In 2008, our long-time FileMaker engineer moved onto other endeavors, and one of our project managers stepped in to take on the database administrator role. Many of the skills for this new role have been self-taught, which brings about challenges when uncovering unknown, complicated and undocumented tasks. However, we are moving through the issues and have lined up an outside vendor to assist us when we are really, really stuck.

Over the course of 2008, we made several improvements to our Ticket Database, including changes to the user interface, documentation and the speed of our de-duplication and mail extract processes. Some issues, such as the normalization of our ticket data imports and mailing addresses, still have yet to be tackled.

The FileMaker Pro databases for Art, Placement and Media (which correspond to their respective on-line questionnaires) all received in-depth makeovers, improving their user interface, layouts and functionality. It had been many years since these databases received this level of attention, and it was much appreciated by the staff and volunteer end users.

We also rolled out a new database to assist in tracking Regional Contacts for the Regionals Team. Although simple in its functionality, the ability to share information between multiple remote users has been extremely helpful for this team.

The People’s Database, our repository of all Burning Man volunteer information, was not originally designed for web accessibility, and has a temperamental integration with the Extranet (our internal data repository and sharing system). Unfortunately, the PDB cannot be ported to a newer version of FileMaker, and the team has spent significant time in 2008 working on a redesign of the system in a new infrastructure. This work will continue this work in 2009, and the end result will include a web-based front end, making the system more available to off-site volunteer coordinators.

An important step for 2009 will be to revamp our database backup system, which is due for an overhaul.

Submitted by
David Brenneman, Database Administrator
Ian Starr (bliss), Project Manager