09 September, 2010
By michal
Filed under v3.3, Architecture, Extensions

This blog post is outdated. For latest information about how to create extension, please refer to Extensions Wiki Page.


It had to happen sooner or later - CiviCRM is growing with with variety of functionality, where people can plug in their own, custom pieces and make CiviCRM more tailored to their needs. Most prominent examples at the moment include payment processors, custom searches and custom reports. Don't confuse it with "larger scale" customisation, like writing Drupal modules which - using API and hooks - modify CiviCRM behaviour. We're talking about well defined, self-contained pieces of code which throw in some useful functionality into your existing installation. As of now, it's a bit of a hassle to install them - you need to put files in proper places, register them using administrator section and so on: nothing...

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17 August, 2010
Filed under Architecture

Tokens are used in CiviCRM to create mail merges in much the same way as, for example, Microsoft Office. They are currently implemented in (at least) four places in CIviCRM: 'CiviMail', 'Send Mail to Contacts', 'Create PDF Letter' and 'Create Mailing Labels'. Out of the box Civi comes with a decent set of tokens, including tokens for all the address fields. One thing it doesn't do is provide a token that correctly formats an address block taking account of when fields aren't present. For example, if i used the following address tokens for my address:

 {contact.street_address} {contact.supplemental_address_1} {contact.supplemental_address_2} {contact.city} {contact.postal_code} 

It would look something like this:

109 Roding Road

London E5 0DR

i.e. two blank lines make a big gap which doesn't look great. Civi has already solved the address formatting problem in other places including mailing labels and on the contact view screen. And Civi has a...

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10 August, 2010
Filed under CiviMember, Architecture

Being able to efficiently identify and merge duplicate contacts and related data is be an important -- and often time-consuming -- task for organizations getting data from multiple sources. The current CiviCRM dedupe and merge process does not scale well beyond a moderate number of contacts and consequently there has been dicussion on the forums and IRC about optimizing the dedupe and merge code in CiviCRM.

Niro Solutions and the International Mountain Bicycling Association (IMBA) and have jointly made funds available to sponsor this work and we are opening up the project scope for discussion before work begins. The aim is to to have the enhanced functionalty in core for the CiviCRM 3.2.2 release.

Donald Lobo laid out the high-level goals of the project:

  • The ability to scale the dedupe process to at least one million contact records
  • Significantly improve import/event registration/contribution/other workflows that use dedupe
  • Be...
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22 July, 2010
Filed under Architecture, Drupal, Schools
A school needed an online admission application process to be developed and integrated with CiviSchool. The application form is a different workflow from the online family forms. Web Access helped convert this idea to working application as part of the CiviSchool Project. I have been working with Web Access on this project and we have completed most of it. Now seemed to be a good time to let everyone know about what we have done so far. Here is how the admission workflow is -
  • Parent account setup : A parent goes to the school site and uses a civicrm registration profile to create an account and enters the site. The account automatically gets assigned a "Applicant Parent" subtype.
  • Filling admission application...
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19 June, 2010
By xavier
Filed under CiviEvent, v3.2, Architecture
Thanks to the good folks at the Party of European Socialists that sponsored the feature, Tech To the People... Read more
14 June, 2010
By lobo
Filed under Architecture, CiviCRM
While doing a deployment for a large organization, our good friends at Rayogram hit upon a pretty severe export scalability issue. The primary export was failing for approx 40K rows. They contacted us to see if we can figure out whats happening and why. They first assumed that the big issue was using a custom feature (merge same address / merge household address) and wanted us to look at it and potentially optimize and fix the issue. In general dealing with memory issues in PHP are not something i look forward to (it comes a close second to debugging core dumps in PHP). Basically you cannot afford to leak a lot of memory in every iteration. For the export, if you leak 10K for every iteration, u will need 400M for a 40K export not including any of the memory used before export was called. On my initial tracing of the code we were leaking between 15K of memory for every iteration. On my local labtop, i could process approx 5K contacts before... Read more
11 June, 2010
By xavier
Relationship are a natural way of storing relations between contacts. However, it doesn't work so well if you have several hundreds of related contacts as the realationship tab becomes unreadable quite quickly. One of our client needed to associate each individual in their base to a local branch (we implemented a nice geo lookup based on the postal code to identify the local branch, but that's another story). It means that each local branch has 1000th of individuals. This could happen in other situations, for instance to keep a relationship between a "main teacher" and each pupil or who is the latest volunteer that contacted each person in a GOTV/ Canvassing campaign... We choose to store that relation as a custom field of the type "contact reference". Each individual has a new field "nearest local branch", that is a reference to an organisation (the local branch). It works fine and you have a nice autocomplete field, like the search field in the top left corner in the... Read more
09 June, 2010
By lobo
Filed under Architecture, Drupal, Schools
We've been hard at work implementing an online set of forms to collect family information for the school module. This is one of our final projects for the year and eliminates the tedious summer ritual for the admin staff of sending paper forms to the 200 school families and for the parent to fill out the same information every year. This also saves the admin staff from entering that same information into the SIS We've built this work on the parent portal that we launched late last year. Parents can update information on themselves and their children anytime via their drupal account. The form is composed of 5 sub-forms:
  • Household Information: Name, Email, Phone and Address of the household. We currently support 2 household and 4 contacts. These are stored as CiviCRM contacts with a relationship link of type Parent / Child to the student. We created a custom group to store which household a parent belonged to. We did not use...
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08 June, 2010
Filed under Architecture, CiviCRM

I am writing this post to take community feedback on porting CiviCRM to PostgreSQL, the best way to do it, and to team up with any possible members willing to contribute to this effort. Here are my efforts until now. I have not been able to make it 'all' work on PostgreSQL, but certainly to a degree where I can see light at the end of the long tunnel. I am linking 3 PostgreSQL compatible files here:

structure.sql - this has the columns, primary keys, indexes, unique constraints
data.sql - this is the sample data included with CiviCRM
fk_constraints.sql - this has the ALTER statements to introduce foreign key constraints into the structure, after the data has been loaded


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11 May, 2010
By mbriney
Filed under Architecture, CiviCRM
I am working on an import guide to help organizations match fields to CiviCRM's standard fieldsets. I noticed that the existing ERDs are pretty outdated. The new database schema is pretty large for one map so I decided to create a map for contacts. When I get finished with the mapping guide I will post that as well.