Jump to content
pconkie

Frog <--> MIS

Recommended Posts

Had a few ideas lately to further improve frog functionality and usage.  However a stumbling block is often that the data required is not in frog (not pulled from the MIS). For example, like most schools we send attendance letters home when certain thresholds are triggered. It can be a painful experience working with SIMS even to get the data out in an easy to use format, let alone building a consistent system around it. What if we could build the system around frog?!  Well it does have the attendance data, but not the address information that would be needed for the letters.  

Then I had another thought....

What if frog could 'talk' to SIMS 'live'? Information could then be requested 'on demand'.  We are in a position where both frog and SIMS are hosted on site and on the same network too (I realise not everyone has that set-up), but maybe it's possible for us to get them talking.  I set about trying to get a simple mail merge set up...

The solution I have come up with is this:

  • All the requests for letters from staff appear in frog in a simple list.
  • A member of support staff ticks the letters they want to include in the merge and then presses the merge button
  • Frog generates and triggers a download of a small file containing students UPN and which letter template to use.
  • A powershell script then runs which reads the file generated by frog and sends it to SIMS
  • 10 seconds later the letters appear!

It seems to be working well so far and opens up the door to doing more with attendance in frog rather than SIMS.

Edited by pconkie
  • Like 4

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Impressive stuff!

We are looking into solutions that will allow us more real-time access into SIMS, but there is nothing concrete yet to report. I mentioned the lack of address information in Frog to our MIS guru, and made them aware that this could be useful for people going forwards. I believe (don't hold me to this) that the reason we don't currently have that information in Frog is mainly down to GDPR - as you are only supposed to hold information on your system that you need - and not keep stuff that you don't use.

Glad to see you've got a nice solution working for you :)

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Wow - that sounds incredible.   

The PowerShell script... presumably this is something Network Admins have to install on the SIMS server? 

Is it a standard bit of code or did you have to create it yourself?

And from your description it writes back to SIMS?  Are there any dangers in doing this, e.g. overwriting existing information?

Picking up on @adamw's point.  As of today, we have no "need" for address information - but displaying it for convenience in the Users' app can be considered a "need" (this is my paraphrasing from more GDPR-knowledgeable staff).  So, in theory, there's nothing legally preventing us from including Address info - I just have to prove to the business it is financially worth the development time to update the MIS extractors, build a storage table, test the new information imports correctly and then continue to support.  The best way to help me do that is through the Ideas Portal: https://ideas.frogcommunity.com/ideas/FRG-I-413

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, Graham Quince said:

The PowerShell script... presumably this is something Network Admins have to install on the SIMS server? 

This sits on the client - it needs access to the file from frog and the SIMS.net program folder. The IT Techs like PowerShell as it is built right into Windows Group Policy - they can basically lock it down anyway they want.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, Graham Quince said:

And from your description it writes back to SIMS?  Are there any dangers in doing this, e.g. overwriting existing information?

No.  It queries SIMS using the UPNs from frog (could also use pupil number) to get the address information, which gets sent back. There is no write back. 

Edited by pconkie

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

We use TASK Insight to for parent data....   that runs live queries on our SIMs server so partents can access current attendance data etc!!

Other companys can do it........  granted they must pay Capita to be able to do it.......................... 😀

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Wow - so is this something replicable by other schools?   Is it possible to write a tutorial others could copy?

I'm not saying that we wouldn't build something ourselves (eventually) but until we did/do...

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

On a workstation which has SIMS installed there is a folder: C:\Program Files\SIMS\SIMS .net

Within this folder is a "remote control" for SIMS reports called the CommandReporter.exe

I have set up a report in SIMS which gets address info for students that can be specified at run-time by their UPN:

Capture.PNG.76120025a0ec40c3fe7bdf7550a894e2.PNG

As you can see i can currently specify up to 20 UPNs - this means I can do a mail merge in batches of 20 letters max - but this isn't a hard limit and can modify my SIMS report to add more at any time.

This is a rather useless SIMS report if the intention was to run it via the SIMS interface - I would need to know and type UPNs in to the report when it ran! However, it is perfect for an automated process where frog provides the UPNs.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

So CommandReporter.exe needs to be run with the following additional parameters:

valid sims username (required)

valid sims password (required)

name of report to run (required)

path to params.xml file (optional)

output format (optional)

 

The params.xml file is the key - this is what frog creates for me and contains the parameters in the correct format that will be used by the report at run-time. If the file is not provided the report parameters default values will be used.  

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'm using PowerShell to:

  • check the param.xml file exists in the downloads folder
    • if more than one exists then get the most recent
  • run CommandReporter.exe and wait for the data to be returned
  • if no error code delete the param.xml file
  • open the correct word template

From here a macro in the word template takes over to complete the merge and hide the template.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

That just leaves a sneak peek at our frog attendance tracker....

Untitled.thumb.png.e2410139d619104ea46ee1b39690e02d.png

Edited by pconkie
  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Clicking on the students name take's you to full certificate and interventions record...

Untitled.thumb.png.58dc459dc013d25d952d567c7deec180.png

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

This one isn't being shared at this stage - sorry.

Reasons for not sharing at this stage -

  • its not been tested enough
  • its too bespoke to our school (which is a roundabout way of saying it would be too much work at the moment to make it work properly for your school context)

Thanks

Edited by pconkie
  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I’m not even going to try and lie by saying I understand any of it....  but it looks like another Conkie Special!!  😉

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.


×
×
  • Create New...