The Database team maintains all databases that support daily operations and help the Burning Man Project happen each year. Additionally, some assistance is provided to support the Black Rock Arts Foundation.

During the spring of 2006, the Database team finished migrating the main FileMaker Server from FileMaker Server version 5.5 to FileMaker Server version 8 Advanced. This migration completed the project upgrade of all Burning Man FileMaker systems to version 7 or above. The team also revised the database interactions and updated the volunteer questionnaire to FileMaker-driven Web forms for 2006. Also, the following web forms were created in Plone to replace Lasso script-generated forms: media questionnaire and the snail mail questionnaire. Further, Database team members updated database support and user processes for the following activities:

  • Scholarships questionnaire
  • Theme camp registration
  • Art installation registration
  • Fire Conclave management

Beyond these participant-focused activities, the team completed numerous tasks to improve internal systems, including database and Web server maintenance, end-user database query assistance, and data integrity maintenance within the organization’s various data structures. In particular, significant increases in the data integrity of the main contacts and sales databases; user training and documentation sessions; and general increases in operational effectiveness. An asset tracking database implemented in FileMaker 7 is currently in use.

Membership data in the PeoplesDB moved from 2005 to 2006 tables after the 2005 event. Further significant improvements to the contacts and sales database tweaked duplicate matching systems, reducing by one third the time needed for a de-duplication procedure. The Database team pulls addresses from the contacts database for mailings, using specific criteria to narrow down the master list of ticket buyers into useful, relevant groupings.

In 2006, the following mailings were supported by the Database team:

  • Ticket postcard
  • Decompression postcard
  • Survival Guide
  • Newsletter

The web server continues to handle requests by various applications in the Burning Man Extranet and registration questionnaires for theme camps, art installations, and the Department of Mutant Vehicles. During 2006 many of the legacy forms were recreated using Plone. The web server will continue to handle the web services necessary to connect open source technologies to existing custom FileMaker solutions.

Ambitious goals for 2007 include improvements and customizations to the FileMaker Pro platforms, and moving the volunteer questionnaire and the entire functionality of the PeoplesDB to web-based system using Plone.

Submitted by,
David Brenneman
Database Administrator