ODBC Database Connections
ODBC functionality is limited to the Gold version of Mailer.
Your database may not be in Microsoft Access or Excel formats, and in this case, setting up the connection between Mailer and your database may require some experimentation. There are a large variety of other database file formats on the market, such as dBASE, foxBASE, Filemaker PRO, Oracle, Postgress, SQL, RBASE, ISAM, and Lotus AmiPro just to name a few of the very many formats.
Many applications have a need to communicate with different databases, and rather than write custom support for each database, the industry has established a standard for establishing connections between a database data source and another application. This standard is called ODBC for "Open Data Base Connection." Your database vendor probably provides an ODBC driver for their database, and if so, it was probably installed when you installed that software. (See recommended ODBC Drivers)
Different Kinds of ODBC Data Sources
There are three different kinds of ODBC Data Source types. They are "System," "User," and "File."
The documentation about ODBC that comes with your system is probably fairly thin. Briefly, a "System" ODBC source will be available to everyone who has access to your computer system. A "User" ODBC source is only available to a specific user, and a "File" ODBC source stores its settings in a data file on your computer such that anyone with access to the file can establish the connection.
If you are in an environment where your computer is on the internet and not behind a firewall, and you are concerned about the security of your data, you may wish to establish a "User" connection. If your filesystem is secure and is a good means of controlling access to your database, then the "File" connection may be most appropriate. You need to be aware that in an open or unprotected environment, anyone with access to your computer over a network may be able to access any System-level ODBC connections you establish. This may compromise the security of your data.
Our documentation of how to configure Mailer to different ODBC databases is continually evolving as we work with individual database technologies and add to the documentation.
Managing and Creating Data Sources
You can manage your ODBC connections by clicking the "Manage" button, which is the same as clicking the OBDC icon on your control panel. After you have set up your connection, Mailer operation will be analogous to using Access.
If you don't see your database listed in the pulldown menu, then you may need to create your ODBC data connection first. When you create your connection, you can actually create a complex query that pulls just the data out of the database that you want, and some connection types even let you combine information from several different tables using relational database commands in the SQL language.
If you cannot get the database connection working via ODBC or if you are in a hurry with a mailing, you can always export your database into one of the more commonly used formats. Frequently, simply performing a "Save As" operation in your database and choosing "Comma Separated Values" or "Tab Delimited Text" will enable you to export the data in a text-based format, which you can then easily include in Mailer.
The connection strings for ODBC database connections in Mailer are encrypted with your computer's registry security code, to prevent other users from having access to the connection string when you are not logged in. Passwords are not stored in clear text in the Mailer configuration file.
This makes it hard to change a mailing's connection string. We recommend using File-based DSNs for this purpose, and using the file read permissions to control access to your databases.