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Recruitment - Make sure the email provided is correct

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Summary This article describes how can we be sure the email provided by the respondent is valid - that is not just following the a@b.c syntax but fully registered to a real address in askiadesign by using javascript and asp page.
Applies to askiadesign
Written for Scriptwriters and survey authors
Keywords recruitment; email; correct; routing; logic; conditions; script; javascript; jQuery; ajax; design; askiadesign

How can we be sure the email provided by the respondent is valid - that is not just following the a@b.c syntax but fully registered to a real address?

The classic way is to send an email to the respondent in which they are asked to click on a link. The link usually updates a database and that database is then read to ensure the address is live.

What we will do in this example is show you how to set up the database and the JavaScript/jQuery piece of code that will block the respondent until they have received the email and clicked on the link. We will achieve a live update of the screen so that the respondent is automatically made aware that it possible to continue with the survey.
The Structure of the survey will look like this:


We will use the Seed as a unique respondent identifier to send parameters to an .asp page and to write / retrieve data to an external database. The seed is a unique number among all interviews across all surveys (in IT, a seed is a number used to generate random numbers - in Askia surveys, the Seed is actually used to uniquely define rotations in an interview).
Here we will use an MS Access DB but of course, it's better (as in more reliable and more scalable) to use a SQL server DB.
You need to create one table that we will call Recruitment with the following fields:

  • id ( a unique ID generated by the database)
  • seed - integer: our unique interview identifier
  • Mail - string: the email address entered by our recuited panelist
  • State - integer: panelists will have a value of 0 when the email is sent, the field will be set to 1 once the link on the email has been clicked

You then need to create a DSN called Respondent - a DSN is unique string mapping to a named database on a computer. Alternatively you could have used ADO. Let's go through the structure of our survey:

  • The "seed" question will be used to store the unique identifier of the interview. If you want something absolutely foolproof, you could also have used the GUID which is a unique string generated for each interview To populate the Seed variable we used a set value routing from the Recruitment chapter with a value if true:
    Seed
  • The "mail" question will be used to store the email given by the respondent in our survey where we also check that it follows the
    a@b.c
    rule.
  • The checkDuplicate will be used to check if the email already exists in the database. If that's the case, we won't allow the respondent to continue. This is achieved by having a SQL import of that question. We run the query
    SELECT Id FROM Recruitment WHERE Mail='??Mail??'
    and if checkDuplicate has a value > 0, we know we have a duplicate in our database. In this example a message is displayed and the survey should be abandoned there.
  • We use a Start query routing to create the record in the database - initialising the record for this interview and ensuring the State field is at 0
    INSERT INTO Recruitment (Seed, Mail,State) VALUES (??Seed??, '??Mail??',0)
    
  • We use a "Send e-mail" routing to send this
    <!DOCTYPE HTML><!-- The new doctype HTML5-->
    <html>
    	
    	<head>
    		<meta http-equiv="Content-Type" content="text/html; charset=UTF-8" />
    		<title>askia</title>
    	</head>
    	
    	<body>
    		<div>To validate your mail please click on the link below:<br /><br /><a href="??ResPath??setValidation.asp?seed=!!??Seed??!!">Click here</a><br /><br />If it doesn't work, copy the link below and paste it into your internet browser:<br /><br />??ResPath??setValidation.asp?seed=!!??Seed??!!</div>
    	</body>
    	
    </html>
    
    We are referring to an asp page called setValidation.asp (which is contained in the resources) and will be uploaded in the survey resources directory
  • Here is what the setValidation.asp file looks like:
    <html>
    	
    	<head>
    		<title>askia</title>
    	</head>
    	
    	<body>
    <%
    response.clear()
    if request("seed")<>"" then
    	dim cnx 'Connection to database
    	Set cnx=Server.CreateObject("ADODB.Connection")
    	cnx.open "DSN=Recruitment;"
    
    	dim sql
    	sql="UPDATE Recruitment SET State=1 WHERE Seed = " & request("seed") & ""
    	on error resume next
    	cnx.execute(sql)
    
    	if err<>0 then
    		response.write("No update permissions!")
    	else
    		response.write("Your mail is now validated, you can go back to the survey and close this window.")
    	end if
    	
    	'Close connection at the end
    	cnx.close
    	set cnx=nothing
    	
    end if
     %>
     	</body>
    	
    </html>
    
    This is quite bare but what we do is simply change the value of State for the record which has the matching value for "seed"... and we show a polite message asking them to close the window.
  • We have added a piece of javascript/jQuery directly into the "checkValidation" screen
    <script type="text/javascript">
    	$(document).ready(function() {
    
    		var interval = setInterval(checkValidation, 200);
    		
    		function checkValidation() {
    
    			//Execute the AJAX query
    			$.ajax({
    				url: '??ResPath??getValidation.asp',
    				type:'POST',
    				data: { mail:'!!??Mail??!!' },
    				success: function(result) {
    					$('#checkValidation').val(result);
    				}
    			});
    		
    			var value = $('#checkValidation').val();
    		
    			if (value == 1) {
    				clearInterval(interval);
    				interval = 0;
    				$('#message').html("<p style='color:green;'>Your mail is now validated, click on the next button to continue</p>");
    				$('#error-summary').html("");
    			}
    		}
    	});
    </script>
    
    I am not going to get into too much detail here but we are creating a timer which calls another asp page (called getValidation.asp) every 200ms. It's an AJAX call - this means that the screen will not be refreshed unless we need to do so... and then we only refresh a small part of the screen with a message (in green) that indicates we may go on!
  • And here is the content of the getValidation.asp page:
    <%
    response.clear()
    if request("mail")<>"" then
    	dim cnx 'Connection to database
    	Set cnx=Server.CreateObject("ADODB.Connection")
    	cnx.open "DSN=Recruitment;"
    
    	dim sql
    	sql="SELECT State from Recruitment where Mail = '" & replace(request("mail"),"'","''") & "'"
    	dim rs
    	set rs=cnx.execute(sql)
      
    	while not rs.EOF
    		response.Write(rs("State"))
    		rs.movenext
    	wend
    
    	'Close the recordset
    	rs.close
    	set rs=nothing
    
    	'Close connection at the end
    	cnx.close
    	set cnx=nothing
    end if
     %>
    

And that's it! You have a proper recruitment survey!

If you want to download the example files, click here and to have access to a live example, it's here

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