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  1. #1
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    Hi all,
    I'm the lone "IT guy" at a small manufacturing company and I've dabbled a little in web design but I need some help. We have a static website (no interactive features) and my boss has asked for me to come up with a way our customers could check on the status of their projects by viewing spreadsheets, get the latest revisions to technical drawings, download documents, etc. Currently our website is hosted at an ISP.
    Any suggestions on a simple way to give a customer their own password and gain access to files they can view and download? I'm not a programmer or database person. Our customers won't need to upload anything, just view and download files specific to them.
    Thanks

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  3. #2
    WDF Staff mlseim's Avatar
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    What do you mean by "spreadsheets"? How do you do them now?

    Basically, this involves PHP and MySQL.
    You would have to hire a programmer to write the code for you.

    The important part is who puts the data on the website?
    How often would the online status be updated?
    Is there a person that would be responsible to keep everything updated every day?

    If they can't keep the status current, no reason to continue with the project.

    What is the format of the "spreadsheets"?
    What is the format and size of the technical drawing files?
    Will someone be spending every day working on the website, updating status, etc.?


  4. #3
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    Hi, thanks for the reply.

    I'd be the one updating the website. I do that now, but it's all static, read only, publicly accessible content.

    We'd like the customer to be able check the status of the things we're building for them whenever they want via the Internet rather than having to call or email us for a status report. We'd like to make available for viewing and/or download schedules we've created in MS Project, jpegs of their items, technical drawings which have been saved as PDFs, Word docs, and Excel files. Most file types we would convert to PDF before making available, and we could probably convert everything to PDF if that makes things any easier. There will be no need for the customer to change files or input data. Basically they just need to be able to login somewhere and be able to download files. Maybe an FTP site would be the way to go(?).

    Thanks

  5. #4
    WDF Staff mlseim's Avatar
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    Does your company give each customer some sort of ID or JOB NUMBER when you do a job?
    And if so, is that number somewhat random, or is it sequential to your jobs?

    I'm thinking this could be done rather easy with PHP and a simple text file for a database.
    I guess the determination is based on how secure it needs to be.

    Doing all of the online downloads with PDF has the advantage of cross-compatibility.
    Not everyone of your clients has MS Project, Word, or Excel ... but everyone can download
    and view PDF files, whether a PC or a Mac.

    The key is coming up with a customer ID that nobody else could just randomly enter-in.
    They wouldn't need a password, only that ID or "key" ... and that ID is connected to
    the job ... each job has an ID. Is that how you do it now?


  6. #5
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    We have about a dozen customers we'd like to do this with. We could make all the files PDFs. Their jobs are numbered in a similar convention, but we could give them any sort random ID number for this purpose.

    Is there a way to require authenticated access to a single page which contains links to the PDFs? If each customer had a password for one page containing links, that would do what we need. There aren't that many customers so if I had to manually create webpage files on a per customer basis that would not be a problem. If that would work, could I do something like this on the server at our ISP? That's where our site is hosted and I ftp files to make updates. Would I need a backend application, our could I just ftp all the files needed to my folders on the server?

    Thanks again for the help

  7. #6
    WDF Staff mlseim's Avatar
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    You could just create 12 directories and name them like:
    C54326
    C34872

    Then give the URL to the customer.
    http://www.ourbusiness.com/C54326

    That would not take any coding, or passwords, or anything.
    Only the customer would know the name of the directory.


  8. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by mlseim
    You could just create 12 directories and name them like:
    C54326
    C34872

    Then give the URL to the customer.
    http://www.ourbusiness.com/C54326

    That would not take any coding, or passwords, or anything.
    Only the customer would know the name of the directory.
    We had thought of doing it that way but weren't sure if that would be secure enough. Would it be easy for someone digging into our site to find those pages somehow, or is it considered "ok" to do it this way? The information in the PDFs is considered "confidential". We'd want to be sure only the customer has access (we do defense contact type work).

  9. #8
    WDF Staff mlseim's Avatar
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    Well, that sounds like a more secure thing is necessary.

    You can use separate directories and put an .htaccess password for each one.
    Look up on Google about .htaccess and password for a directory. It involves
    making a couple simple files using notepad, and uploading into each directory.


  10. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by mlseim
    Well, that sounds like a more secure thing is necessary.

    You can use separate directories and put an .htaccess password for each one.
    Look up on Google about .htaccess and password for a directory. It involves
    making a couple simple files using notepad, and uploading into each directory.
    That looks promising. Thanks for your help.

  11. #10
    Senior Member imagn's Avatar
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    You can also store the files OUTSIDE the public html directory and use a force download script to serve the files a user requests. Using this solution means the only way for a malicious user to view filenames (or even access them) would be to directly hack the web server.


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