Upgrade to MLS Companion Database

Discussions around using and interfacing with the Church MLS program.
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mbsteed
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Upgrade to MLS Companion Database

#1

Post by mbsteed »

I have now posted an upgraded version to the companion database on the web site below. For those who are not aware, this is a database program that can be used by Bishops, YSA FHE coordinators, and e-bulletin people (version 2.0). Information can be exported out of MLS and imported into this database and used on personal computers.

http://web.mac.com/marlo.steed/MemDbase/index.html

This is the most significant upgrade to date. The database was converted to a relational database which makes it possible to printout Visiting Teaching and Home Teaching assignments. This feature can be used as part of a joint Priesthood and Relief Society activity to encourage people to get to know the people they are assigned - if you have photos these can be photo listings. The changes increased the complexity of the database but will provide more flexibility for creating reports. There is also a cosmetic change to the layout of the detail view, that information was broken down into different tab views making it easier to focus on one category of information at a time. New fields include father, mother, and previous ward and bishop - - this is under Background information and must be typed in manually because MLS does not export any of this information. Also the ability to add new records was included in the upgrade, so that if there was some reason to have out of ward individuals listed, it will do that.

Let me know what you think.
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WelchTC
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#2

Post by WelchTC »

Wow, NICE WORK! I've been playing with the software all morning. I can see how this would be of a great benefit. Question: Can you update your database by re-importing the MLS data to get new families? If you can, does it destroy any old data in the process?

Tom
mbsteed
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#3

Post by mbsteed »

Re-importing shouldn't cause you to lose any information that you have added through the database. I am a Bishop of a YSA ward and I often update from MLS on a weekly or bi-weekly basis. Actually when the database imports MLS data, it updates MLS membership information (so one can only maintain MLS information through MLS), adds any new members, but retains any field information not associated with MLS (e.g. comments, occupation, photo, etc.), it also checks to see if there are individuals not accounted for from those being imported, flags those as possible move-outs, and gives the user the opportunity to delete those records - (it is possible to have individuals who you want as part of this database that are not part of MLS database - e.g. missionaries).
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thedqs
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#4

Post by thedqs »

That is some great advance planning and separation of database roles. Good job.
- David
kgcrowther-p40
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What MLS exported data as feed to database app?

#5

Post by kgcrowther-p40 »

Great concept! I have a couple questions relating to the underlying conceptual data schema for the model, but first a short history so that you know the context.

short history:
Elder L. Tom Perry recently gave a priesthood training to our stake and told us that our wards should keep area books, especially with information related to helping new members, part-member families, less-active members, and "investigators of note." We realized the value of this to the ENTIRE WARD because during PEC there is frequently someone who "knows" information that will help members, that a quorum or organization has expended great effort to obtain. Two issues complicated our wards realization of this apostolic admonition (1.) a strong desire to protect the privacy of members' information and (2.) large ward geography (our ward boundaries are almost the size of Rhode Island). The strong desire to protect privacy resulted in a concept of a secondary database, as you have done, that sits only on the computer in the clerks office. Our bishop has decided that no copies are allowed, but only printing from the source. The large ward geography has resulted in classifying member families in the ward according to five sub-ward regions that are partitioned according to member density. Moreover, based on available information we have ranked members that we are able to help with our limited resources (i.e., time). We are able to see HT AND VT as well as notes and recent communications. We are able to pose questions to other ward organizations through the database and actually collaborate and coordinate helping our members without demanding the Bishopric to coordinate every action. Once per month we update and discuss a printout summary of the database in PEC meeting. We've only just started trying the concept to perfect it before implementing a technology. However, we need to improve the technology so that we can update names, adresses, HT assignments, and VT assignments from MLS without being too demanding on EQ, HPG, and RS (since HT and VT frequently change).

question:
What is the MLS exported data that is used as a feed into the database program?

I've just begun to explore this (as of a meeting yesterday) - so please excuse me if this question is very elementary. But, perhaps we will be able use the same feed and share a program that is based on a simple opensource database application (perhaps an open spreadsheet with a Python backend) - this will allow a greater number of people to very easily customize their database applications and reports.
kgcrowther-p40
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Answered previous question

#6

Post by kgcrowther-p40 »

I just answered my previous question by utilizing the database. Great idea. We hope to develop something based on the same concept, but for our specific application.
mbsteed
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#7

Post by mbsteed »

The idea of a shared database with common information is an interesting concept. I like that concept.


This just twigged another thought: As it stands now the companion database data comes from MLS, from interview notes, and from a demographic questionnaire that we have everyone fill out. I have actually toyed with the idea of using a couple of my old computers and setting up a network so that instead of filling out demographic surveys on paper, they would fill it out on computers and it would get integrated right into my MLS companion database without the need for data entry.
kgcrowther-p40
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imports / exports with MLS

#8

Post by kgcrowther-p40 »

I just noticed that the standard exports for MLS do not include recent HT/VT visits. Does anyone know how to export these? We would like to include these as part of our "companion database" without the need for double reporting by EQ, HPG, and RS.

An alternate would be to ask EQ, HPG, and RS to report with our custom electronic form that can be imported into our "companion database" and into MLS. Does anyone know how to import into MLS for batch updating, such as monthly HT/VT?

Thanks for any ideas.
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#9

Post by russellhltn »

I don't think MLS has any kind of import function.
mbsteed
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Update 2.4

#10

Post by mbsteed »

Just updated the MLS Companion Database to version 2.4

The main new feature is listings for the check boxes from the Interview tab in the Details page. These Listing reports are for Ward/stake council flag, missionary prep, limited use temple recommend, endowment temple prep, and Melchizedek/Aaronic priesthood Prep.

http://web.me.com/marlo.steed/MemDbase/Welcome.html
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