My problem was not unusual in that I have a website I created and maintain, which basically allows people to apply to apply to attend courses run by the organisation I work for. Now whilst the online application process works fine, we struggle when applicants have poor connectivity or indeed no access to the Extranet where this site is hosted. This was affecting course applications and therefore not good! So I needed to explore possible ‘offline’ course application solutions that will allow someone to complete their course application using a form they download from a website that sits on the internet as opposed to the extranet my site is on, then email the application form to someone with better network connectivity and access to the extranet. They can then upload the offline course appliocation.
Now with limited application development experience, I needed a black box solution that was free or low cost and which,I could bespoke! Because I wanted the person importing the course application to see what was being imported, then use php to import the content of the form into my application. Tall order? Well not really, as with a simple Google Search I found a multitude of possible solutions. Some were reader and writer solution, all Excel. Couldn’t really find any pdf solutions and I have limited experience of XML. Subsequently I steered myself towards Excel as a possible solution. Now Excel is not as great as e.g. pdf forms, for capturing data and they are not as secure but nevertheless using Excel if a pragmatic possibility given the constraints I had to contend with.
Ultimately I chose php-excel-reader as my preferred reader because the solution allowed me to view the spreadsheet before it was uploaded and I can access the spreadsheet content using php and pull it into my database. Using all the other customisable options in excel, I can design an elegant functional form in Excel, apply basic security and data validation before jumping across to php to provide wrap around file management, data validation and security. Bit of a ‘no brainer’ really.
So with little effort and little reference to the supplied documentation, I plugged in the php-excel-reader, designed a course application form using Excel and can pull into the application database course applications created by folks with no access tot he website.
Can U believe it… I thoroughly recommend this tool: Follow this link to access documentation and file downloads for the php-Excel-Reader