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Integrating a List Server With the Web Site and Member Database

Typically a list server is a self contained product with its own administrative and application security. Two of the leading products, Lsoft's List Serve and the Lyris list server are built so that a service provider can manage a large number of high volume lists, both public and private, from a single server. The private lists can belong to multiple organizations.

Besides a list name, the only essential information that a list server needs are the email addresses of the list members. Membership in each list is typically independent of other list memberships. Thus, list servers do not easily integrate with a completely different membership and security systems.

Wrapping Lyris in Standard Pages: The first step was to change standard Lyris pages so they looked like ATLA NET pages.

Dealing With Lapsed Members: Web security combined with a Lyris configuration option limited new list members to active members. We had to deal with list members who allowed their ATLA memberships to lapse.

Duplicate E-mail Addresses: Coping with small companies where multiple members share the same email address. Further, some members will have two or more email addresses which they want to use for different purposes such as one for list servers and another for directory listings. A policy to deal with this is required.

Processing E-mail Updates: As email addresses become increasingly important for communicating with members and are stored in growing numbers of systems outside the central members database, automated updates of this volitile data is essential.

Joining and Updating Multiple Lists: The standard Lyris user interface makes it very awkward for a list member to change their email address or list settings in three or more lists. We developed a page that would let members join or leave as well as change email address or list settings in all the lists for which the member was eligible.

Dealing With List Server Upgrades: The problems of keeping a customized product in sync with an evolving commercial product are discussed.

The Final Step: Transparent List Access: Controlling access to lists without having members enter email addresses or passwords.

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