The FHA Directory

The FHA Directory

This article will provide an introduction to the FHA Directory (and Handbook, to use its official title), or D&HB. As mentioned in the printed directory, the entirety of the D&HB between the outer covers is printed from material stored on, and accessible to, residents who are logged in to the website. The capabilities of the directory have become so much embedded into some of FHA’s operations that former FHA President John Palermo called the website a “critical FHA resource – with a single point of failure” . Not only is the website material used to maintain and display directory information in different contexts (e.g., find phone numbers and emails) but also to provide contact information for Area and Block Contacts, FHA  Board members, Groups/Organizations’ contacts, etc. 

To start to understand the directory and its uses, one should become familiar with two datbase tables: tblLotsX and tblNamesX (henceforth Lots and Names):

  • Lots : has one record (or row) for every “door”, or address, housing an FHA member, and a couple of extras. Each record  contains all the information about that address needed by directory applications.
  • Names : has one record for every individual resident in Fearrington, containing the information about that person as needed by directory applications. (Note that enrolling in the FHA online directory is at the option of each individual. Many residents choose not to get listed, most because they consider this a privacy issue. So directory extracts will never match exactly the Fearrington population.)
  • These two tables are related in a one-to-many manner by the Lot field common to both. 

Nearly every directory application uses both tables, joined by their Lot field, to find information to show the user of the application.

Directory applications include the half-dozen type of lookup available on the “Find People” page, the Area/Block Contacts lookups, the FHA Board page, and an internal application for sending bulk emails to Groups’ contacts. The delivery order for FHA newsletters and the D&HB itself all use the directory database.

All these functions can be studied by reading the code for each page. Hard work, I agree, but not as hard as writing it in the first place.