Demystifying the Database Project
Databases Help Publishers Get a Grip on Content.
Two years ago, Joi Davidson moved into the position of production coordinator for the Chief Executives Organization's (CEO), Bethesda, MD, annual membership directory. She inherited a database publishing legacy; but with the current pace of technology upgrades, a legacy is not always a blessing. During the year-long process of producing the directory—which includes images and contact information for 1,800 members—the association realized its need to make some changes to the system.
The first to go was the database application. The association took advantage of a geographic move to update the software to FileMakerPro from FileMaker, Santa Clara, CA. "We had our IT person set up (FileMakerPro) for us and do some training; now (we) are able to (use it), and it lends itself to all types of sorting and finding," Davidson raves.
The second change called for contracting a new print vendor. Davidson considered bids from four vendors and chose Automated Graphics System (AGS), White Plains, MD. "They produced sample pages for me and discussed pretty thoroughly how the process would work, with updates on edits and how our price was changing, and so forth. They came in significantly less than (the figure) we paid before," she recalls.
Once the directory's data is gathered in FileMakerPro, it is exported in a tab-delimited format and e-mailed to AGS. At that point, her only connection to the data is maintained through a series of AGS-generated proofs.
"This is a rather simple database," notes Dick Matthews, AGS' vice president of database and composition services. When the data is exported from FileMakerPro, it arrives on Matthews' Compaq workstation; it is then imported to Microsoft Access 97. "The reason why I input it into Access," Matthews explains, "is that (there), I can analyze the data ... to make sure that the people who are keying into the database put things in the right place … without having to do any programming." Once his analysis is complete, Matthews generates reports that CEO proofs.