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Advanced lookups

You can use a lookup to create a listbox to select a value from another table. The creation of a lookup is described in video Data Project Fine Tuning. The plugin used in that video is an older version. Starting from version 3.0.3 you can create lookups to other databases.

Lookups to other databases

A lookup to another database allows you, to, for example, use your WordPress user accounts to manage roles and user access on a remote database. The plugin creates two parallel connections, one to your WordPress database and one to your remote database and joins the results. Adding this kind of lookup is just as simple as creating a lookup to a table in the same database, you just need to select the appropriate database from the listbox.

Static conditional lookups

You might however want to add additional conditions to a lookup table. By default, this is not possible, but the plugin allows you to use a view for lookup purposes as well, which allows you add a filter to your lookup. An example could be a list of WordPress user with a specific role.

Let’s presume we have a group of coaches in our organization. Each coach has a WordPress account and has at least the role coach. A coach might also have other roles, but we’re not interested in these other roles. We just want to create a lookup which shows only coaches.

This can be achieved by joining the tables wp_users and wp_usermeta. Let’s create a view coaches which gives us a list of all the coaches in our organization:

create view coaches as
select ID, user_nicename
from   wp_users, wp_usermeta
where  ID       = user_id
  and  meta_key = 'wp_capabilities'
  and  meta_value like '%coach%';

If we create a lookup to table wp_users, we get a list of all WordPress users. But if we now create a lookup to view coaches, we only get the WordPress users having role coach. We have succesfully added a condition to our lookup.

Dynamic conditional lookups

The disadvantage of the previous lookup is that its condition is static. For some cases we want to be able to create a dynamic condition. Let’s have a look at the following example.

The image below (click to enlarge) shows the data model of a Student Administration System. If we want to add a grade for a specific student, a row must be added to table wpda_sas_grade. We are however, allowed to only add grades for courses a student has subscribed to.

For our lookup we need to select the courses from table wpda_sas_class for this specific student. Since table wpda_sas_class does not contain any usable information for our lookup, we need to move up one more level to table wpda_sas_course. Unfortunately this table doesn’t contain any useful information as well, so we need to go up one more level to table wpda_sas_module, where we finally find the module name which we can show in our lookup.

Again, we can use a view. Let’s join the tables wpda_sas_course, wpda_sas_module and wpda_sas_class:

create view `wpda_sas_course_lookup_with_filter` as
select `wpda_sas_course`.`course_id` as `course_id`
,      `wpda_sas_module`.`module_name` as `module_name`
,      `wpda_sas_class`.`student_id` as `student_id`
from   `wpda_sas_class` left join `wpda_sas_course` on
           `wpda_sas_class`.`course_id` = `wpda_sas_course`.`course_id`
       left join `wpda_sas_module` on
           `wpda_sas_course`.`module_id` = `wpda_sas_module`.`module_id`;

Please notice that I selected column student_id, course_id and module_name. We will show the module_name in the lookup. The course_id and student_id are used in combination to find the courses to which the student is subscribed.

You can use this view to create a lookup for a parent-child page, for which the student table is your parent and the grade table your child. In this case, you need to add two lookup columns: student_id and course_id. The course_id must be the first column selected in your lookup. This column represents the select value and destination column. The student_id must be the second column in the selection and must represent the parent key.

The video below shows a demo of the implementation of the filter mentioned above.

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2 Replies to “Advanced lookups”

  1. Hi Peter,

    is there a possibility to integrate a new entry into the lookup?
    So for example if I want to select a “status” for a product and i did a lookup for this status field. Then I see that the status I want to use isn’t in the table status yet. Can I add a new status directly in the product page, which is then automatically added to the table status in my db? Or do I always have to use an extra page with a specific customer entry?

    Thank’s in advance!
    Chiara

    PS: you’re suggestion last week worked out very well! Thank you so much! 🙂

    1. Hi Chiara,

      Sorry, but you cannot add a new entry into the lookup. To manage a lookup table, you need to create an administration page for it. I added your request to my to do list. I’ll try to add it in the future, but I cannot promise when it is available. The list is quite long… 😉

      Good to hear it worked out well! 🙂

      Best regards,
      Peter

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