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My client wants members on their site to regularly update their profiles (to prevent them going stale), and I've been thinking about the best way to handle notifications for this. One idea was a simple 'subscription' model, where after a certain time has elapsed from the last update (say 3 months), if a profile has remains unedited, ee sends out an email to the member encouraging them to log in and update it. The site is free, so there's no need for payment gateways... so Cartthrob's subscription handling would be overkill. I also looked at Memberr, but again it's too complex for this simple task. I'm just really wondering how best to automatically check member accounts regularly and send notifications to account holders.

One idea might be to have a hidden template that I request nightly with a cron that queries account dates and sends out automated notifications that way? My only issue with that is that it's not really handled within the CP. I don't have any experience of developing modules, only plugins.

I'm planning to use Zoo visitor to handle member data rather than the native member module (don't know if this makes any difference!)

If anyone has any experience of doing something like this I'd love to hear how you handled it!

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Sure. The tough part is determining when they have in fact updated their profile. Since you're using Zoo Visitor, you could use the "last updated" date of their member channel entry, but what if it was an admin who updated it - does that make a difference?

Regardless, here's the broad strokes (no code) for an add-on that would notify users every X interval, asking them to update their profiles (not necessarily based on when the last update was actually made). It should give you the the gist of how it would work.

  • Create a custom module and extension (start at pkg.io, and read the module docs and extension docs)
  • Create a new database table (say, exp_members_last_updated), which has two columns, member_id and last_updated (this will store a UNIX timestamp)
  • Use the member_create_end and member_delete extension hooks to insert/remove each member into/from your table as they are created/deleted
  • Write a function/method in your module file which queries your table, grabbing all member_ids whose last_updated is at least X seconds ago
  • For each of those, grab their email address from exp_members, and send them an email (using EE's Email class)
  • After sending the email, update their record in your custom table with the current time ($this->EE->localize->now)
  • That module needs to have an "action", which is linked to the above method within your module class - then you can run the script as a cron job with http://yoursite.com/?ACT=XX
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  • Thanks very much Derek. On the face of it your answer fills me with terror as I've never written a module or extension before, and this isn't a big project (so I'd effectively be doing the extra development for free). However, I really appreciate how you've outlined the approach to doing it, which might also mean that it won't be as difficult as I fear... maybe! :D Thank you! – BellamyStudio May 7 '13 at 18:43
  • Take the plunge! This is a great learning project for you! :) – Derek Hogue May 7 '13 at 19:03
  • I know you're right Derek, I should face my fears :D – BellamyStudio May 7 '13 at 19:11
  • I would just use Postmaster for this. It has all the API's available do what you need, you just need to use them and implement the specific logic required for the notices. With Postmaster, you can even create child db tables just like Derek mentioned; I do the same thing in my notification I use to send emails to people with abandoned shopping carts. – Justin Kimbrell May 8 '13 at 21:35
  • Just looking at putting this package together - it doesn't look like I have member_create_end and member_delete available to me (at least on pkg.io) - I can access the following: member_edit_preferences, member_member_register, member_member_register_start, member_update_preferences - they sound useful, are they Derek? – BellamyStudio May 13 '13 at 8:53
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I would use Postmaster for this. You are going to have to write some code either way, so you might as well harness a proper API that was build exactly for this same thing. I would use the Notifications API. You could even follow similar logic to Derek, as I have done the same exact thing with CartThrob Abandoned Cart Notifications. So instead of CT Abandoned Shopping Carts, you would just use similar logic to create an "Outdated Member Profiles" Notification.

Best part about this, is you don't even have to write the code to send the email. Postmaster does all that for you. You just need to write the logic to figure out which users need a notifications.

https://objectivehtml.com/postmaster

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  • Interesting, I haven't used Postmaster before - I'll have a look, the API looks promising! Thanks Justin – BellamyStudio May 9 '13 at 11:38
  • Just let me know if you have any questions. Feel free to send me an email support@objectivehtml.com. Happy to help get you pointed in the right direction. Postmaster will saves days off your dev time. – Justin Kimbrell May 9 '13 at 13:28
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Though you should probably build this as an EE add-on you don't technically need to.

You could write a simple PHP script that queries EE's database and grabs the email address of any account that hasn't been updated. Then send an email using PHP's own email functions. It doesn't have to be anything to do with EE.

The trick is going to be how to determine when a profile was last updated as I'm not sure this info is stored anywhere.

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  • As I'll be using the channel module to handle member data (courtesy of Zoo Visitor) I think I can use the last updated field (as Derek points out) - so that bit's ok. It's more how I make this CP-friendly, as I think I can write the PHP-only version no problem - but when I hand it over, the administrator isn't going to have any control eg over the frequency of notifications etc. I thought there might be a 3rd party add-on that could handle it, but it looks like there isn't (anything simple anyway) – BellamyStudio May 7 '13 at 18:55
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    Not to mention over time emails with PHP get lost. I would recommend using a transactional API service. Most of them give you 12,000 free emails a month, so the price is very reasonable (if not free). – Justin Kimbrell May 8 '13 at 21:38

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