim request As HttpWebRequest
Dim response As HttpWebResponse
Dim reader As XmlReader
request = HttpWebRequest.Create(uri)
response = request.GetResponse()
reader = XmlReader.Create(response.GetResponseStream())
Look out for our new version of RETweet. It will include this and a lot of other new features!
If you recognise the title of this post then I was inspired by a BlackbaudKnowHow article of a similar name. In that article the author describes the differences between the three terms and how they relate to Blackbaud Enterprise CRM. This is a good overview and works well for Blackbaud Enterprise CRM. However it breaks down when talking about The Raiser’s Edge 7.
I was prompted to write this after seeing a tweet highlighting Altru’s history function. The tweet pointed to the Blackbaud Know How article about how you can see who changed what and when on a record. For those of you unfamiliar with Altru, it is one of the more recent applications released on the Infinity platform.
I have been using Visual Studio 2010 for a short while now ever since the prospect of developing workflows for Enterprise CRM became a reality. One thing that I noticed when working with The Raiser’s Edge API however is that it is much faster to type out everything.
I received a question recently from Markus asking for help. He was new to developing code with the VBA module in The Raiser’s Edge and had a good idea but didn’t know how to make it work
In an earlier post I looked at the way in which it is possible to open up a Crystal Report from VB or VBA code in The Raiser’s Edge. That was with version 8.5 of Crystal Reports. I tried to do the same thing recently with a report created in Crystal Reports 11 and the code broke. I rewrote the code using a newer object and technique.
One of the methods for writing VBA code that fires when, say a constituent is saved, is to write a VBA DLL. I have covered this previously so I won’t go into details in this post. However what do you do if you need one VBA DLL to talk to another one? For example if I make a change to a record in one VBA DLL and have installed Zeidman Development’s Audit Trail application (excuse me for the gratuitous plug there) how do I tell the audit trail to make a note of this change? The VBA events are only fired when the Raiser’s Edge GUI opens up or saves a record and not when the code does so.
There was a question recently on Blackbus asking how to open a link from a constituent record. For example if you had an external system that uses constituent ids to find individuals it would be very useful to be able to open a web page from the constituent window by pressing the macro button and going to the web page that is specific for the constituent. This requires the VBA module. Here is how it is done:
What better way of starting the new year than taking a look at the next generation of Blackbaud’s products that are based on their Infinity platform. A couple of products have already been released but unlike many other products released into the IT wild Blackbaud has chosen, wisely in my opinion, to make the release a quiet affair and not a must have upgrade. I have managed to take a look at Blackbaud CRM. This product is aimed at the larger fundraising organisation and its flexibility certain shows this.
The IBBMacroProperties interface promised some nice enhancements to VBA macros. However of the three properties in the interface only one of them actually works.