SurveyMonkey and FileMaker: A Case Study

One of the great things about developing FileMaker Pro solutions is that there are always numerous ways to solve a problem. I wanted to use this post to examine a solution we designed for a large managed care organization. Several years ago, we built a customized sponsorship management application for the client that is used to manage the entire process of sponsoring 3rd party events, symposiums, conferences, including review of applications, funding distribution, accounting, and document management.

The client recently redesigned the sponsorship application and were looking for a new way to integrate it into their existing FileMaker solution. They chose SurveyMonkey as the tool to design the application because of its full set of easy to use features surrounding online forms design and management. While we considered creating the application in FileMaker, this seemed like a case where leveraging the strengths of SurveyMonkey made the most sense.

The next step was to design an effective method for importing SurveyMonkey responses into the existing FileMaker solution while making sure the code was flexible enough to ensure subsequent modified surveys could be easily imported.

We briefly considered manually exporting data from SurveyMonkey and then writing a script to import the matching fields, but this solution is not very flexible and would lead to increased costs to maintain the code later. Our solution was to use industry standard integration tools (JSON, cURL) available in FileMaker 16 along with the SurveyMonkey’s integration interface (API), to develop a method to pull responses directly from SurveyMonkey into FileMaker with the click of a button.

Utilizing a number of different API calls, and creating a map between SurveyMonkey data fields and FileMaker fields, we created a solution that is easily modifiable for subsequent changes to the SurveyMonkey forms while implementing a robust approach to importing data into the existing FileMaker solution.

While FileMaker is certainly capable of duplicating the functionality of a service like SurveyMonkey, our goal was not to re-invent the wheel. Why not let SurveyMonkey do what it does well, while FileMaker continues in a roll in which it excels?

This solution highlights how the integration between FileMaker and other services can be done quickly and and efficiently. The resulting solution provides a streamlined solution for the staff at our client and a clean, maintainable structure for the developers. By using modular coding practices, we’re well positioned to re-use our SurveyMonkey FileMaker code in future applications for other clients as well.

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